Pregame Predictor: The Long Road
Lo and behold, later that day Vegas oddsmakers came by and pulled the rug right from under me and made us a 4.5-point favorite. I was so ready to be the underdog again that I guess I jumped the gun, so my apologies for that folks. Kind of. After being called out on my mistake more than a few times, it really got me thinking. Are we not the underdog, even though Vegas says we're not? If not, I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to say our backs are against the wall. Is this week's Big Ten battle a make or break on a season that veered off its playoff course? Maybe, maybe not, but with what lies ahead, we better find some of that old mojo of ours and fast.
As far as last week's concerned, the fact is not lost on me that we’ve fallen into unexpected dogfights with Indiana on their home turf before. As recent as that magical Big Ten Championship season of 2016, the Hoosiers went toe-to-toe with our Nittany Lions before Brandon Bell stuck a dagger in them with a game-ending scoop and score. If you want to go back further we can go as far back as 1994 when a paltry showing, with a 35-29 win over Indiana in Bloomington, actually knocked us off our perch at No. 1 in the polls and eventually cost us the National Championship. I should have known as much as everyone else that what happened out in Eerie, Indiana wasn’t anything out of the norm, and yet, here I am in underdog mode again. The No. 18 Iowa Hawkeyes are staring us in the face and looking for revenge over that walk-off home run Trace McSorley drove down their throats a year ago.
We may be favored in this one but to some, this season’s already come unhinged thanks to that new found ‘playoffs or bust’ mentality that has crept it’s way into Happy Valley slowly over the past few years. So I apologize for my error this past Sunday, but I saw enough doom and gloom among us that it was time to throw on that old underdog cape again and rally the troops. The forecast calls for an old-fashioned Big Ten slugfest. An October Nor'easter is headed our way and it promises to pack a punch. Tickets are flying off the shelf but I’ve seen defiance as well.
The bandwagon has emptied and what’s left are all of us that are happy and content to just sit back and enjoy the long road as it all unfolds. I was reminded of that by a parent of one of our young stud Nittany Lions this week. They’ve already bought into what FrankLion is selling and it’s the long road that counts in the end. Quite frankly, the bandwagon was too full anyway so I’ll just stick with the ones that bleed Blue through thick and thin. Penn State rises to the occasion this week on a soggy day and sends the Hawkeyes on the long road back to Iowa 34-20!