On Saturday night, Penn State took Ohio State to the wire in an intense game, ultimately ending in a disappointing 27-26 loss. What stings more than the loss is that the Lions probably should have won, but couldn’t quite close the door on an elite opponent.
But you know what? That’s perfectly fine.
This team is extremely young on defense, and lost a bunch of great players and play callers on offense. 2018 was supposed to be a rebuilding year, and instead the team appears to be one of the best in the country.
So where does that leave us? How does the rest of the season end up for Penn State?
When I made my season predictions, I proclaimed PSU would make the playoffs as a one loss Big Ten champ, with that one loss coming at the hands of Wisconsin. Losing to Ohio State makes the B1G championship game much more unlikely - at this point PSU needs to win out and for OSU to lose twice. That seems unlikely.
I firmly believe PSU can win out from here. And making the playoffs as a one loss non-conference champ is not unheard of - OSU in 2016 and Alabama in 2017 both fit that description. It will just depend on the rest of the college football world.
Barring the playoffs, the Lions look poised to make a third straight New Year’s Six bowl game, which would be an incredible feat unto itself.
Of course, all of this is assuming that PSU plays like it did on Saturday the rest of the season. There are still plenty of tough games on the schedule, including at Michigan and at home against Wisconsin. But for my money, Penn State is the second best team in the conference, and easily one of the best in the nation. We shall see!