After climbing back into the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in nearly half a decade, Penn State coaches and players insist they are treating every opponent exactly the same.
That means the same detailed preparation is going into this week’s road trip to face struggling Purdue as went into what turned into a thrilling 24-21 home upset of then-No. 2 Ohio State last week.
But it is a different story when it comes to preparing for venues.
So far this season, the 5-2 (3-1 Big Ten) Lions have played before the largest sports crowd in the city of Pittsburgh’s history (69,983 for a loss at Pitt), a crowd of 110,319 in a loss to Michigan, and three home crowds of 100,000-plus (including the frothing White Out throng of 107,270 for the upset of the Buckeyes). http://www.scout.com/college/penn-state/story/1721061-penn-state-white-o...
Needless to say, it figures to be a much different atmosphere for a noon kick at the Boilermakers’ Ross-Ade Stadium, where Purdue (3-4, 1-3) is averaging 36,747 fans per game this fall.
And for that reason, there is a distinct change at Penn State’s practices this week. The usual blaring music and fan noise is gone.
“We’re kind of taking a different approach to practice,” sophomore RB Saquon Barkley said, “with having no music and creating our own juice, so we can try to start fast on the road. … We try to create our own juice because we don’t have that static and energy from Beaver Stadium.”
So no matter how few fans are in the stadium this week, you can expect the Nittany Lions to display a certain amount of energy during pregame.
“It’s football,” Barkley said. “Have fun with it, create your own energy. … Just have a lot more fun and be a lot more loose and just relax and play football.”
Barkley is not entirely sure what to expect in West Lafayette.
“I’ve never been to Purdue, so you don’t know how the atmosphere truly is,” he explained. “But some people compare it to like a Northwestern last year.”
Penn State fans surely remember that game. The Lions were riding a two-game winning streak and had won six of seven when they arrived in Evanston for an 11 a.m. (local) kickoff and attendance was listed at 34,116. They bumbled their way through the first half, trailing 20-7 at the break in what became a 23-21 loss. http://www.scout.com/college/football/recruiting/story/1720918-wr-jaylen...
“It wasn’t like Beaver Stadium,” Barkley said. “It was a different vibe. So you had to get yourself going.”
PSU did not win another game the rest of the season.
Barkley called Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s workouts “our two best practices so far this year.” But he knows it is imperative for that to carry over to game day at Purdue.
“You’ve just got to come focused and ready because they’re a good team,” he said.