After lamenting the marine layer of “noise” surrounding his once second-ranked program, Penn State coach James Franklin swept the sky to land on the core of his frustration.

“We’re going to become more of a hard-nosed team up front on both sides of the ball,” Franklin said after his team’s 27-24 loss to Michigan State on Saturday. “We’re going to be more physical up front. We’re not right now. We’re too finesse.”

That’s it. That’s the station from which Penn State leaves for the concluding stretch of a 2017 season that suddenly seems disappointing, though that view might be a product of that “noise” as well.

The Nittany Lions have three games remaining against a friendly schedule (Rutgers, Nebraska, Maryland) that could lift them to a 10-2 finish and a New Year’s Six bowl game.

By itself, that’s a phenomenal season. In the context of being the 2016 Big Ten champion and the nation’s No. 2 team just 10 days ago, it looks like a spiral.

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