Penn State Football: Why Virginia Game Will Make or Break PSU for Entire Season

Peter EmerickSenior Writer IISeptember 7, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 01: Bill Belton #1 of the Penn State Nittany Lions football team pumps up the crowd before playing the Ohio Bobcats at Beaver Stadium on September 1, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Nothing brings people together like adversity. We see it all the time when tragedy happens.

We find what people are truly made of when their backs are up against the wall and they have to fight for everything they can possibly earn.

Now, I'm not saying that what happened, sanction-wise, to Penn State's football program is a tragedy, because it certainly isn't. The real tragedy is what happened to the victims of Jerry Sandusky's despicable and disgusting acts.

With that being said, Penn State's current football team finds itself caught between the actions of a man they never knew and a future that is uncertain to say the least.

Penn State's current roster is faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge. The challenge of choosing the road less traveled that leads to the task of rebuilding an entire football program and its tarnished image.

That football team failed at its first chance to move forward, and it did so by adhering to the emotion of its beloved fans instead of handling that emotion with discipline and maturity.

Penn State's 24-14 loss at the hands of the Ohio Bobcats wasn't exactly a step back because Ohio is actually a very talented MAC team. Penn State's loss, however, does increase the importance of its upcoming road contest against the currently undefeated Virginia Cavaliers.

Saturday's matchup with Virginia is a game that Penn State absolutely must win if it wants to have any semblance of a successful season.

A win against Virginia would not only put a "W" in the wins column for Penn State, but also it would also give the program and its fans a much-needed boost of confidence and excitement. A jolt of energy that was sucked out of the program last week after its loss to Ohio.

If Penn State loses to Virginia, the Nittany Lions' season will be all but over. Not only will they have lost their first two games of the season for the first time in 10 years. They will also have lost all motivation for trying to begin Penn State's rebuilding process this season.

Some will say that Penn State has nothing to play for this year, or the next three seasons for that matter. But in reality, the Nittany Lions are playing to prove to themselves and the world around them that they, as a football program and a student body, aren't going to fade away because of the horrific actions of a few men.

A Penn State loss to Virginia will not show that it lost to a better team. It will show that the Nittany Lions lost to themselves. They fell to the pressure of the media and all the critics around them. They will have shown that being the foundation for the rebuilding of a program was too much for a group of young men to handle.

A loss to Virginia will mean that Penn State has truly lost its fire and forgot what it means to fight for what you believe in and what you stand for.

Saturday's game against Virginia is more than a football game. It's Penn State's final chance to stand for what it wants to become over the next few seasons, a team that no one believes in but the Nittany Lions themselves.

If Penn State wants to be something great, it must beat Virginia.