Game Ball & Helmet Stickers: An Afterthought

Game Ball & Helmet Stickers: An Afterthought

If you paid enough attention to James Franklin during his weekly or post-game pressers, you would have seen this one coming. He alluded to it several times since that tussle with Minnesota. One loss doesn’t kill the quest but suffer two and the damage is done. With all due respect to the Rose Bowl, sun-kissed South Beach, or any other post-season destination left on the table, we’re not playing to smell the roses, peel oranges, or to take a seat at the Outback. No, we’re playing for a spot in the playoffs. So please forgive this Nittany Lion team if it appeared their hearts just weren’t in it this past Saturday. Frankly, it wasn’t anywhere near Happy Valley as they left all they had out there in Columbus last week, and the way the Evil Empire absolutely manhandled the maize and blue in front of their own fans ought to be enough to justify that.

Rutgers, you ask? Nothing more than an afterthought. That’s not an excuse or disrespect towards their team, that’s just plain fact. So we ‘only' won by a ho-hum score of 27-6. If it was hard to get up for that game with Indiana after loss number one, how hard do you think it was to concentrate on a 2-9 Scarlet Knight squad with our hearts still left in Ohio? Most of us, including myself may not have predicted such lackluster effort but it’s not rocket science to figure out the big picture and this squad had their sights set on the playoffs. Much like we all did after the success of that three-game gauntlet midway through the season. So who are we really to nit-pick over a deflated end to the regular season?


That said, a win is a win and we’ve got 10 of them so far this season. This team rose as high as No. 4 and has hovered around the Top 10 all year. Elite? Not yet, but pretty darn close for all those that rolled their eyes last October. Do not judge this team by a three-touchdown win over the last-place Rutgers. Judge them by that effort they put up a week ago against the top-ranked team in the country. It’s only fair. This one was for our seniors and they closed their chapter in Happy Valley with another victory. That makes a grand total of 41 wins overall and puts the stamp on the third 10-win season over the past four years. It’s the first group since the Class of ‘97 to accomplish such a feat. It's been 22 years, for those keeping count. So nitpick all you want over too close for comfort, but in my book, all 16 of those seniors we celebrated with and honored on Saturday afternoon get a Game Ball and so much more as far as I’m concerned.

Helmet Stickers go out to Journey Brown and Will Levis for creating such a formidable one-two punch on the ground. Jahan Dotson for his beauty of a catch and run and Micah Parsons for manning sideline to sideline like the beast he’s been all season long. Unfortunately for those out to embarrass a team that’s been embarrassed enough, this one was nothing more than an afterthought, like it or not.

As proof, look no further than Pat Freiermuth, who released a statement in the immediate aftermath announcing his intent on returning next year to give it one last shot. Not for blowouts over Rutgers or close games versus the No. 1 team on their own turf, mind you. Nope, the big picture has shifted. We will all celebrate our final destination this Selection Sunday and pack the house as Nittany Nation always does, but it’s truly nothing more than an afterthought anymore in regards to where we all really want to be.