Sanctions or Not, Penn State Can Play with Anybody in the Big Ten

Tim TolleyContributor IOctober 12, 2013

STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 12:  Jeremy Gallon #21 of the Michigan Wolverines rushes against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the game on October 12, 2013 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Bill O'Brien said this week that he and his Nittany Lions football team had put the Indiana loss behind him and they were looking ahead. He even refused to answer any questions about specifics pertaining to the loss. 


"We've moved on from Indiana. We're focused on Michigan. Our guys are very, very excited about the opportunity they have Saturday night against a great Michigan team, a 5-0 team coming in here, 108,000 fans. Our guys are very focused on Michigan, learning the game plan, studying Michigan and our guys are going to show up and play hard on Saturday night. We're very focused on Michigan."

For four quarters, and the four overtimes that followed, "show up and play hard" is exactly what they did. 

In bouncing back from the Indiana loss to beat an undefeated Michigan team, this 2013 Nittany Lions squad displayed toughness that they hadn't yet shown. Despite four turnovers, missed field goals and being on the wrong end of a lopsided time of possession contest, Penn State made the plays they needed to and found a way to defeat their first ranked opponent of the season.

The confidence gained today can pay dividends throughout the rest of the season.

The Nittany Lions enter a bye week now before traveling to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes. Every player on the roster will have the confidence that they can win that game. 

Christian Hackenberg's 23-second, 80-yard touchdown drive to tie the game was the biggest drive of the freshman quarterback's infant career. If he had any doubts in his ability after tossing a pair of interceptions, that drive wiped them away. 

With all the talk of sanctions and limited scholarships, Bill O'Brien has his team focused and ready to play with anybody. Once a team like this starts believing they can play with anyone, anything can happen.