One Heck of a Ride

One Heck of a Ride

It’s been well over two weeks now since Beaver Stadium closed its gates and bundled up for the long winter slumber. We’ve got a catfight brewin' in Orlando as the Nittany Lions take on the Kentucky Wildcats January 1, 2019, in the Citrus Bowl and the more I look at the matchup, the more intriguing it becomes. This is clearly not your normal Wildcat squad that takes a back-seat to the basketball program, so anyone who decides to take this game lightly just might be in for a shock come New Year’s Day when the Wildcats go toe-to-toe with our Nittany Lions. But again, with that game just over three weeks away, now is not the time to jump into the fray of prediction and prognostication, although for the record, Penn State currently sits as a touchdown favorite for all those itching to know.

Folks, I’m still caught up in the afterglow of a regular season that just closed its door. Nine wins probably should have been 11, but the more I see men like SuperQuon, G. Haley, Captain Cabinda, Big Mike G, and all-time receptions leader, DaeSean Hamilton, out there making plays on Sunday afternoons, the more I realize how much this team lost a year ago and nine wins with a chance at 10 just doesn’t seem to be as dismal as it once did back in November. The question has always been if we are in a rebuilding year or we are at the stage of reloading. With the exception of the misery that went down in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a few missed plays in the other two, I'm starting to feel like we are at least on the verge of reloading; the likes that only a few such as ‘Bama, Clemson, and yep, the Buckeyes, can do year in and year out.

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It’s been one heck of a ride over the past three years. Even if our Nittany Lions never quite rose to the level of our heightened expectations, they were and are most definitely knocking on the door. Last week, KJ Hamler, Pat Freiermuth, and Micah Parsons were named freshman All-Americans, the most of any team in all the land, so if anyone thinks this ride is over, think again. The Ultimate Warrior, Trace McSorley, may be moving on, along with the debate as to where he ranks amongst our best ever, but this team is chock full of talent with another Top 15 class expected to fax their letters of intent on December 19th (this year’s early signing period) and hit the ground running. No fewer than seven of the new signees are expected to enroll in January to get a jump start on academics and the playbook, so with the Lion Tommy Stevens on deck and ready to take the keys, those expectations continue to rise heading into 2019.

First up, a curtain call in the Citrus Bowl for a legend, Trace McSorley, along with fellow seniors including Amani Oruwariye, DeAndre Thompkins, Koa Farmer and a possible bon voyage for a few underclassmen with NFL-decisions to make, namely Miles Sanders, Shareef Miller, and possibly John Reid. Yep, a catfight is brewing just outside The Magic Kingdom and it's one last time to appreciate and relish all they’ve accomplished in Blue and White. It's been one heck of a ride, Nittany Nation, but with an eye towards the future, it’s a ride that’s far from over!