I have a confession. For the first four games of this season, I forgot to don any sort of Penn State gear. The horror, I know. As Michael Scott would say, “I’m not superstitious, but I’m a little stitious” and I worried I’d angered the football gods. I quickly righted my error for the fifth game but to no avail. I guess it wasn’t going to be a Penn State sweatshirt worn by a lady in the southeastern portion of the state that boosted our luck. I don’t know how the Nittany Lions have managed to pull off wins the last two weeks, but I’m certain we’re all thankful for the improvement.
Has Penn State truly turned this season around? It sure looks that way after a confident win in Piscataway, where even the weather couldn’t throw us off course. What a delightful gift to see Penn State dominating from the start and scoring first. Penn State preventing their opponent from ever really being in the game. Penn State playing complementary football.
Devyn Ford explained the change this way: “We’ve been clicking. We’ve been making things work… We’re starting to show that we have a team. We just haven’t been able to play like we wanted to play all year and that hurt us at times… You have to have the right mentality. We finally found OUR mentality, the mentality Penn State plays with.”
Everybody wants to remind us that it’s “only Rutgers” but Rutgers was in a much the same position that we were. Both of us were at the bottom of the Big Ten and both of us were coming off our first win. In the midst of a year when it seems everything has changed, I won’t take any win for granted.
What the win against Rutgers showed us is that the bones are there. We have the athletic talent and we know how to win. Now it’s a matter of carrying the momentum through the remainder of the season and into next year. Coach Franklin is fond of saying, “We’re 1-0” this week and this season is a wake up call to embody that philosophy. We can’t think of ourselves as the team that was 11-2 and won the Cotton Bowl; it’s a new and very different year. All we can do is live in the moment and hope for the best.
In this moment, it feels good to be a Penn State fan. It was a great week for our Penn State family. Trace McSorley threw his first NFL career touchdown pass and is preparing to make his first start. Mike Gesicki made a spectacular one-handed catch and headlines as the exciting TE we always knew him to be. Our former defensive line coach, Larry Johnson, won as Ohio State’s acting head coach when Ryan Day was out for a positive covid test. And, all three of them reacted with the grace and humility and class that characterizes a Penn State Football alum.
In this moment, we can celebrate Penn State Football’s 900th win and the 10th best winning percentage in the FBS at 900-398-42. As a program that strives for success with honor, we can be proud of our achievements in every moment.