Penn State University travels to West Point for a key College Premier matchup this weekend.
How PSU makes the playoffs involves some complex standings manipulation, but in the players’ minds right now, the formula is simple: Win.
“We have to win this game to make the playoffs, we know that,” said Penn State captain Christopher Saint. “So we are treating this game as a playoff. The payoffs start now for us, because if we lose we’re out of it.”
Penn State needs to beat Army, and Delaware on April 30. Then they need Army to lose to Navy that weekend as well. If Navy loses Friday night at Delaware, then, given two Penn State wins, it won’t matter who wins between Army and Navy, Penn State should overtake the loser.
Bonus points, of course, can come into play. If Penn State beats Army and Delaware, but earns no bonus points (and they only have two so far this season), then they can still be overtaken by a losing Army team if the Cadets garner two bonus points over the two weeks.
You see how it can get complex, so it needs to be simple.
Penn State needs to win now.
“We’ve been working hard at preparing ourselves to play a full 80 minutes,” said Saint. “They will come right at us and we need to be able to handle it. We need to slow their ball down so we can get into position faster and stay focused on defense. But it’s better if we starve them of possession.”
Saint said Army, while something of an unknown quantity to the Lions, won’t intimidate them.
“They are a great team and are undefeated,” said Saint. “But they are just college students. They’re in the same tier as us. We are right there with them.”