Mike Pettigano / Black Shoe Diaries
Penn State makes Bret Bielema cry in a 3-point overtime victory over the Badgers.
"They're just a bunch of fuckers," choked an emotional BO'B in response to what made this 2012 Penn State football team so special. It's likely BO'B meant to say 'fighters', but his slip was a great moment on a great season.
As they had all season long, the Lions took the field and fought every play for 60 minutes. Thirty years from now, we'll remember the fight this team had in every single game. Whether it was an emotional opener against Ohio, or a trap game against Navy while sitting at 0 - 2 on the season, or at night on the road against Iowa at hostile Kinnick - this team played hard every play, every game, no matter the circumstances. How many squads can claim that? How many people, in any profession, can claim that? It's a damn hard thing to do.
The last game in pads and cleats for 30-odd seniors was also a game to remember. Wisconsin, as is their style, surprised the defense with their ability to hold in the early going. Wisconsin took the opening kickoff, and thanks to a blown coverage on 3rd down, completed a simple naked bootleg - the first of 35 on the day - to a 3rd string running back for a 57-yard touchdown.
Penn State answered right back to knot the game at 7. But on its second possession, Wisconsin returned the PSU kickoff across the 50. There was a flag thrown for an illegal block that would have called it all back - but f*** it, the ref's had a conversion about it, and decided to waive the flag. After that, Wisconsin right tackle Havenstein tackled - quite literally tackled - OLB Mike Hull to spring RB Montee Ball for a 20-yard TD run. The Badgers were up 14 - 7, and, miraculously, that's all the scoring we'd see for the rest of the first half.
Penn State took the second half kickoff, marched down the field, and completed a TD in the back of the end zone to WR Brandon Moseby Felder. Well, it was originally called a touchdown. But thanks to the miracle of Instant Replay, and a replay official that actually uses the laws of physics to evaluate the tape, the TD was overturned. It was probably the correct call to overturn it - but I don't know how a replay official could look at the shots we saw on TV and come to that conclusion as 'indisputable'. It was, in my opinion, far more 'disputable' than the pile of dogshit call that went against us at Nebraska. But whatever. Sam Ficken nudged one inside the right upright to close the gap, 10 - 14.
Wisconsin's offense continued to take the 3rd quarter off, as they had in the 2nd quarter. Penn State's offense actually came alive. They marched down the field again, and, after contemplating a 4th and 3, brought Ficken out for another FG. Ficken connected again, squeaking this one just inside the left upright.
With the game moving fast, into the fourth quarter, the Penn State offense stalled on another drive at the Wisconsin 41. On 4th and 6, BO'B kept his offense on the field and got rewarded with a 41-yard TD from McGloin to true freshman TE Jesse James. Zwinak carried the ball across for the 2-point try, and suddenly, Penn State held a 21 - 14 lead.
It looked like it would hold up. Wisconsin had done absolutely nothing on offense since the second drive of the game. But with a little less than 8 minutes remaining, the Badgers started converting a couple of third downs. They reached the Penn State 25 or so before they stalled. But instead of running his kicker out there, Bret Bielema chose to go for it on 4th and 6. Safety Jake Fagnano recorded his first career interception, returning it to the PSU 27, to kill the threat.
But Penn State couldn't manage a single first down, as BMF had a nice 3rd down completion broken up by an excellent defensive play. So Penn State punted with 4 minutes remaining. And you just knew, at that moment, that we were likely heading to overtime.
If you felt that way, you were ultimately proven correct. Wisconsin, on 4th and Goal, from the Penn State 4 yard line, with 18 seconds remaining in the game, rolled right and threw a TD to tie the game. Once in overtime, Penn State lost the toss and went on offense first. They went nowhere, and had to settle for a 38-yard Sam Ficken field goal attempt from the left hash. Ficken split the uprights. Wisconsin actually went backward in their lone OT possession, giving their shaky kicker a 45-yarder, which he hooked left. Game over.
And, thanks to the political hacks in the NCAA offices, and the doucheas on our own Board, season over. But what an awesome season it's been.
Three Completely Random, Probably Useless Thoughts
1) Jordan Hill, that had to be a dream game for your last in a Penn State uniform. Gradulations, big man. And thank you, from all Penn Staters.
2) Congratulations, BO'B. You're a hell of a coach, and had an incredible season. There were quite literally 10,000 things you could have done wrong, to alienate and piss off half a million fans. Excepting the uniforms - and probably the helmet number in tonight's game - you avoided all of them. You also successfully did and said all of the right things - education first, dismiss meat heads, 'smart/tough', low penalties and turnovers, yada yada. Plus the whole go-for-it thing is really pretty cool. And I'm not afraid when we pass the ball anymore. Heck of a job in a normal season. Unbelievable job considering the crap circumstances you inherited.
3) Wisconsin had the nation's #9 rushing defense. Can you believe that? #9 in the nation. And our 4th-string tailback/fullback (coming out of camp) dropped 180 on them. Although, after 36 carriers, a couple of receptions, and 20+ blitz pickups, I'm betting Zach Zwinak doesn't mind that there isn't another game next week.
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