An undefeated, highly-ranked Nittany Lions squad losing a heartbreaker? Unfortunately for Penn State, this is not unfamiliar territory.
I’m sure we all remember, but in case we don’t, here’s a refresher: 39-38 in 2017 and 27-26 in 2018. Both to Ohio State. Both incredibly frustrating losses, as it took so much away from what looked to be promising seasons.
While this year it wasn’t Ohio State, the Nittany Lions are once again in the same spot. Gone is the undefeated season. Gone is the comfort of a top four-ranking from the College Football Playoff committee. What is still here, though? The challenge that lies ahead — that is, bouncing back from a disappointing loss.
In 2017 and 2018, Penn State did not rise to the occasion. The Nittany Lions couldn’t foster that failure into a fire, and instead, fell in flat performances to Michigan State in back-to-back years.
This is truly a horrible game.
The story is similar this year. Once again, the Nittany Lions are faced with having to shape up in a hurry, as they welcome a 7-2 Indiana team to Happy Valley this weekend. The Hoosiers didn’t get love from the CFP rankings, but did sneak into the Coaches and AP poll at No. 25 and 24, respectively — a sign that these Hoosiers are no pushovers.
What’s different about this year compared to 2017 or 2018, though? All of Penn State’s goals are still attainable.
Win the Big Ten East? Win out.
Win the Big Ten? Win out.
Make the College Football Playoff? Win out.
The game against Minnesota was reason to raise concern. The once-elite defense was torched. Sean Clifford and the offense, finally, didn’t play a turnover free game, which proved to be the difference. There are plenty of things from that game that make you go “ueh.”
But that loss was not fatal. In the grand scheme of things, the only thing it changed was it eliminated the chance of an 11-1 Penn State sneaking into the CFP — which, hey, was a long shot to begin with.
What’s important for this Penn State team is that unlike the 2017 and 2018 versions, it needs to let go of the previous week’s loss, and not let it seep into the next game. It needs to realize that every goal can still be accomplished, but only if it’s ready and willing to close the book on Minnesota.
James Franklin’s mantra is 1-0 every week. Nothing more, nothing less. This Saturday, that mantra will once again be put to the test. Let’s hope this time, it proves correct because
I SWEAR TO ALL THAT IS GOOD THAT I WILL THROW A TEMPER TANTRUM IF PENN STATE LOSES TO INDIANA Penn State taking the step from great-to-elite depends on it.