File this game under weird and unusual, like everything else that’s taken place since mid-March of this year. If Senior Day was forced to be played in a no-fan climate (including their own families) then the least we can do is give them double their money’s worth, right? Nittany Nation did the best we could last week to send our senior class off into the sunset in a socially distanced way and did it well I might add. It turns out that was just a practice run as the powers that be at the Big Ten headquarters in Chicago decided to ship the head coach-less Fighting Illini into the Lions Den this week in what will ultimately be another senior send-off. If the current weather holds firm, it will also be as true a Whiteout as you’ll ever see.
More on that in a minute, as I’m still enjoying the 39-24 Senior Day victory over Michigan State. Even with the game still in doubt, you could feel the weight lifted off Penn State’s shoulders as Jahan Dotson jogged back to the sideline after taking his fourth quarter punt return to the house. He was mobbed by teammates and raised in the air by none other than the retired and sorely missed Journey Brown, with a little extra help from FrankLion himself. It was at that very moment, 0-5 became meaningless. Just another bump in the road our Nittany Lions were forced to overcome. And overcome they did.
The second half explosion (Penn State outscored the Spartans 29-3 after halftime) was a healthy reminder in a pandemic-ruled world that it’s not how you start but how you finish that matters the most. I’m as guilty as anyone at waving the white flag as the worst start in our storied history settled into reality four weeks ago. In the end, riding that wave of adversity has only proved to be that much sweeter as we sent another Senior class out in style with a win. It was the first win at home this season but one of many over their four- or five-year careers at Penn State.
Of course, if the 2020 season were scripted, it couldn’t be written any better as we all found out together (players included) on Monday that Senior Day was just a dry run for Mother Nature’s Whiteout that awaits Illinois this Saturday. While the official Senior Day has come and gone, I believe in my heart of hearts they heard every last one of our ‘thank you’ cheers loud and clear last week. Isn’t it fitting as those men take the field one last time on their own home turf, they get to play surrounded by a blanket of white? Call it déjà vu or what have you, this one is not so much about the seniors as it is the entire program, proving once again, that adversity makes you stronger.