Who else? As much as it hurts. As bad as it stings. I have no other choice than to present this week’s Game Ball to none other than Matt Rhule and the Temple Owls. They earned it. They deserve it. For all of those years of snickers and snide remarks every time we saw Temple on the schedule. For every reference to being Penn State's, "little brother". For 73 years worth of losing, since 1941 to be exact, Temple can now proudly proclaim themselves the victors.
Whether this becomes a new trend, or a one-hit wonder, only time will tell. The fact is, Temple came into this one and punched us square in the jaw. They were better prepared. Their coaches made better adjustments. And, most importantly, they kept their foot on our throat once they grabbed the lead. My hats off to them. It's been a long time coming.
The silver lining of it all, if there possibly was one, is that it came at the hands of a Nittany Lion. Matt Rhule, Class of '97 and a Letterman under Joe Paterno, is in his third season as the head coach at Temple. Saturday's 27-10 victory represents his signature win to date. To be clear, there is NO silver lining. But, if Penn State had to lose, at least it lost to a Penn Stater.
As far as the Helmet Sticker's go, let's just call this one short and sweet. I am inclined to save it for another week, but after some time to cool down and realize that it's just a game and we have 11 more to go, I do have one. Joe Julius, aka Big Toe, was good on his first Field Goal attempt (34 yards) as the heir apparent to Sam Ficken. Ordinarily, I would not propose an award for doing ones job, but this was a serious position of concern heading into 2015. Big Toe, all 260lbs. of him, became an instant Internet sensation on Saturday, as well as the lone bright spot on an otherwise dreary day.
As we look ahead, and try our best to move forward, this one is hard to swallow. We did not witness much improvement between this year and last. The hype machine was fast and furious all offseason long and I am as much to blame as any. We all expected more than what we saw on Saturday. But it was just one game, folks. And it was a loss to a team that returned well over 90% of its starters from a year ago. Deep down, there must be a sense of pride that our, "little brother," finally rose up and fought back. It was bound to happen sooner or later, and, as bad a taste as it was watching their fans run around and celebrate in the parking lot afterwards, Saturday was their day to shine. Time to regroup, reload, and set our sights on Happy Valley. We have a date with Buffalo and a chance to put the past behind us.