Going into this past weekend’s game against Central Michigan, the word of the
day week was “letdown.”
As in, “after that huge, emotional blowout win on the road in a hostile environment against an SEC opponent, it’s highly likely that Penn State will suffer a letdown against a 1-2 MAC team being hosted for a noon kick.”
Yes, that’s a very specific sentence, but hear me out.
The entire week after the Lions’ huge win over Auburn, and subsequent jump up the rankings, we all mused about the possibility (read: probability) that Penn State would not play quite as well against Central Michigan.
CMU was a sub-.500 Group of 5 team. The Lions were playing an early game, and the crowd would likely be a touch quieter than usual. This is the quintessential take-your-kid-to-the-ball-game-grab-a-basket-of-chicken-fingers-and-head-back-to-the-tailgate-by-the-middle-of-the-third-quarter-because-the-game-is-out-of-hand game.
No stress, no need to bring your typical “A game” as a fan. Just enjoy a beautiful fall Saturday watching Penn State out-athlete a lesser team.
And the Lions did just that, jumping out to a 14-0 lead, further lulling the fans - and perhaps themselves - to sleep.
With 6:38 left in the first quarter, the rout was on. The backups began to rotate in more extensively. Everyone breathed a big sigh of relief and sat back to enjoy themselves.
Only CMU wasn’t quite ready to roll over, and the Chippewas took advantage of the usual Penn State lull in the second quarter to even the game up at 14.
From there, the Lions woke up enough to churn out another 19 points, which should have been 21 were it not for a blown blocking assignment on an extra point, leading to a missed 2-point conversion later in the game. Meanwhile they shut out the Chips the rest of the way.
It was not the prettiest game the Lions have ever played.
There were miscues: dropped passes, missed blocks, bad tackles, missed field goals.
In short: it was a letdown.
And despite playing a relatively “meh” game, they won by three scores. Sean Clifford accounted for 3 more passing TDs and another rushing TD (for those keeping track at home, that’s 8 passing TDs to just 1 INT on the year, plus 4 more rushing TDs!). The defense had another 4 takeaways on the day (that’s 9 on the year!).
Yet looking at the boards and the Tweeters, you’d think the Lions lost by 50. They’re the worst team in the conference, will never win a single game against a team with a pulse, and are lucky to even be on scholarship, the bums.
People spent all week expecting a letdown, watched a letdown in which the good guys won by three scores, and then proceeded to bellyache about the letdown that they all knew was coming.
I don’t get it.
The team is fine. They did exactly what we all expected them to do, and won going away. Take a breather. Pre-season, if any of us had said we’d be 4-0, we’d all have been giddy. But because they didn’t beat directional Michigan by a billion, the team is terrible?
It’s okay, y’all. The team is okay. Especially when top 10 Oklahoma is losing to unranked Kansas State, and top 25 Miami is losing to unranked directional Tennessee, a 3-score victory is always a good day at the office.
It was what we all thought it would be.
Let’s move on.