Your Penn State Nittany Lions took on Purdue in their season opener, and emerged victorious, 35-31.
The game was on the road, at night, against a conference foe who won 9 games last year, perhaps one of the toughest first week setups a team could ask for.
And I liked it.
There are many shades of gray in looking at scheduling, but there are two general trains of thought:
- Schedule a cupcake, tuneup game to shake the rust off and work out any kinks the team still has before the tougher games begin
- Schedule a tough foe to make an early-season statement with a big victory
Having thought about it a bit more, I like the second option much better, with one BIG caveat - I only like it when Penn State wins.
Think about it - the Lions got to play in primetime in a hostile environment on national television, and come away with everyone buzzing about the last-minute game-winning drive. Never mind that those heroics were necessitated by an earlier pick-six, and that the offense looked herky jerky at times - the big takeaway was a statement Penn State win, the second such week 1 wins in as many seasons.
Now, had the Lions lost, the schedule was dumb and who would ever be okay with that sort of setup?!
But now Penn State is battle-tested, and having seen some of the warts still remaining, gets to have a nice foot peel against Ohio? The analogy got away from me a bit, but the point stands. While other teams will hope that their easy, pushover wins in week 1 were enough to prepare them for tests in week 2, the Lions get to enjoy an easier go while fine-tuning the issues that still remain.
So long as that big week 1 game comes with a win, I’ll take it every time.