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Penn State football: The hype is real

September 2, 2017 Updated: September 4, 2017 at 11:46 am
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photo - On November 26, 2016 Penn State beat Michigan State 45-12 to clinch the Big Ten East title. Entering the 2017 season, the Nittany Lions are again expected to make waves in the Big Ten. Photo by Lindsey Smith
On November 26, 2016 Penn State beat Michigan State 45-12 to clinch the Big Ten East title. Entering the 2017 season, the Nittany Lions are again expected to make waves in the Big Ten. Photo by Lindsey Smith 

I haven’t been this excited about college football since 2011 - the last time my Nittany Lions were ranked in an AP preseason poll.

But like any Philly sports fan, I try to remain skeptical. Insanity, by definition, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results - and for a Philly fan, that means getting excited for a season and praying you don’t get your heart broken, which inevitably happens around Week 3.

But as I sat on my couch watching mid-morning football, it didn’t take long for me to slip into an all-too familiar feeling of euphoria, with my expectations rising with every snap.

But this time, the hype is real. Penn State football is everything they say, and more.

Yes, the No. 6 team in college football should beat Akron easily - but 52-0? That’s almost unfair.

I had a few concerns entering the season, mostly surrounding the immense expectations for Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley. With the Heisman talk, preseason rankings and All-American selections, and the growing opinion that the Lions were snubbed in last year’s playoff looming over them, I feared the worst.

But the first drive of Saturday’s home opener, Penn State surprised us all by not buying into the hype. Leaving Barkley out of the first drive not only threw Akron’s defense through a loop, but showed us why McSorley is so valuable. And despite throwing an interception in the end zone on their first possession he brushed it off and had one heckuva season debut (328 total yards and three touchdowns before taking a seat in the fourth quarter? I'll take it.)

And once Barkley got his hands on the ball - it was all over.

I don’t care if you hate Penn State - if you’re a football fan, you have to love Saquon Barkley. (Unless you’re a Rutgers fan - but that’s a whole other story.)

He's explosive. He's smart. His legs are the size of tree trunks and could probably gator roll a semi. If you don't believe me just watch him run, break tackles and do what he does best - score.

When he was in high school Barkley hoped to be recruited by a Division II football team in Pa. - now five years later he’s in contention for the Heisman Trophy. Talk about rags to riches. (I could make another Rutgers joke here, but I’ll refrain).

But then you look at the Lions’ defense, which held Akron to 160 yards; the strong offensive line, the sheer mass of a human that is Mike Gesicki, and James Franklin’s enthusiasm - How can you not buy into the hype?

So to my new mountain family, I’ll give you a piece of advice - jump on the Nittany Lion bandwagon now. It’s going to be a fun ride.

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