As painful as last year’s 0-5 start was for Penn State, the team is not going to forget it. Rather than completely erase it from their memories, the Nittany Lions are using the program-worst start as fuel during the winter and spring.

Penn State finished the 2020 season with a 4-5 record, finishing strong after an abysmal start. James Franklin’s team had been considered a favorite to challenge Ohio State for a conference title and a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Obviously, that didn’t happen.


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Hopes and dreams of a B1G championship were eliminated by Week 2. The Nittany Lions dropped a controversial road game to Indiana in the season opener and lost a two-score contest to Ohio State the following week. Chances of winning the conference has essentially fizzled.

The goals haven’t changed in Happy Valley, though. And that disappointing year in 2020 is motivating the 2021 squad.

“It’s a culture right now. Everyone is pissed off at how things went in 2020 and everyone wants to do better,” said kicker Jake Pinegar, per Audrey Snyder of The Athletic. “Everyone wants to have more and the only way to do that is to change things and ramp things up.”

Until 2020, Penn State had hit the 11-win mark three times in the previous four seasons. It had fought Ohio State closer than anyone else consistently in the B1G and was looking to return to Indianapolis with a chance to win a league title.

That’s what the Lions want to get back to this fall.

“Every day in the weight room we see 0-5 on the board and if that doesn’t motivate you…” said tight end Brenton Strange.

Penn State is working this spring to climb back to the upper echelon of the B1G. It will have an early opportunity to prove it belongs at the top of the conference too. The season opener is a road trip to Camp Randall Stadium to play Wisconsin.

Right out of the gate, the Nittany Lions have a chance to flex their muscle.