James Franklin wasn’t ready to talk about Ohio State on Saturday night.
After beating Michigan, the Penn State coach preemptively headed off any questions about the Buckeyes, ultimately picking up a reporter’s phone that was recording near him to check the time — 11:23.
“Thirty-seven minutes,” Franklin said. “We’ve got 37 minutes to enjoy this win. I’m not talking about the next opponent and we’re going to enjoy the heck out of this win for 37 minutes, and then the next day, we’ll focus on the next opponent.”
Well, it’s time now. And Franklin and Urban Meyer have plenty to say.
As a prelude to their players trying to smash each other into a fine paste, the Penn State and Ohio State coaches opened the week by paying their highest possible compliments to one another.
Franklin on Ohio State: “We’re going to be playing one of the most talented, gifted, athletic teams in the country.”
Meyer on Penn State: “This is one of the top offenses in America.”
Franklin on J.T. Barrett: “One of the most successful quarterbacks in Big Ten history and nationally.”
Meyer on Saquon Barkley: “He’s the best all-purpose guy we’ve probably faced in my career.”
Franklin on the Buckeyes: “Elite defense … obviously they got tremendous depth, size, athleticism, power up front.”
Meyer on the Nittany Lions: “This happens to be the No. 1 pass defense in America, I believe.”
It’s equal parts respect and psychological warfare for both coaches, who will meet again on Saturday in Columbus for one of the nation’s most anticipated games of 2017.
That it opened with praise on both sides isn’t too surprising. Penn State enters ranked No. 2 in the polls with Ohio State not far behind at No. 6. The winner will have the inside track to the Big Ten East title and a shot at the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State had the week off while the Lions delivered a 42-13 beating to Michigan on Saturday, dropping the Wolverines out of the AP poll.
Meyer was watching.
“I was home,” Meyer said. “And I think we’re playing a very good team.”
Truckload of awards
The national honors kept rolling in on Tuesday as Lions players won two more weekly awards.
Quarterback Trace McSorley was named Davey O’Brien National Quarterback of the Week and linebacker Jason Cabinda was named Lott IMPACT Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season.
McSorley also won the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week, the Rose Bowl Big Ten Player of the Week and the Manning Award Stars of the Week.
Despite a shaky start in which he missed some open receivers and threw an interception, McSorley rebounded to finish 17-of-26 for 282 yards and a touchdown while adding three more scores and 76 yards on the ground.
His 358 yards of total offense pushed him over 6,000 for his career, putting him fourth in school history.
Cabinda had his eighth career game with double-digit tackles, finishing with 13 while splitting a sack and forcing a fumble.
On top of that, Cabinda was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week and Barkley won Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week — his fourth conference honor of the season.
Grant Haley and Marcus Allen were two of 13 semifinalists announced for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the country’s top defensive back.