STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 29: Silas Redd #25 of the of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates his rushing touchdown against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the game on October 29, 2011 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. The Nittany Lions defeated the Fighting Illini 10-7. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Penn State should have lost.
I'm supposed to tell you how awful Penn State played. I wouldn't be lying to you if I did. Outside of Silas Redd's fifth straight 100+ yard rushing performance (30 carries 139 yards) Penn State's offense was literally non-existent. Matt McGloin was sacked three times, only completed 9 of 24 passes and threw what could have been a costly interception. Rob Bolden, the once heavily supported quarterback, seemingly has reached a point in his career that he may not return from. Each of the problems that Penn State has are very real, and with the three difficult games left on the schedule each will need to be addressed if Penn State is going to capitalize on their 8-1 record.
But something is different about this team, they just don't lose.
In sports we try and put reason and logic into the equation. Nothing about an 80 yard drive for a game-winning touchdown is logical, nothing about a field goal hitting the upright is probable, and nothing about an 84 year old coach with an 8-1 dysfunctional team makes sense. The more we try to understand the game the more it surprises us.
What Saturday night represented was as much a display of the beauty of sports as it was the chaos. A seemingly defeated team drew a line in the wet, cold ground of Beaver Stadium and said "Not today, not now." It's a cliche response to what was an ugly 58 minutes of football but yet again Penn State buckled up and won a game that it easily could have lost.
As Penn State moves on to 8-1, the season may have finally found it's moment. Penn State rarely finds itself with only one loss in October with so little excitement behind it. Not to suggest that Penn State fans don't care about the season, but the scrappy, sloppy play has made it difficult to really know what you've invested in.
My advice is to enjoy it. Penn State is 8-1 and a frustrating pile of players that have become so easy to love. It doesn't make sense, it can be hard to watch, but even in the coldest of days it is so hard to say no to them. Penn State's unlikely victory was why we come back, to be there when it seems to be the darkest hour knowing all too well that a play can change a season.
With a bye week coming up Penn State has plenty of problems to fix if they want to beat Nebraska, but with the noises of an electric crowd still echoing through Happy Valley it isn't time to worry just yet.
Penn State should have lost. But they didn't. And that's the story of Penn State football 2011... so far.