By Dawn Meyer
I don’t know a single fan who wasn’t nervous looking at the scheduled season opener against Wisconsin. We kind of like our “sisters of the poor” match ups. Let’s just get our feet wet and work out the kinks before we play a top ranked opponent on the road, right?
Instead we got a lively Camp Randall Stadium, filled to the brim with fans fired up to be back in the stands. We got the Badgers with their touted O-line and consistently top defense. We were snubbed by the so-called experts and their pre-game picks. Likely, no one except the most loyal among us thought we’d pull out a win. There we were: Nittany Lions as underdogs.
Don’t you secretly love us as the underdog, though? Is there really anything better than rising above the expectations? Taking the college football scene by surprise? I’m a sucker for sports triumph. I love nothing more than our Nittany Lions competing as if to say “Here WE ARE.”
Maybe in hindsight we’re rethinking the cupcake team openers. Maybe what we need is to start out with a bang and make a statement. Penn State marched into Wisconsin ready to battle. The Nittany Lion defense was impressive, not perfect, with three takeaways in the red zone. Special teams contributed a blocked field goal. The offense started slow in the first half but adjustments and the sheer will to keep showing up set up big plays in the second half.
You can’t conjure a more thrilling season opener than the one our Nittany Lions played. Against all odds, in a game when you expect a ton of mistakes to be made on both sides, Penn State gutted out a hard-nosed, tough-fought win.
I don’t know a single fan who didn’t need the rest of the afternoon to return their heart rate to normal or all this week to regrow their bitten nails. While Penn State prepares for Ball State, I’ll be over here waiting for the new rankings to come out like it's Christmas. Watch out college football because here WE ARE!