James Franklin might’ve been more right than anyone thought.
Lofting the Big Ten East Division trophy above his head moments earlier, Franklin proclaimed “This is just the beginning” after Penn State downed Michigan State 45-12 at Beaver Stadium in late November 2016.
The Nittany Lions exploded in the latter part of the game, outscoring the Spartans 35-0 after halftime, indicative of how the team had played most of the season.
“The second half comeback kids did it again,” is how John Black ’62 concisely summarized in the lead for that edition of The Football Letter, a neat intro for a cold and windy Senior Day that served as the prelude for the team’s first Big Ten title since 2008.
More than 250 lettermen returned for the contest, at the urging of Franklin, and former All-American linebacker LaVar Arrington returned from California to serve as the honorary captain.
Trace McSorley threw four touchdowns — two to Chris Godwin, one to Mike Gesicki, and another to Andre Robinson — while Robinson ran for another score, to boost Penn State.
After the game, fifth-year senior Evan Schwan, who Black noted could’ve transferred in 2012 without penalty though stayed at Penn State, said:
“This whole season has just been a blessing. … You have to keep fighting, keep working and believing in yourself and your family.”
A week later, Penn State continued their magical run with a victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship, and that success has continued since.
Franklin and the Nittany Lions have a 27-6 mark since the start of the 2017 season, including a perfect 7-0 record heading into Saturday’s battle against Michigan State, in East Lansing.
Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m., at Spartan Stadium. And with Wisconsin losing last Saturday to unranked Illinois, the possibility of a return to the Rose Bowl, or perhaps another Big Ten championship, still figures prominently this season for Penn State.
As Franklin said, it’s just the beginning. We hope you stick with us for the rest of the season (and beyond) for what’s sure to be a fun ride.