For all my optimism, I do get a bit nervous come game time. The Penn State vibe was strong in our house Saturday at noon and at the last minute, I felt the need to remind us all that it was only the first game and it was raining and there were bound to be kinks. Let’s not get too worked up if we don’t start well.
In recent memory and especially last season, we’ve struggled in the opening game. In 2016, we opened against Kent State, who was first to put points on the board. We got the win but it sure wasn’t anything to write home about. Then, despite a fourth quarter rally, we lost to Pitt. A win against Temple the following week propelled us into Michigan. Let’s not even talk about that dreadful loss. Just like that we began the season with a mediocre 2-2 record.
The next week we beat Minnesota in overtime, then Maryland, then OSU in spectacular fashion, and from then we seemed unstoppable. Where was that team in the first four games?
It was as if we were not just a second half team, but a second half of the season team–as if the entire season was a single game and we only played well in the second half.
There’s been so much hype this new season, I wonder if we can live up to it. None of us want to be a second half team and we certainly don’t want to be a second half of the season team. So it was with joy and surprise that I watched our Lions firing on all cylinders from start to finish.
Despite the cold and rainy weather, so many of you stayed to until the very end. Penn Staters never like to leave before they hear that victory bell. Even when my companions beg to go back to a warm dry car. Even when it’s just me and my brother at the very top of the stadium in the coldest, windiest, rainiest seats in the house.
Unlike certain ABC commentators, when I watch from the couch I know not to draw attention to my cushy viewing experience by threatening to chat with Coach Franklin about the soft players with sideline heaters. It’s a good day when that’s the only thing the TV personalities can find to critique. I won’t give them too much of a hard time though considering they spoke for several minutes about the big play off snub from last season. Is it possible even the ABC football coverage has jumped on our bandwagon? Suddenly Penn State fans are everywhere.
Even Deandre Thompkins sent us a special video message thanking the fans for coming out and supporting the team. It’s easy to support a team that’s so fun to watch. That boasts true student athletes. That’s got a coach with his priorities in order. That’s now ranked fourth in the nation.
Of course we have to keep our heads about us and our feet on the ground. Pittsburgh is not going to be an easy challenge. Nobody’s perfect and there are always kinks to work out. I so want this team to prove that it truly is a four quarter team and a full season team. So far we have every reason to believe. If Saturday’s game versus Akron can predict the rest of the season, we should have nothing to wonder about except who we play in the national championship.