Penn State could have given up today against Northwestern after the Wildcats returned a punt to go up by 10. However, what happened after that score proved that when faced with adversity, this Nittany Lions team will not quit on this season.
After starting 2012 with two disappointing losses—at home to Ohio and on the road to Virginia—this team has turned its season around with four straight victories. If this was any year but this year, this Nittany Lions team would be a contender to win the Leaders Division in the Big Ten.
However, because of NCAA sanctions that were handed down on the program as a result of the Jerry Sandusky trial, they will not be able to qualify for any postseason games.
In Penn State’s two losses, they held leads after the first half.
Against Ohio, they held a 14-3 lead, until Ohio ripped off 17-straight points. The next week against Virginia, Penn State held a 7-3 lead at halftime and a 16-10 lead late in the fourth quarter. However, because of multiple missed field goals from kicker Sam Ficken, Penn State ended up losing 17-16.
From ESPN.com, after that loss, Penn State wide receiver Alex Kenney said, "One thing you're going to figure out about this team is we're never going to give up."
That is exactly what this team didn’t do today against Northwestern.
Down 28-17 after three quarters, this team could have packed it in and imploded, allowing Northwestern to improve its record to 6-0. The Nittany Lions had just given up a backbreaking 75-yard punt return and had zero momentum.
Will this Penn State finish atop of the Leaders division
However, the heart and soul of this team, quarterback Matthew McGloin, led three straight scoring drives in the fourth quarter, sparking 22 unanswered points.
McGloin started the quarter with an 18-play, 82-yard drive that brought the Nittany Lions back within three points of the Wildcats. Then, McGloin and this Nittany Lions team showed their greatest resolve of the season by going on a 15-play, 82-yard drive that was capped off by a McGloin five-yard rushing touchdown.
The score not only put Penn State up on the scoreboard, but it also showed the fans who stuck with this team that it was not going to cave in and lose again.
This Penn State team started the 2012 season off horribly. However, after the last four weeks, against all odds, they may finish atop of the Leaders Division and as one of the best teams in the Big Ten conference.