In looking at the 2022 schedule, there were three very distinct portions to the schedule:
- The first 5 games of the season, leading into the bye week, which included road contests at Purdue and Auburn
- The middle 3 games of the season, following the bye, against Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio State
- The final 4 games of the season, with Penn State closing the season hoping for a good postseason destination
In looking at the schedule prior to the season starting, it became very clear very quickly that the month of October would likely define the 2022 season.
The Lions could go 9-0 in the first and third portions of the schedule, but could very feasibly go 0-3 in the middle portion, for an otherwise lackluster performance on the year.
Here we are, two-thirds of the way through “the gauntlet,” and it has very much been thrown.
The Lions unfortunately flopped in their first contest, in which they were outmatched on both sides of the ball. Given how the first loss of the season has affected previous teams, it was always a concern how they would play against Minnesota. That game was an emphatic rebound, which means that the dreaded possibility of a winless October is no more.
And yet, going 1-2 in that 3-game stretch might still be looked at as an underperformance. 10-2 is absolutely a great season, and getting at least one win in October means that that record is very much on the table.
But as Penn State fans, you have to hope that ONE of these years, the Lions can find a way to get over the hump and into the playoffs.
After having been hit in the face by it, Penn State has picked up the gauntlet and thrown it right back. How the team performs this Saturday in the final game of that season-defining stretch will go a long way toward how fans remember the 2022 squad.
The gauntlet has been thrown - now it’s time for the Lions to go out on the field and prove their mettle.