And just like that, our Blue and White world was decorated with a little sparkle. With a leap and a bound, Miles Sanders ran roughshod over and above Wisconsin on a frigid afternoon in Happy Valley and our defense put up a stone wall, for the most part, against the nation’s leading rusher. Jonathan Taylor had a few moments, but all-in-all, he was a non-factor as the Badgers were unable to mount a comeback against a D that keeps getting stronger as the season progresses. The 22-10 victory may not have been the prettiest sight to behold but with next week’s glorified scrimmage in Piscataway and a Senior Day at home versus a reeling Maryland squad, it’s safe to say we’re back on track heading down the final home stretch.
Under normal circumstances, today’s Game Ball would fall into Sanders’ hands for topping 1k yards and manhandling the Badgers, but through all the smiles and good vibes that came with our seventh win, we did so with a heavy heart. Wally Triplett, Class of ’48, passed away late last week at the age of 92. Most of us know by now that the origin of our beloved ‘We Are’ cheer can be traced back to his days as a Nittany Lion when segregation reared its ugly head. He was the first African-American to be drafted and play in the NFL and Wally was a Nittany Lion through and through.
It wasn’t that long ago that Wally was not that well known. He felt like he was an afterthought and reached out to me to tell his story. Wally would talk for hours on the phone, just grateful to have an ear to listen and I was more than happy to oblige. All he wanted to do was come back to Penn State and see ‘the House that Joe built’ as he called it. Eventually, James Franklin made that wish happen and ESPN made a beautiful 30 For 30 documentary about him and his significant role as a trailblazer. Mr. Triplett, today’s Game Ball goes to you for all the doors you helped open. Let Joe know that all is well down here in Happy Valley!
Helmet Stickers go out to The Ultimate Warrior, Trace McSorley, for reasons that need not be explained. They also go to true freshmen Jahan Dotson and Pat Frieirmuth, and one of our lone seniors, DeAndre Thompkins, who helped restore order to our passing game. Despite two misses, Jake Pinegar earned one for equaling his season-long of 49 and for another from 42 in less than ideal conditions. On defense, Yetur Gross-Matos and Shareef Miller were virtually unstoppable and Wisconsin-native Rob Windsor tallied his best game to date. Micah Parsons continues to gain confidence and both Nick Scott and Amani Oruwariye add to their helmet sticker tally by collecting interceptions; Scott’s closing the door shut with a minute to go. Last but not least, how ’bout one for big man CJ Thorpe who was the unsuspecting recipient of a short kickoff and took off and ran with it, literally, to all our delight.
Take a deep breath and exhale with ease Nittany Nation, the worst of the Big Ten landmines have come and gone. There are still battles left to fight but no one felt too confidant heading into that tough three-game stretch we just finished. All-in-all, we can feel pretty good about winning two of the three, even if that pesky old ghost of Ann Arbor left a nasty taste in our mouth. The chance to win 10 is alive and kicking, with Peach, Outback, Citrus and even Fiesta Bowl predictions beginning to form. With the victory over Wiscy, the Nittany Lions solidified their 14th straight winning season and if we do top off at 10, it will be the first three season stretch of double-digit wins since the magical era of ‘80-’82. Just a thought to ponder for all of those that were standing on the ledge and holding pitchforks over the past month or so.