STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- James Franklin likes to preach to his team that no win is more significant than any other. Whether he meant it as a slight or not, that logic sounded suspiciously like a backhanded jab when Franklin recapped No. 4 Penn State's victory over in-state foe Pitt on Saturday.
"I know last year for their win [against us], it was like the Super Bowl," Franklin said. "But for us, this was just like beating Akron."
The Nittany Lions started their season with a 52-0 win over Akron a week ago and followed that by beating Pitt 33-14 in the once-heated rivalry's first game in State College in nearly two decades.
Franklin followed his initial comments quickly by telling reporters "to interpret that however you want," saying he considers each week like its own Super Bowl for his team.
"Everyone 'oohed' during my opening statement, but don't think too much into it," he said. "I've been saying the same thing for years."
Penn State's players echoed their coach's "unrivaled" mantra after the game. They insisted that there was no bad blood or need to even the score after Pitt's 42-39 victory in the renewed series a year ago, but quickly followed that up by saying they remembered well the Panthers' celebration last year in Pittsburgh that spilled into social media in the days that followed.
"I think there's a point where they took it too far," said star running back Saquon Barkley, who had a touchdown and 133 offensive yards Saturday. "... That's the only part that I felt disrespected with. Other than that, losing the game, obviously [they're] supposed to celebrate. But it was Week 2 and they acted like they won a national championship. They held onto that win all season. Obviously that game's in the past and this game is in the past."
There was a time, before the two most prominent football programs in Pennsylvania went on a 16-year hiatus, when the annual Penn State-Pitt game was one of college football's most hate-infused rivalries. Franklin and his team said they had no intentions of stoking those coals.
Linebacker Koa Farmer said he and his teammates viewed Pitt as "just another team in our way." When asked if that in itself was some form of poking the team they just beat, he disagreed.
"No, I mean they're a great football team," Farmer said. "They're coached really well. It has nothing do with them. It's just our standard of football. We look at one game at a time."
Next up for Penn State are the 0-1 Georgia State Panthers. Franklin said he'll enjoy the victory over Pitt for the rest of Saturday night before getting ready for his team's next Super Bowl.