After a whirlwind season, Penn State Football is back. Starting the season with a 2-2 record that included an unexpected loss to Pitt and complete demolition from Michigan, no one expected much from the Nittany Lions. Online sources said that, at this point, “Students here literally had a better shot at winning Pennsylvania's PICK 3 lottery (0.1 percent) than watching their Nittany Lions win the Big Ten championship (0.09 percent, according to FPI).”
Nevertheless, the Nittany Lions came back and beat Number Two ranked Ohio State in an epic Whiteout game that turned it all around. Steamrolling Purdue the following week, crushing Iowa and Indiana, humiliating Rutgers and then destroying Michigan State, our winning streak hit nine games in a row with the crowning glory of the Big Ten Championship against Wisconsin.
Rising from the ashes of articles with headlines that read “Penn State doesn't get death penalty from NCAA, but make no mistake Nittany Lion football as we knew it is now officially dead,” in 2012, this comeback was long anticipated, but no one thought it would happen this quickly.
After becoming the Conference East champs, quarterback Trace McSorely was named Big Ten offensive player of the week. All-star player Saquon Barkley was named the Big Ten’s offensive player and running back of the year – he’s also a Heisman hopeful. James Franklin was named as Big Ten coach of the year as the accolades continued to roll in. With a young team and Franklin finally showing us what he’s made of, the confidence gained from dethroning Ohio State put us back on top as we became a ranked team for the first time in years. Coming in at number 24, we steadily climbed the charts in the AP and playoff polls, ending with the Big Ten Championship and a number five ranking from AP.
There was much contention over whether or not Penn State had any place in the college football playoffs, with many people claiming that this crazy season made us exceptional, but others saying that we just don’t belong among teams like Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State. We might not have made playoffs this year, but the Nittany Lions are heading to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on January 2nd. This is the fourth time making the Rose Bowl in the team’s history, so despite the playoff snub things are still looking great for our rejuvenated team.
Penn State Alumni and Nittany Lion fans are notoriously loyal and devoted fans. But through the rough patches of recent years, these fervent fanatics have never wavered. The undying support only highlights Penn State’s resilience and proves what a quality institution this is. I’m proud to be a Nittany Lion, and will forever be grateful that I chose Penn State to be my home for just four short years. PS(I love)U.