A small (by our standards) but raucous Beaver Stadium crowd fell silent as he lay on the turf after delivering three years of punishment to opponents, unable to rise. Once he did, the cheers were there of course but it was an eerie feeling as we all watched #9 limp towards the sidelines with help from staff. We all know the legend of Tommy Stevens and knew we'd be fine with him at the helm, but it was almost surreal seeing Trace in that situation. Tommy did as expected, leading our squad to 10 points on two drives and before long, Trace came back out with the Heart of a Lion and ripped a 55-yard burst down the sideline for a touchdown. Tommy's time is coming and we all have a sparkle in our eye, but this team belongs to #9 and he’s earned the right to finish the job on his terms. Week in and week out I do my best to hand out that week’s Game Ball to someone new because quite frankly, I could easily hand it to Trace every time, but today this one belongs to him for proving once and for all how much he means to all of us.
This week’s 30-24 victory over the red-hot Hawkeyes had by no means a shortage of stars when delivering Helmet Stickers and it all begins and ends with Stevens for proving we have much to look forward to after Trace departs. KJ Hamler continues to terrorize in all facets and Miles Sanders, although held under 100, gave the nation’s best front seven all they could handle. DeAndre Thompkins finally came alive and tight end Pat Freiermuth continues to rise. On defense, Yetur Gross-Matos had a monster day as did Cam Brown, who was all over the field. Nick Scott slammed the door shut late and John Reid played with reckless abandon much to our delight. Johnny Sutherland filled in admirably while Garrett Taylor sat the first half out and Iowa-native, Jake Pinegar, was perfect on the day in both field goals and extra points despite the less than ideal conditions. Last, but most definitely not least, Helmet Stickers to all our military vets and active duty who refused to let something as minuscule as a Nor’easter ruin Military Appreciation Day. Our most sincere Thank You to all who have served!
We may not have been the underdogs as I erroneously thought this time last week but make no mistake about it, this one was a must-win if there ever was one. We could not have started any worse than we did on Saturday afternoon, and yet, we hung in there and settled in. In the end, it was the heart of a Lion that kept this season alive, not to mention a young defense that is starting to grow up right before our eyes. Up next, we visit the Ghost of Ann Arbor as Penn State travels to Michigan and guess what? This time WE ARE….the underdogs. By 11 points to be exact as of Sunday afternoon. Buckle up Nittany Nation, the Wolverines have no idea what’s getting ready to hit them!