It finally happened.
The Penn State Nittany Lions won their first game in the post-Sandusky scandal and Joe Paterno-less era. They didn’t just win, they blew away a struggling Navy Midshipmen team.
It came at the expense of those Midshipmen. Penn State never trailed and were in complete control against their service academy opponents Saturday afternoon.
In what could have been considered a devastating blow to the morale of an already battered collective Penn State psyche, the Nittany Lions rose to the occasion and avoided a third consecutive loss by routing Navy, 34-7. They led 34-0 in the fourth quarter until Navy finally got on the board.
What does this win mean for the 1-2 Nittany Lions as they approach their grueling Big Ten conference schedule? They will face the Temple Owls in their final nonconference matchup on September 22.
No one had any expectations in Happy Valley heading into 2012; none for the next few seasons, for that matter. This win softens the blow of an offseason full of negativity and despair surmounting around the school’s football program.
It should do the Nittany Lion faithful well in mending those wounds and help in moving forward. The first win is the hardest, and now that it’s finally come to pass, the fears of a winless season are out the window.
Now the team, its students and its fans can begin to look at the bigger picture of the rest of the season without that fear in the back of their minds. There is still a lot of football left to play and a lot can change over the course of the next nine weeks.
All Penn State can do is keep moving and looking forward.
Brighter days are ahead. Well, maybe not anytime soon.
But they’re out there, down the line, somewhere.
Mike Hoag is a Trends and Traffic writer for Bleacher Report and also covers the Cleveland Browns and the NFL for the site.