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Penn State Nittany Lions Gets Signature Win in Old School Fashion

James Franklin made significant changes to his Penn State coaching staff prior to the 2016 season. All of them in the hopes of changing the fortunes of his team against the top teams in the Big Ten.

After all, he had failed to win a single game against the likes of Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State to start his time in Happy Valley.

Many fans, pundits and writers questioned if anything would change about that following a mediocre start to the 2016 season. A start that included a 49-10 butt-kicking at the hands of Michigan no less.

That put Franklin at 0-7 against the big three of the East division and little hope of change in sight.

Many wondered if the old school Penn State, the one that played stout defense, good special teams and solid offense would show up any time soon.

So, it was only fitting that the Penn State Nittany Lions scored a historic victory over previously undefeated Ohio State on the backs of some old school PSU play. Stout defensive play, mixed with some big time special teams moments led the Nittany Lions to the 24-21 victory.

Franklin finally felt like a monkey was off of his back, letting it all pour out in the post-game press conference.

Down 21-7 heading in to the fourth quarter, it appeared Penn State was in some serious trouble. That was especially so after a massive miscue on a snap for a punt deep in its own territory turned a 19-7 deficit in to a 21-7 hole.

Instead, Penn State refocused and found a way to win with a formula that has been the signature of this program for so many years.

Little did anyone know that the comeback was on as Trace McSorely snuck in to the corner of the end zone with 13:32 to play and Penn State still down 21-14.

After PSU added a field goal just a few minutes later, a comeback seemed possible. But, it would take a magical moment for it to really happen.

Penn State’s special teams provided that magical moment and erased that safety it had to take earlier in the game.

As Ohio State lined up for a short field goal to likely put the game out of reach at 24-17, PSU blocked the attempt and Grant Haley returned the blocked kick 60 yards for a touchdown and a 24-21 lead with just 4:27 to play.

It was also no accident that Penn State’s defense just so happened to come alive with the return of linebackers Brandon Bell and Jason Cabinda. Bell put up an eye-opening 19 tackles, while Cabinda contributed 12 tackles of his own.

There are still plenty of things to worry about after giving up 413 yards of total offense and only putting up 276 yards on their end.

However, for one night, the stats don’t matter except for the one that says 24-21 Penn State over Ohio State.

All that matters is that Penn State has finally broken through that magical ceiling once again. It finally has a win to showcase it might just be back to being on the same playing field as the top teams in the Big Ten.

Call it a major pivot point, a signature win or whatever else you want to call it. Penn State will just simply call it a win and look forward to building off of it.

After all, the Nittany Lions sit at 3-1 in the Big Ten and are tied atop the Big Ten East division as we wrap up Week 8 of the college football season.

There is still a Big Ten East division title within reach if things can go their way. After a night where things finally went Penn State’s way, maybe just maybe it will be their season of redemption on the field.

It also just may be the moment that brings a fractured community together in celebration of a football team that deserves their praise.

Franklin certainly believes all of that to be true.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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