UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WTAJ) — Nothing can swing a game like scores on either side of halftime. James Franklin calls it “the middle eight minutes.” It aided Penn State on Thursday’s 35-31 win over Purdue.
Over the past three season, the Nittany Lions are 14-2 when they won the middle eight minutes.
“We talk about the importance of that statistic as probably it’s fairly consistent across the country,” said Franklin. “It does dictate some of our decision making when it comes to coin toss and our philosophy with the coin toss. But it’s it’s a stat that we’re aware of and we try to make sure the guys understand the significance of it and the importance of it in terms of back to back possessions.”
Franklin said Penn State’s coin strategy is typically to defer in order to sack the chances to win the middle eight.
On Thursday again Purdue, Sean Clifford’s best football was the final two minutes of each half. He had three touchdowns, including the game winner to Keyvone Lee. Clifford said he knew already knew what was coming.
“You get the hang of the flow, what he’s going to call, like I predicted pretty much like half the calls that he [Yurcich] was coming in with,” said Clifford. “So I already knew the operation was going to be quick. So realistically, it’s all about practice and then just having trust in our keys, our players, and then just making the plays when they’re there.”
In addition to winning the battle of the middle eight minutes, the Nittany Lions offense can hang their hat on the lack of penalties. Penn State had zero accepted offensive penalties against the Boilermakers.
The Nittany Lions look to stay whistle-free on Saturday for the home opener against the Ohio Bobcats.