I woke up this morning with complete and utter heartache.
I hurt. All over. I hung my head in a state of mild depression because for the first time since 2003, I knew my Penn State football season was over...closed out with a loss.
Granted, it was against USC. But still, the last game of my senior year at Penn State ended harshly. In the Granddaddy of Them All.
It wasn't even so much that the Trojans were over-powering the Lions, exactly. It was a direct result of the stupid mistakes, including dumb penalties, arm-tackling, and poor offensive play calling. USC looked good. Real good. But I still can't help but think things could have been much different had Penn State NOT:
1) Been flagged for offsides, bringing back a huge fumble recovery for the defense
2) Suffered holding penalties on the offense, bringing back successful offensive plays
3) Taken their good old time in the third quarter, despite being down 24 points, and continually rushed the ball, even after experiencing success through the air
4) Ineffectively executed third-and-short plays critical to keeping their drives alive
5) Had so much trouble in the secondary the entire game guarding the middle-deep pass routes
6) Lost Evan Royster so early
Not good. THAT's where my headache this morning came from...I swear...
Give the Nittany Lions credit, however, for a 17-point fourth quarter. At least give them more credit than Musberger and Herbstreit did. Had USC not scored their last touchdown, the game would have been a squeaker.
As it was, after a botched punt snap in the fourth, a quick touchdown could have given Penn State around 25-30 seconds or so to attempt an onside kick...
Despite it all, and actual game play aside, the Rose Bowl was enjoyable to watch. A stealth fighter fly-over? Fireworks and...ahem...Cloris Leachman as Grand Marshal? That's something you don't see everyday. I even enjoyed the marching bands.
(Side note: I didn't know USC band members wore sunglasses during their performances!
And, if I remember correctly, RayBan WAS the official sponsor of the Trojan War.)
I say it every year, but this time I have even MORE reason. Look for the Nittany Lions to come back and have another phenomenal year. Daryll Clark returns as the starter, along with Royster, Greene, Brackett, and Quarless.
All-American Sean Lee returns to Linebacker U to accompany Evans, Maybin, Astorino, and Hull on defense.
Not to mention we have Ohio State (and, ahem, Iowa) at home for 2009.
So Nittany Nation, I plead you, keep your heads held high!
Wouldn't you all love to see a rematch between Penn State and USC for a national title in 2010?
I would. I promise it would be better.
As for now, it'll be a tough pill to swallow for the Blue and White faithful. All there is to do is to keep looking forward to next year with high hopes.
For the glory...