Penn State Football Exceeding Expectations This Season

Geremy GrahamCorrespondent INovember 21, 2010

Penn State quarterback, Matt McGloin
Penn State quarterback, Matt McGloinJamie Sabau/Getty Images

At the beginning of the 2010 season, I had serious doubts about Penn State football.

When looking at the schedule, there were basically three cake games that the Nittany Lions would be guaranteed to win: Youngstown State, Kent State and Temple.  You could add Indiana to that tally, but you just never know in Big Ten competition.

Looking at the rest of the games, Northwestern and Minnesota were two others that I believed the Lions could win, but could not be sure.

In total, I thought Penn State would end up 5-7 overall, and 3-5 in the Big Ten.

Some people will say this is pessimistic, but I looked at it as realistic.

It's not that I thought the Nittany Lions were a bad football team, just that they were a young team, needing big game experience to improve their resume.

Penn State had an 18-year-old true freshman at quarterback for the first time in Joe Paterno's tenure as head coach, and many questions to be answered on defense.

As I have learned through this season, things change.

After losing 24-3 against Alabama and Iowa early in the season, it seemed as if the Nittany Lions would only win the cake games, as long as they were there on the schedule.

Illinois handled the Blue and White as well, giving Penn State its third loss of the year, 33-13.

But with four wins in the past five games, Matt McGloin has emerged as the true leader of this football team, with a 3-1 record as a starter in the 2010 season.

Surprisingly, Penn State defeated Michigan and gave Ohio State a run for its money for a short while, but the Buckeyes eventually pulled away.

This was the defining moment of the season for McGloin, as the entire nation watched in anticipation in how he would handle a defeat on the big stage.

He didn't disappoint, as he came back and played a terrific game against Indiana at FedEx Field in an NFL atmosphere.

McGloin was 22 of 31 for 337 yards and threw for two touchdowns in one of his most efficient performances as a starter.

Even though McGloin's performance came against an inferior Indiana defense that conceded 83 points against Wisconsin, it is promising that McGloin bounced back from a discouraging loss to Ohio State to lead this team to a victory.

With a 7-4 (4-3 Big Ten) record, and one game remaining against No. 12 Michigan State at home, Penn State has impressed me.

I give credit to Joe Paterno and the entire Penn State football coaching staff for dealing with the adversity this year, and keeping this team focused through the thick and the thin of this season.

No matter what happens against Michigan State, we can expect good things in the future from Penn State football.