The "All Hallows Eve" prime-time matchup between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Penn State Nittany Lions lost a bit of luster last week after Indiana shocked James Franklin’s group in the opening week of Big Ten play.
Dropping a 36-35 decision on a controversial two-point conversion review, Penn State fell out of the Top 10 to (somewhat) dilute the hyped Halloween showdown in Happy Valley.
The Nittany Lions up-and-down performance this past weekend might have Buckeye fans feeling a little more comfortable about the previously spooky matchup, especially after it was announced Tuesda that running back Noah Cain would miss the remainder of the season with a leg injury.
However, the seasoned followers know teams can often be most dangerous after losses... especially a team that has given Ohio State fits in the past under their current head coach.
So, we decided to look at PSU performances after a loss under Franklin to see if the Buckeyes can expect the Lions to come roaring back or purr like a frightened black cat into the Halloween moonlight.
Surprisingly, in his seventh year at the helm in Happy Valley, Franklin is only 11-9 overall in the week following a loss. However, we also need to realize that in his first two years at Penn State, the program was not the Top-25 fixture it's become under his reign.
In Franklin’s first 16 conference games, the Nittany Lions only won six. So, expecting the lower tiered Big Ten team to bounce back consistently was a tall order early in his tenure.
When we take out his first two years in this bounce-back equation, Franklin teams are a much improved 7-2 the week after losses. One of those back-to-back losses came the week after Ohio State shocked Penn State on the road with a late Dwayne Haskins flurry in 2018. The following week, the Nittany Lions dropped their second straight contest to Michigan State, 21-17.
In fact, PSU has only lost consecutive games twice since the uptick began in 2016... with both sequences occurring in an Ohio State-Michigan State stretch. All four of those losses came by a grand total of nine points! --> (39-38, 27-24, 27-26, 21-17)
We know that Franklin has not only beaten the Buckeyes, but also pushed them to the brink on several occasions. With the overall uneasiness of this historical matchup between the two teams, Penn State’s loss adds another element to the equation.
But, this season has already been different than most others in the past. We'll see how recent trends and circumstances carry over come kickoff Saturday night at 7:44 p.m.