It's no secret that the Nittany Lions entered the 2012 season facing unprecedented adversity and negativity. Fans filled Beaver Stadium in Week 1, only to leave disappointed by the result. Team confidence could already be running low after the loss to Mid-American Conference member Ohio.
A loss at Virginia on Saturday would give Penn State on 0-2 start and just add to the adversity. While a winless start is the last thing Penn State needs this year, it wouldn't be the end of the world for the Nittany Lions. This team has more to play for than just wins.
The next few years are about more than championships for Penn State. The players will be playing for pride and to show the country that Penn State football is still alive and still worth cheering for.
Bill O'Brien and his staff will work to show top recruits that Penn State is still a great place to come spend four years.
For most teams, an 0-2 start all but eliminates the hope of any type of championship and therefore disappoints an entire fanbase.
The bottom line for Penn State is that they could go 12-0 on the year and still not win a championship. Due to the NCAA sanctions placed on the program, Penn State will not be able to compete for a championship or take part in postseason play for the next four years.
Fans already know that any win only helps with pride and confidence. In the eyes of the NCAA, Penn State victories over the next four years mean nothing.
Yes, the players will want to put up wins in 2012. Starting 0-2 would be a big blow to the confidence of this team. However, the season is 12 games long, with several chances for victories.
Yes, this team has some issues at running back and in the defensive secondary, but they did show promise in Week 1. Quarterback Matt McGloin looked comfortable in the new pro-style offense. Chances are that Bill O'Brien will get his offensive scheme to start clicking even more at some point during the season.
The wins will come this season. It could be 2 or even 10.
The fans at Penn State understand that the issues going on are larger than football. Based on the atmosphere inside Beaver Stadium last Saturday, the fans in Happy Valley are happy to have a team on the field and to get back some sense of normalcy.
The players who chose to stick around at Penn State will play their hearts out each week and be proud to wear the blue and white.
While everyone wants wins, the fact that they are out there competing at all should start to help restore the once rich and proud tradition of Penn State Football.
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