Bill O'Brien has Penn State Nittany Lions playing well despite sanctions

By Michael Amato
Andrew Weber – US Presswire

If anyone believed the Penn State Nittany Lions would have a chance to go 4-2 by early October, you would have thought they were crazy. After all the sanctions that were levied against the team and school, most would have considered 2012 as a write-off. That’s just what things were looking like after the Nittany Lions lost their first two games of the season to the Ohio Bobcats and Virginia Cavaliers respectively.

Penn State, however, has managed to rebound and have won three straight. Last week, they looked very impressive in defeating the Illinois Fighting Illini 35-7 in their first Big 10 matchup of the year. They were very disciplined as they didn’t commit a turnover and had just two penalties.

Slowly but surely, the Nittany Lions seem to be gaining more confidence and look more and more comfortable each week in coach Bill O’Brien’s system. If they plan to get their fourth straight victory, though, they will have to overcome the undefeated Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday.

The key for Penn State will be to slow down Northwestern’s potent rushing attack. The Wildcats are averaging 255 yards a game on the ground this season, and that ranks ninth in the country. The Nittany Lions will also have to neutralize Kain Colter, who had 292 all-purpose-yards last week for the Wildcats.

It will be homecoming this weekend for Penn State and fans will create a “whiteout” during this weekend’s game. This should give the team a little extra push to try and take down one of the Big 10’s two undefeated teams.

If O’Brien can guide his team to a win and finish with 6 or 7 victories, he may be considered the coach of the year. After many players transferred and scholarships were heavily reduced this summer, he has truly done a remarkable job keeping the Nittany Lions competitive.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @amato_mike

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