Previewing Penn State's 2021 Schedule

By Nick Polak on September 13, 2017 at 10:00 am
James Franklin

Adriana Lacy, Roar Lions Roar


The deafening rumbling that was beginning to seem like it would never end was suddenly weakening. James slowly opened his eyes from a not-so-peaceful nap, peering around the inside of the car. As the rumbling continued to subside, his three fellow travelers awoke around him. No one seemed quite sure what was happening, but they were sure that something was.

Finally, the rumbling ceased completely. No one was quite sure what to say or whether or not to move. Then the sound of a locking mechanism broke the uneasy stillness, and the door that seemed permanently closed began to open. Before long, Jeff Long's smiling face emerged in the opening, and his voice broke the silence.

"Welcome, folks! We're so sorry about how long that took us, but time travel hasn't quite been perfected just yet. That being said, we still think that this could become a new tradition within our society, and we're sticking with that.

Now remember, we can't spend too much time here. We still have plenty of kinks to work out, with the design. And yes, we've heard your all of your comments on how it would be much easier to just expand the current design to fit eight passengers instead of four, but we're just going to stick with what we have for a few years.

So go on, do whatever it is you came here to do. Don't mess with anything that could alter the fabric of reality, and meet back here by the car in exactly one hour."

Unlike the other three passengers, James didn't come here to simply observe, marvel, and head home. He came here with a purpose. So once Professor Long gave them the go ahead, he immediately jumped on the first Hyperloop he could find headed towards State College.

Once in town, James quickly headed for the Lasch Complex (once the seventh practice field dedicated only to field goals was added in they couldn't legally refer to it as the Lasch Building anymore), careful not to be seen by anyone who would recognize him. Thankfully, most of the football staff was out at the fifth, and newest Champs location downtown. James stopped for a moment to admire the three beautiful silver trophies in their cases, but quickly bolted up the stairs to a familiar office, knowing his time was limited.

He slowly approached the door to the office. He hadn't been this nervous since the 4th-and-goal against Alabama in the title game, but he had paid up for the privilege to be here. He took a deep breath, turned the knob, and stepped into the room.

"Oh thank Saquon, it's you," said a shadowed figure in the corner of the room.

"Hey Spider, I'd love to catch up and hear about how things are going, but if we don't get down to business I may not make it back in time," replied James nervously.

"I know, I know. Don't worry, I've got it all right here," Spider assured. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out his iPhone XIII. "You wouldn't believe what these things can do nowadays. And this one only ran me $3,425 once I added the 16 extra megabytes."

With a simple touch, the lights dimmed and the room illuminated. All of a sudden, James and Spider were standing at midfield of the National Championship game.

"Wh..why here?" James asked.

"That's a question only you can answer, my friend. I think when I first asked you it said that it helped give the coaching staff a winning mentality," answered Spider. Then, he hit another button, and the reason James traveled all this way finally appeared.

"This is perfect," James said. "Mind if you give me a brief overview of each one while I take a look?"

"Of course not," replied Spider. "Let's get down to it."

"So the season opener against Wisconsin should be fairly straight-forward. Ever since Alvarez decided he wanted to coach full-time again last year, something's just felt off about those guys. The other coaches on staff don't seem terribly interested in helping Barry out, especially the defensive coaches. Slade shouldn't have much difficult knifing them up."

"Week two with Ball State could be interesting. David Letterman III broke out in a big way last year, and that huge comeback win in the Publix Bowl over Florida was unreal. Still can't believe they gave the Gators a de facto home game for a game that important, but that's besides the point."

"The Auburn game will be tricky. Somehow they convinced the NCAA to grant Stidham a third medical redshirt year, so he's back. He seems to get slightly better and last one game further each year, so he'll probably still be healthy for this one. I feel pretty good about Jordan Miner and Isheem Young keeping the passing game in check, though."

"I can't believe this next one is on our schedule. I swear we've played Iowa every year since 1992. I know that's not right, but come on. I mean, it's not a huge deal, they haven't scored a touchdown on us since 2018, but it's ridiculous."

"Illinois is still as bad as ever. I can't believe they've been able to keep Lovie around this long. I also can't believe they agreed to keep Lovie around this long. At least Jeff George III is coming up as a recruit now, so maybe they'll be okay soon."

"Michigan State, Indiana, and Maryland all are what they are. Dantonio's just gotta give it up at this point. I don't know what compelled him to turn down the Alabama job after Saban got the Secretary of Defense gig, but things aren't getting any better over there. At least it's given all of us a chance to watch Kiffin crash and burn one more time. Zander's re-eligibility hearing seems to be going his way, so he'll probably start for Indiana this year. We'll have to hit him hard early. Maryland's same as they've been for years. Crazy that they've gotten away without attempting a forward pass for two years now, but it's working just fine for them."

"Michigan's defense is as good as ever. Harbaugh really left a loaded roster behind when he left for the Cardinals job a few years ago. I know it seems like Brady's a little in over his head there, but he seems like a good fit. I'm not sure how he convinced Belichick to let him coach, but they must have the direct flight for Sunday kickoffs already preset for each week."

"The Ohio State game will be weird as always. When LeBron bought the university, but left the Cavs to go to Golden State, it's been a weird dynamic in their stadium. They're still really good, and Shelley Meyer has proven to be an unbelievably great hire, but there's still fans angry at her husband for keeping Barrett in for that full 2017 season. What did they finish that year? 3-9? Still can't believe that one."

"And we close out with Rutger. Oh, right, you don't know. They dropped the 's' last year after they went 2-10 again. I know 15 million dollars a year is crazy, but at what point is Ash going to finally leave New Jersey?"

James looked over the final few notes, and gave Spider a nod. The field evaporated away and light filled the room once more.

"Thanks for all of this, I feel really good about our chances when we get to this point," admitted James. "I know it's a long way off still, but it seems like we're in for some good times ahead until then."

"Absolutely," smiled Spider. The two shook hands once more, and James quickly started off towards the Hyperlook station, with Spider by his side. Just as James was getting into the car, Spider realized he had forgotten something.

"Wait! James!" he yelled.

"What?!" James yelled back.

"In the 2019 Championship Game. You're going to have a 3rd-and-2 from the seven-yard line with 16 seconds left on the clock. Stevens is going to motion Johnson into the slot and put it up for him. But it won't work! The Purdue safeties are the best in the country for a reason. Instead, just throw it to-"

James frantically ran for the window as the door closed, but it was no use. The train was already 20 miles out by the time he pushed his face to the glass. He sat down, upset he missed Spider's final message, but pleased about what he had learned that day.

As he prepared to step into the car to journey back to his time, Professor Long pulled him aside.

"James, you seemed a little out of sorts when he first got here. Are you going to be okay on the trip back?" he queried.

James smiled. "Don't worry about me, Jeff. Thanks to this trip, I'm doing just fine."