The Rest of the 2011 Losses: Nebraska, Wisconsin, Houston

Nov. 12, 2011. Matt McGloin (11) catches the reverse-halfback pass for a big gain. Penn State fell to Nebraska, 17-14, in Beaver Stadium. (BSD/Mike Pettigano)

We're going to round out the satisfying wins and disappointing losses (read: all of them) from 2011. And just to keep those good vibes flowing, here are the rest of the 2011 losses, recapped by our venerable BSD staff. -MVP

Nebraska 17, Penn State 14

November 12th was supposed to be the day that reignited one of college football's best rivalries. It certainly did that, but with a somber feel to it as it was the first Joe Paterno-less game for Penn State since 1949 due to his firing earlier in the week.

On the field, Penn State started off sluggish and fell into a 17-0 hole in the third quarter. But the boys in blue had a fire lit under them soon after that as a different Paterno, quarterback coach Jay Paterno rallied the troops on the sidelines and Stephfon Green ran for a pair of second-half touchdowns and the defense hung tough to allow the Nittany Lions to claw back to a 17-14 deficit.

That was as close as Penn State would come though as Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead accumulated first down after first down to run the clock out in the end.

That feeling of hope towards the end and to still taste defeat in the end is why I consider Nebraska the most disappointing loss of the season. But in the large scheme of things, it probably proved to be the team's best loss, knowing that they, as a team and representing the school, would be able to move on from the horror of the previous week. -DV

Wisconsin 45, Penn State 7

Penn State had a chance to advance to the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game by winning the regular season against Wisconsin. While it would be a difficult task, it was clear that Wisconsin was not an indestructible force many that they were earlier in the season. The 2011 squad had an uncanny way of making plays when they needed to, and many held out all hope they would find a way to beat the Badgers.

The game started out well when Matt McGloin found Curtis Drake deep in the end zone. It looked like Penn State might find the offensive potency to make a game of it. However, it turned out it would pretty much be the last (and only) highlight of the game.

The offense completely sputtered. The defense couldn't come close to stopping Montee Ball. Mentally, the team was millions of miles away from Madison. The clock just couldn't move faster enough. The game mercifully came to an end, but not before Brandon Beachum broke his leg, ending a once promising year and the most tumultuous month in college football history. -JS

Houston 30, Penn State 14

The ugliest loss was the beating suffered at the hands of Wisconsin. The most sobering and confusing loss was to eventual national champion Alabama. The most emotional loss was to Nebraska, the week after Penn State became the only team in history to lose during its bye week. But the most disappointing loss? That would be the loss to Case Keenum and the Houston Cougars in the TicketCity Bowl.

At first glance, you wouldn't think so. By the time Penn State reached the TicketCity Bowl, it had lost three games (including two of its final three) and collapsed down the stretch with a shot at the Big Ten title in its grasp. The team's legendary coach was unceremoniously fired and diagnosed with lung cancer shortly thereafter, the university was mired in scandal, and multiple top tier bowls had passed them over because organizers feared that the Penn State brand was "toxic." The team's starting quarterback was knocked out in a locker room brawl with one of his own receivers, and they were slated to face an overlooked 12-1 mid-major team with a stat happy quarterback playing his last collegiate game in his home state. In retrospect, there was virtually no reason to expect Penn State to be competitive at all.

It wasn't. Case Keenum threw for 532 yards and three touchdowns, and the Cougars led 24-7 at the half. When the scoreboard read 30-14 at the end of the game, every college football fan in the world shrugged. At least this nightmare of a season was over.

Penn State - dominant, elite, tradition rich Penn State, the best bowl team of the modern era - lost to a team from a bottom feeder conference in a bottom feeder bowl game that was televised on a bottom feeder network. It didn't just lose. It was embarrassed. And the college football world collectively shrugged. This was how it was supposed to be.

How disgraceful. -AC

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