Photo Credit: Tom Mairs (www.tommairs.com)

Photo Credit: Tom Mairs (www.tommairs.com)

One point. One…stinkin’…point. In Columbus, in a sea of red no less. That point is all that separated us from a spot in the College Football Playoffs in 2017. Forgive me if I just dug the knife a little bit deeper into that old wound but I had to remind you all just how close we were and at the hands of whom we fell prey to. No matter what happened a week later in East Lansing, Michigan, in monsoon conditions, if that point had swung the other way in our favor, it would have been us instead of them, plain and simple. Who knows where we would have ended up were it not for that one measly point.

Don’t get me wrong now, 11 wins were nice, and the Fiesta Bowl was great but there’s still some angst for all us die-hards that bleed blue and white over that one-point loss in Columbus. I can feel it in my bones whenever they cross my view. What could have been has quietly festered for an entire off-season and this week there is nothing but redemption on our minds. A blizzard is brewing in Happy Valley and it’s all decked out in WHITE. To be the best you’ve got to beat the best they say. So welcome back into the Lion’s Den, Ohio State, the best awaits you and we’ve got payback to deliver.

Some names have changed, and others remain. Legends left for greener pastures and legends in the making have stepped in to fill their shoes. They tried to chop us down a few years ago but here WE ARE again, as strong as ever and at this point, we represent their worst nightmare. The last time they made this trip they took us for granted but this time around there are no surprises. Our squad is no longer just an upstart in search of that signature win. Two years prior, we were supposed to be a mediocre team and yet we took them all the way to double overtime. Win, lose, or draw, those days are far behind us, even if it was just one point that separated us on their home turf a season ago. As much as that loss stung last year, it was pure proof that we finally bridged the talent gap between us and them.

So here we are again, Nittany Nation. It’s Whiteout Week and we’ve got the Buckeyes just where we want them. It’s bright lights and white nights in Happy Valley. It’s moments like this that we all live for and it’s okay if this is a huge part of our culture. Every college football fan in the country is wishing that their team is where we are today. This is a Top 10 battle extravaganza and for all intent and purposes, this represents a playoff game itself, even with three-quarters of a season to go. Whoever comes out alive is officially in the driver’s seat. Not just in the Big Ten conference but across the land. This, my friends, is as big as it gets. With all due respect to history, the Buckeyes rivalry with Michigan has nothing on what Penn State has brought to the table year in and year out over the past decade or so.

It wasn’t that long ago that I had those same Buckeyes labeled as “The Evil Empire.” The truth is, I admit that my defiance was nothing more than fear. It wasn’t that long ago that they were just too big, too fast, and too much of a powerhouse for us to overcome, and yet, there we were hanging with them, blow-for-blow, with a sea of white in the background. The truth is, I may have predicted victory, but never in my wildest dreams did I think we could actually hang with the mighty Buckeyes of Ohio State for four quarters.

Unfortunately for them, those days are long gone. After five years at the helm, FrankLion has developed a squad that goes head-to-head with the nation’s elite. The truth is, those mighty Buckeyes come in with the ESPN-glory and a higher ranking, but they do not have The Wizard, a Lion, and Miles to Run on their side. The truth is, they do not have a blizzard of white to back them up. What they do have are the bright lights and white nights of a Penn State Whiteout staring them square in the eyes and on this night, it will be the mighty Buckeyes of Ohio State asking themselves what could have been: Penn State 39, OSU 27.

 

Eric Herrold was born in State College and has bled Penn State Blue and White ever since. He is currently the proud owner/coordinator of the rapidly growing Facebook fanpage Nittany Nation, as well as a member of Success With Honor, the non-profit charitable organization. Eric currently resides in Richmond, Virginia spreading Penn State cheer and goodwill to all that will listen!

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