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As we enter a new football season under James Franklin, there are questions of whether or not this can be the year that Penn State can make its first appearance in the College Football Playoff.
Penn State will open their 2021 season at Wisconsin on September 4, and the 2021 season will be the eighth season for James Franklin as the head coach. We have taken a look at Franklin’s overall record in season openers dating back to his time at Vanderbilt, but what are some of the more memorable plays from his season openers with the Nittany Lions?
Let’s take a look back at a few of the brighter moments in Penn State openers under Franklin.
2014: A game-winning field goal in Ireland
James Franklin made his Penn State head coaching debut in the 2014 season opener in Ireland. Penn state dramatically topped UCF in the Croke Park Classic in Dublin, giving Franklin his first win as head coach of the Nittany Lions. Sam Ficken's game-winning field goal as time expired clinched the victory. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1XrlR-rwd8
2016: Joey Julius leaves a mark on Kent State's special teams
This would be the first season that James Franklin started the season at Beaver Stadium as Penn State took on Kent State. the star of the game turned out to be Penn State kicker Joey Julius, who left quite an impact on the special teams game. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw5MqH5fGwc
2017: DeAndre Thompkins returns punt for touchdown
Penn State had all of the right ingredients for a dynamic offense in 2017, but it was the special teams work of DeAndre Thompkins that would score the first points of the season for the Nittany Lions against Akron. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6lXnPtspi4
2018: INT seals overtime thriller with Appalachian State
For the third year in a row, Penn State opened their season at home. This time, they had their hands full with Appalachian State. After coming from behind in the fourth quarter to tie the game, Penn State needed to make some plays in overtime to avoid a major loss at home to the Mountaineers. Fortunately, Amani Oruwariye came up with the final heroics to seal a thrilling victory for the Nittany Lions. https://twitter.com/DefPenSports/status/1036033363218509826
2019: Devyn Ford rips off 81-yard touchdown vs Idaho
Penn State opened the 2019 season at home against an overmatched Idaho program that recently dropped down to the FCS level of college football. Penn State put up 79 points in the game, including an 81-yard touchdown run by Devyn Ford. https://twitter.com/RLRblog/status/1167907491901894658