Maybe Penn State needed to lose.
A 9-1 record could have restored the faith of a fan base that has seen their world flipped upside down. A sense of normalcy in a time so unfamiliar. Beating Nebraska while facing such long odds would have rejuvenated a struggling community and put Penn State one step closer to a Big Ten title.
But it would have been a quick fix.
One of the overlooked lessons of the past week is the surprisingly deep connection that we share with the Penn State experience. When Joe Paterno's imperfections were exposed, it disturbed us all in such a deeply upsetting way that Penn State, in every sense, was shaken to its core. Maybe because we felt that everything had been a lie, that Success with Honor had been a facade. It scared us and seemed as though everything that had been built was suddenly crashing down upon our unsuspecting heads. We had created a place where things never changed and where we never wanted them to.
But things have changed.
What happens to Joe Paterno's legacy is something that only time can control. What happens to the legacy of Penn State is up to us. While the tragedy of Paterno's demise is worthy of a moment of reflection, ultimately it is up to us to move this story forward with the hope that our mistakes will make our future better.
Walking off of the field today was one of the more moving experiences I've had at Beaver Stadium. That even after Matt McGloin had failed to will Penn State to the endzone, fans were cheering for a team wrapped up in a drama they had nothing to do with. It wasn't a cheer of encouragement, It was a cheer of pride for something bigger than ourselves: "We are in this together, through thick and thin, and no matter what I'll always be proud of you."
And I think it's what we needed.
To realize that it's going to be okay, that even though Penn State is not perfect, it is still a collection of the greatest people you will know. That no matter what, we'll end up coming out the other side better than ever and we'll do it together, that we really are Penn State.
This was supposed to be a game recap. But I feel that brushing over stats after a day such as today really misses the point. The defense played great, the offense struggled, but the team almost found a way to win. It has been the same story that we have seen all season.
In the end, it doesn't matter that they lost, it matters that we came together.