MMQB is sitting here pondering expectations and fandom.
Mine were more or less met. I predicted a 10-2 season, though I thought that would come with a win over Michigan, and a loss to Michigan State. Turns out the Wolverines can sustain last year’s success, while the Spartans cannot.
By a show of hands, how many people thought Penn State would have 10 regular-season wins?
Not “if all of the breaks go their way” or “if everyone is actually terrible” or “if Sean Clifford gets injured and Drew Allar starts.”
Not very many hands, at least not when I add in those qualifiers.
I get it. The Lions had had less than stellar seasons the previous two years, were returning many of the same faces that had contributed to said subpar seasons. Brent Pry was gone after one of the best defensive seasons in the James Franklin era, Mike Yurcich/Phil Trautwein had yet to prove they could actually run a good offense at Penn State.
But I looked at the roster, all of the blue chips, and the supremely close calls the Lions had had in the previous two years, and saw a team that realistically was better than its record had showed. I earnestly believed they were a 10-win team, and they were honestly looking like an 11-win team with about 9 minutes to go against Ohio State.
I did not, however, put very much thought into what comes after a 10-2 season. Certainly the playoffs were off the table with 2 losses, but I didn’t really consider bowl implications.
By a show of hands, how many people thought that Penn State would make a New Year’s Six bowl?
Not very many hands at all. My hand is down, that’s for sure.
Even at 10-2, I assumed there would be enough tomfoolery around college football to keep the Lions from the Rose Bowl. Perhaps the winner of the West would again be ranked high enough to claim the spot in the Rose. Or another at-large team would gobble up any spot the Lions might have been considered for.
Not that the Lions have had good luck with it recently, but I guess I expected the Citrus Bowl against another SEC team, where once again the Lions would be deflated while it would be the biggest bowl for the opponent in years.
This post doesn’t really have much of a point, I guess. Simply that as fans, I feel we are often too hard on Penn State. When they fail to gain a first down, every offensive player should be benched, and the offensive coaches should be fired into the sun. When they give up a long third down conversion, the defense would be better off if every player transferred, and the DC started booking flights for G5 jobs.
Then I watch other teams play, even the good ones, and do you know what I see?
Missed tackles. Dropped passes. Ill-timed blitzes. Fumbles. I see college kids making mistakes.
By a show of hands, who here has gotten upset with Penn State football this season?
I’m guessing nearly every hand is in the air right now.
We all want the Lions to succeed, and it’s frustrating when they don’t. Even more so when it’s many of the same issues we’ve seen in years past.
No team is perfect, despite the little “0” in the loss column. No team puts up 300 points per game while allowing zero.
I guess long story short, we should all enjoy the ride a bit more. We get to watch this crazy game for 12-15 weekends per year, then spend the remaining time pining for it to be back. Yet when it does show up, we often kvetch too much.
Penn State has double-digit wins for the fourth time in the last 7 years, and will be playing in its fourth New Year’s Six bowl under James Franklin.
By a show of hands, who here is pumped for this game, let alone what it portends for the future?
Every. Single. Hand.