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Ben State Football: History Is In Penn State's Favor, But Week 3 Might Be Biggest Meeting Yet

by on September 08, 2014 12:45 PM

Ben State is a once a week column by Ben Jones on stories taking place around or within the Penn State football program.

I don't mean to shock you, but Rutgers' fans -- at least the majority of those on the Internet -- don't seem to be very fond of Penn State.

Going 2-22 against a team only a state away will do that to a person. Going 2-22 against a team that constantly reminds you that like your annoying older brother you'll never be taller or faster or older. No matter how much you chip away at him he's still always there keeping you at an arm's length as you swing away, fists coming up just short of reaching their intended target.

But when your big brother slips or sprains an ankle, you'll be waiting.

That's as far as this particular fratricidal analogy will be extended, but the point remains the same. Rutgers has been itching for a chance to knock Penn State down a peg, and no matter how you slice it, this season is one of the best chances to do so. It's the biggest game maybe ever for Rutgers' coach Kyle Flood and maybe the biggest game Penn State has played of real tangible consequence since the sanctions were handed down.

And that is what makes this week so much fun.

Flood calling Penn State "That team from Pennsylvania" was an opening pot shot on game week. James Franklin won't get a chance to respond until his Tuesday new conference and it's hard to imagine him making it through 35 minutes of speaking without delivering at least a few verbal jabs of his own.

There's the war of words, the common recruiting ground, the borders between the states and the bad blood between the two programs. If you didn't know any better that might just sound an awful a lot like a rivalry.

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Maybe Penn State fans will have a hard time swallowing their pride and calling Rutgers a rival, but at this point it's a piece of hardware away from being one. One program wants to keep the other in "its place" while the other looks to increase its stature in the conference. Fans on both sides want to be able to brag for the next 300+ days.

Penn State will host Ohio State for a game that will surely pack Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions will travel to Ann Arbor to play the Wolverines at night. Everything about those games screams national TV.

But Penn State and Rutgers might be playing their biggest game of their respective seasons this coming week. Pride, recruiting, and bragging rights -- not to mention a win -- stand between two programs that are learning not to like each other. A loss to Michigan and Ohio State is simply the latest chapter against an equal foe. A loss to Rutgers is one that stings even worse. A win against Penn State is a step up in the region.

Everyone has something to lose.

So strap in. Two programs with fans that don't like each other are about to go head to head for the first time in nearly 20 years over recruiting territory, bragging rights and a win in conference play. They'll play at night under the lights in front of a mixed and energized crowd.

Who cares what history says, this sounds like fun.

That sounds like Penn State/Rutgers.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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