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Penn State Football: No Secrets To The Coin Toss, Just Interesting Stats

by on September 13, 2017 7:47 PM

What's the most you've ever lost on a coin toss?

If it's Penn State, turns out not much.

In an interesting but potentially unimportant change of details, Penn State has yet to opt to receive the opening kick despite winning both of the coin tosses in each of its first two games. This comes after 2016 when the Nittany Lions won the toss five times and opted to receive the kick all five times.

But Penn State only scored once of those five times. So the benefits haven't been much more then a few points. In total Penn State has won the toss 20 times under James Franklin and has opted to receive on nine of those occasions. And of the 11 deferrals, Penn State's opponent has scored on the opening drive just once over the span of those 11 times.

And in an amazing stat, heading into the 2017 season Penn State had started the game with the ball 17 of the past 18 contests. The only, exception, Minnesota winning the toss and opting to receive. 

Scoring on the opening drive though, Penn State has pulled that off 13 times under James Franklin.

So what's the philosophy behind the coin toss? Turns out not much, or at least nothing much deeper than the weather and the opponent.

"It's usually my gut feeling," James Franklin said after practice on Wednesday. "I usually talk to Brent (Pry) and Joe (Moorhead) and get their opinion. Some of it deals with weather if I feel like the game conditions might be sloppier in the second half, or if we'll still have control where the weather isn't going to be so bad. The style of offense on the other team, maybe a ball control style of offense, so there are a lot of different factors that go into it."

In the end, the 2017 edition of Penn State football seems able to score whenever it really has to, so getting the ball a few minutes later may not make as much of a difference as it did in the days of the sanctions, when points were a rarity.

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