As this game drew near, I began to have moment of doubt. In that moment, a question arose: “Would you rather lose to a really good team or a bottom feeder?” There are pros and cons to each loss.
Losing to a top team doesn’t reduce your profile, as a loss was likely, maybe even expected. On the other hand, losing to said top team creates a narrative that the team you root for isn’t yet good enough to compete with the top team they lost to. You likely won’t hear the end of it from opposing fans, and everything else the team would do for the rest of the season would be dismissed as worthless due to that singular loss.
Losing to a bottom feeder can easily be dismissed as a fluke*, something that cannot be replicated. It likely doesn’t affect your long terms goals either, as losing to a team no one expected you to most often comes without the repercussions in conference standings. Most importantly, in the College Football Playoff era, losing to a bad team is much less important than beating a good one. However, that loss is still there, hanging around your neck, reminding you that, for as good as you claim to be, you still lost to a team you had no business losing to.
I’m not going to go too deep into this one. The fact of the matter is that Penn State was up 35-20 in the fourth quarter. Yet, Ohio State won 39-38. You make your own conclusions.
Penn State ends its toughest stretch of the season on the road against Michigan State. The Spartans suddenly find themselves in contention for the Big Ten East, but the loss to Northwestern put them behind the eight ball, just like the Nittany Lions. Franklin should probably motivate his team to turn out a performance better than tonight’s outing, otherwise, he’ll lose that game too.
Game will be at either noon or 3:30, with a network yet to be determined.
*Except for, of course, that team wasn’t a bottom feeder at all.
†Saban did it in 2009 and 2010, Tubervile in 2006 and 2007, as Auburn coach.