So I’ve spent much of the last five months obsessing over the Sixers to only see them eliminated on a quadruple-doink in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
It’s one of the few times the result of a sporting event made me fall to the ground in anguish. This post isn’t about the Sixers though (#RunItBack), but as you might have deduced from the title, it is about devastating losses in Penn State’s history.
Because I was born in 1993, I can’t speak from a personal perspective on anything pre-2000, so this will be mainly focused on losses (in chronological order) from this century.
Remember how I said Kawhi Leonard’s shot going in was one of the few times I’ve collapsed to the ground because of a sporting event? Well, 2005 Michigan was the first one. For 11-year-old Pat, the 2005 Penn State team was the first time I got the taste of legitimate, championship-contending college football. And then it was all snatched away in an instant, as Mario Manningham caught the stupid pass.
With the benefit of hindsight, an undefeated Penn State wasn’t going to jump an undefeated USC or Texas to make the BCS National Championship Game, but that doesn’t take away the crushing disappointment in the moment.
For me, this one was worse than Michigan in 2005. Penn State had cleared the major hurdle — No. 10 Ohio State — two weeks prior, and was just three games away from securing a spot in the national championship. The Nittany Lions got off to a shaky start against the Hawkeyes, but righted the ship, and were up 23-14 going into the fourth quarter — then it all broke down. Shonn Greene scored to make 23-21, Daryll Clark threw an interception, and then Anthony Scirrotto got called for pass interference DESPITE PLAYING THE BALL. I’m not over that PI call, nor will I ever be. My last words on this Earth will likely be “definitely not pass interference on Scirrotto.”
As we saw in that Rose Bowl, Penn State had major issues in its secondary that likely would have prevented them from beating either Oklahoma or Florida in the national championship, but missing out on the chance is what stings the most.
This one is a little different from the previous two because it didn’t have national title implications, but man, the 2015 season opener was legitimately the worst I ever felt about a loss. Devastated doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling. It was more the absolute purest form of embarrassment and disbelief that this is what Penn State had become — getting bullied by Temple.
I barely ever turn off Penn State games, but this was one of the few times I did. I turned it off somewhere in the middle of the fourth quarter — might have been after the 7th or 8th sack — left my house, and just started running. I didn’t have my phone with me, I wasn’t listening to music — I just ran because that’s what made sense to me.
2017 OHIO STATE
I was so confident going into this game. I didn’t think Penn State was going to win, I knew they were going to win. And for three quarters, I seemed so right. When Shareef Miller recovered that fumble to start the fourth quarter with Penn State up 35-20, I remember telling myself that Penn State was winning the national championship. But then, that definitely did not happen as JT Barrett shredded the Nittany Lions’ defense over and over again. I was a big dumb idiot who kept hope until the final drive, which made this loss all the more painful. I just couldn’t accept that Penn State was going to lose this game.
Later that night, I went out to a bar because it was Halloween and I couldn’t cancel the plans. I was dressed Clark Kent, I was miserable, and I thought about jumping into Schuylkill River pretty much every other second. It was a dark time.
* * *
What say you BSD reader? What were the most devastating Penn State losses during your time as a fan?