Confidence is Key

Confidence is Key

"Besides pride, loyalty, discipline, heart, and mind, confidence is the key to all the locks."-JVP

That’s the quote Lions Pride posted last Saturday morning. Honestly, I kind of thought it was an odd choice at first. Was confidence really the key to this game?

We all have Penn State pride, and certainly, we’re loyal. Even those of us who complain the loudest probably feel they do so because they love this team. Discipline, heart, and mind are traits Nittany Lions are never lacking. Confidence is a tough balance; it’s easy to lean too far into overconfident or fall into self-doubt.

Indiana’s coach told his players to not even bother getting on the bus if they didn’t think they could win. He checked their confidence pulse from the get-go and they were ready. They proved on the field that they were here to compete and win. And they were too close to doing so for comfort.

It’s amazing to me how one solitary tough loss can change the entire mood of the season. As if the eight wins meant far less with the dark cloud of one loss overshadowing them. I felt apathetic going into Saturday’s game: we were either going to win or not, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it except watch. Why would I ever lack the confidence in our team to beat Indiana on our home turf, a place in which they have never won?! Because that’s the thing about the one solitary loss—it tends to turn into another, and then another.


In the final quarter, I listened on the radio while baking bread. I paused with breath held as the Nittany Lions took a time out to make a decision on fourth and goal. Jack Ham and Steve Jones mulled over the options for their audience. One of them said the decision comes down to how much confidence do you have in your program right now.

What we see on the field is rarely as simple and two teams playing a game. Indiana stomped into Beaver Stadium fully intending to ram a win through our cracked confidence, and they were not shy about vocalizing their intentions. It’s not just the Hoosiers we battled, but ourselves as well. If we seemed shaky, maybe it was because we were shaking off the demons. Where others saw an ugly win, we can look closer to see the beauty of a team who finds a way to success after a heartbreaking loss.

Perhaps confidence was the key to beating Indiana after all. Next week we’ll need every single one of those keys—pride, loyalty, disciple, heart, mind, and confidence—to be in full effect. Add a little bit of Penn State magic and keep a wing and a prayer in reserve because WE ARE about to upset the Buckeyes.