Penn State Wrestling at Bucknell

Bo Nickal in control over opponent during a wrestling match at Bucknell University’s Sojka Pavilion on Friday, November 30, 2018.

With the Big Ten portion of Penn State's schedule coming up and a step up in competition about to take place, it'll be the first time this season many Penn State fans see the Nittany Lions challenged.

The Nittany Lions open their conference schedule on the road at Northwestern on Friday before taking on Wisconsin at home on Sunday.

As Penn State looks to stay undefeated and continue off a dominant Southern Scuffle performance, here are the top storylines:

Still uncertainty surrounding Teasdale

Despite reports that highly touted freshman Gavin Teasdale would be competing attached for Penn State at last week's Southern Scuffle, the former four-time PIAA champion did not compete.

Coach Cael Sanderson said there was no real reason that Teasdale didn't compete, but that it was important he made the trip.

"You can travel redshirts and you can even weigh them in as long as they don't step on the mat. It doesn't count as using eligibility," Sanderson said. "There was a chance [he would've competed] but more than anything it was just having him with us on the trip and getting him acclimated to being back on the team and around the guys."

Teasdale's debut will be highly anticipated whenever it occurs, but Sanderson isn't necessarily keen on pulling his redshirt right away and doesn't know when he might step on the mat.

"There are open tournaments pretty much every weekend moving forward. We're going to have dual meets every weekend as we start the Big Ten schedule, so possibly soon or possibly not at all," Sanderson said. "I know that's not the answer you really want to hear."

Sanderson impressed with Scuffle effort

Penn State took home its seventh Southern Scuffle title en route to a record setting team score and crowned six champions along the way.

While he thought there was room for improvement, Sanderson felt his team's strong performance was indicative of the necessary effort that it takes to win a tournament.

"The Scuffle is just a great tournament. Coming off of Christmas break, we wouldn't expect them to be at their best, but we expect them to give a great effort and I thought they did," he said.

Sanderson admitted though, that it's important to peak at the right time and he'd rather have it happen later in the season.

"I don't think we wrestled fantastic but if we're wrestling at our best in early January we probably wouldn't want that," he said. "We want to be at our best in March."

For Nickal, all-time pin record isn't much of a thought

Bo Nickal picked up five pins to take home Outstanding Wrestler honors at the Scuffle and now sits at 50 all-time, four shy of Jason Nolf's program record.

But for Nickal, his motivation to want to pin every opponent is the same as it was before and he said that it's actually in the team's best interest if Nolf pins the remainder of his teammates.

"I want to pin everybody but I can't control how many guys he [Nolf] pins," Nickal said. "I hope he pins every single kid for the rest of the year; that's what's in the best interest of the team."

Nickal also ended the Scuffle with 102 career wins, of which 50 have been pins.

Yet the prolific bonus rate — particularly win by fall rate — he's racked up isn't surprising for the two-time NCAA champion.

"I think that's how I like to wrestle," the Allen, Texas, native said. "The pin to me is the best thing you can do for team points and it's exciting. It's something I've always been looking for since I started wrestling and it's something that I think has always been consistent."

Nickal picked up his 100th win at the Scuffle, but his coach Cael Sanderson was unaware and even a little surprised when he heard the announcement.

"We hear those things when they announce them on the loudspeaker, at least that's where I hear them," Sanderson said, "I was standing next to him and said 'Did you take a year off or what? You barely got to a hundred.'"

Sanderson said Nickal's late emergence into the 100-win club is due in part to the number of matches in a season compared to a decade or more ago.

"He's only had a couple of losses in his career, but it's just different now. We don't wrestle as many matches as they did 10, 15 or 20 years ago," he said. "I would've just assumed he already had 100 wins."

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