STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Michael Penix’s dive for the pylon triggered a barrage toward Penn State student James Sandt’s television.
Remote controls, food, drinks, anything they could hurl to express their frustration at the officials’ decision to uphold the call on the field. Sandt called the play a fluke – one that will fire up a crowd at Beaver Stadium known nationally as one of the most difficult places to play.
“Everyone’s going to be booing Penix,” Sandt said.
There’s no doubting Penn State fans’ dislike towards Penix and the call that initiated a disappointing 4-5 season for the Nittany Lions. But for Sandt and the Penn State faithful, Saturday night is a chance at revenge.
Indiana and No. 4 Penn State are running it back in State College tonight!
In 2020, the Hoosiers got the upset win in an OT thriller ?
?: ABC pic.twitter.com/SZgWK4LXOT
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) October 2, 2021
The Nittany Lions enter Saturday’s contest at 4-0, ranked fourth in the country. They’re eyeing their first berth at the College Football Playoff, led by the dynamic connection between Sean Clifford and Jahan Dotson. And their fans don’t think Penix has a chance to repeat the performance that took Penn State down a year ago.
“It’s just going to make it that much sweeter when we win by 30,” Sandt said.
Sandt is predicting a 50-yard touchdown from Dotson on the first possession to set the tone. Sandt’s roommate Austin Jalosinski says the scoreboard will read Penn State 21, Indiana 3 at the end of the first quarter.
Penn State student Kyle Flick’s television went unharmed after Penix’s game-winning touchdown in overtime, but shares a similar sentiment. Flick was shocked at the call and thought there was no way it was a touchdown.
“I bet they’ve had this game circled on their calendar for the past year,” Flick said.
But Flick and his roommate Connor Wilchusky are moving past last year’s loss and are focused on what’s on the table for the Nittany Lions in 2021. They’re both predicting a blowout win over Indiana and are more concerned about how Penn State plays than the final score.
“If we can’t pull off a convincing win today,” Wilchusky said. “I’d be worried.”
Penn State still has to travel to No. 5 Iowa, No. 11 Ohio State and host No. 14 Michigan. Wilchusky said if the Nittany Lions can manage a 2-1 record in these games and win the Big Ten Championship, they’ll be playing in the College Football Playoff.
For the Hoosiers, a road win over a top-five team would certainly put their season back on track. Indiana has failed to live up to lofty preseason expectations, but has a chance to prove last year’s win over Penn State was not a fluke.
This time, though, a packed stadium in Happy Valley will have a much different feel than the empty Memorial Stadium in which Indiana emerged victorious a year ago.
?: Penn State 28, Auburn 20
— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) September 23, 2021
Penn State is known for filling Beaver Stadium with over 100,000 fans decked out in white, but Saturday is considered a “stripe out” where fans alternate white and navy attire in each section. Penn State head coach James Franklin was seen tossing Halls cough drops to the student section, incentivizing them up to be extra loud.
“After last year’s performance,” Wilchusky said. “This game, ranked fourth. How can you not be romantic about that?”