Déjà vu all over again, Nittany Nation. One point. We’ve bridged the gap, there’s no question about it, but that one point may very well be the hardest obstacle to overcome. A dropped pass here, a missed tackle there. A bad play call at the end, although it really wasn’t (surprise, surprise), is all that separates us from being undefeated. Not just in these first five games of 2018 but over the course of the past 27, 23 of them wins. Eight points total have kept us from having a nice robust zero in the loss column over that time frame since late September 2016.
In the immediate aftermath of this weekend’s 27-26 loss to the hated Ohio State Buckeyes, I myself was truly at a loss for words but after a few days of decompressing, it’s not hard to see how close we really are to being elite. That should have been a win under the Bright Lights and White Nights of another Happy Valley blizzard but it wasn’t. There’s no way to sugarcoat the sting of being so close and yet so far away. When you can feel victory at your fingertips and watch it get snatched away in the closing minutes for the second year in a row. It hurts and our pain came out loud and clear in the aftermath. Hopefully, by now we’ve all taken a deep breath and realized that we’re a squad that can go head-to-head with anyone on any given day. James Franklin says we’re great but not elite and he’s right, but if there’s anyone that can take us into that elite territory, it’s him. So as tough a road it may be to get over that one-point hump we seem stuck on, we find ourselves back in familiar territory trusting the process once again.
As for this week’s Game Ball, there’s no suspense necessary. Today my heart still aches for Trace. A win surely would have put him at the forefront of the Heisman race but one point may very well keep him on the outside looking in, despite all he did in front of a national audience to solidify his status as the ultimate warrior. The way he trucked over Buckeyes time and again is the stuff that legends are made of and there is no question that when it’s all said and done, his name will hang high on those walls of memory inside the Penn State football building. It’s been said enough throughout the years, but the one thing you cannot measure is heart, and watching his out there on the gridiron has been a pleasure. A Game Ball is little consolation to alleviate the sting but if anyone earned it, it’s Trace McSorley hands down.
If we were in the business of handing out prizes for participating there would be a whole slew of Helmet Stickers to hand out today, but we aren’t and so we won’t. There is much to feel good about from that Saturday night showdown. Our D surprisingly stepped up but still had a bad case of missed tackles when it mattered most. I think we found ourselves a Tight End and everyone can take a deep breath now, reports are that #1, “The Human Joystick,” is doing well as he suffered nothing more than a good, old-fashioned bell ringer and will be back to electrify us all. Up next, a little rest and a lot of loneliness as we enter the realm of the Bye Week Blues, the most boring time of the year. Truth is, it couldn’t come at a better time. By no means are we eliminated from anything. The road may be a little tougher than originally planned but take care of business the rest of the year and we just might find ourselves in that elite category.