“It’s risky,” said experience.
“It’s pointless,” said reason.
“Give it a try,” whispered the heart.
Those words by an unknown author, along with a background of the Penn State Whiteout, are a meme that’s been going around the internet for years now. If I were to guess its origin, I would pinpoint it being put up for the very first time somewhere around the summer of 2012, or maybe early in 2014. For those who haven’t seen it, that should give you a pretty good picture of its powerful intent given how unknown and gloomy things were for Penn State at the time. It was our darkest hour back then, whether it goes as far back as that fateful summer or only as far back as the day Bill O'Brien broke our hearts. The point is, back in those days, the only choice we had was to believe and we only had each other.
Why then did this old picture of days gone by feel so darn appropriate once I switched my mind over to the ‘Evil Empire’ week? I mean, maybe it was all a dream but correct me if I’m wrong, weren’t we all just celebrating the rise to No. 4 not too long ago? I get it, so we took the L in Minnesota. It happens, so what? Sure, things were a little bit on shaky ground last week with Indiana, but let’s be honest, that game was never really in jeopardy. Nothing more than working out some kinks. Why then did the word impossible dominate my brain when this week began?
The way this week kicked off, you would think it really was a flashback of 2014. You know, the year we had a grand total of 48 scholarship players on our sideline but still took the eventual National Champ Buckeyes all the way to double overtime before finally succumbing under the weight of all those erroneous yellow flags. I’m sure the point spread was as large back then in their favor as it is against us today. Vegas has us pegged down as 19 point dogs but don’t they know we tend to relish the role? It’s impossible, said pride. But it really wasn’t.
Or maybe this week reverted back to 2012 instead, the year we were predicted to crumble. After all, if memory serves, which it shamefully does, our own Sam Ficken was the recipient of death threats following an untimely loss to UVA. Much like Sean Clifford did after going down swinging in Minneapolis a few weeks ago. That was news we all could have done without. To whomever that was, and there were more than a couple reportedly, SHAME on you! I refuse to dignify you with any more acknowledgment. No, as similar as this week may have been, this is no flashback to those years or any other. Seems like when it comes to the Evil Empire from Columbus, we always play second fiddle before the game even begins. It’s pointless to even play, said reason. Remember that? It’s not though, and we’ve proven that more than any other conference opponent over the years.
We gave them all they could handle, and then some, with one arm tied behind our back in 2014. We beat them and their Heisman winning QB inside the Lions Den back in 2005, and we snuffed out their dreams three years later with the golden boy from PA that snubbed his home state, inside the Shoe. We rose from the depths to take back our swagger all at their expense in 2016 and for two years straight, we’ve had them on the ropes, just barely unable to deliver the knockout blow.
So why now did this week begin as such an impossible endeavor, according to pride? I get it, they’re the golden child. They’re the team that gets gifted a quarterback without having to sit out a year like everyone else. They get legitimate suspensions lifted just in time for their clash with us. Go figure. Every call in the book goes their way and the same refs that handed them a win in double overtime are there again this week. In short, they are the darlings of the NCAA and everyone outside the state of Ohio knows it.
They want you to think that beating them is impossible and for a split second consider me guilty as charged. As the week’s lingered on, I reminded myself that WE ARE the ones that keep them on their toes time and again. We’ve beaten them in our house and in theirs. We’ve gone blow for blow with the Evil Empire before and come out on top, no matter what the point spread says. They’ve breezed through their cupcake schedule while we’ve been through battles very few could survive and we are still standing. They may be undefeated, but they haven’t met US yet. This monster of a game won’t be won on the first play, the first quarter or at halftime so hang in there until the end Nittany Nation because in the end, I BELIEVE and so do you! They lace them up just like we do and on any given Saturday we can beat them like all the rest: Penn State 27, Evil Empire 23.