It’s not that I think we can’t, or even that we won’t bring home a W with us from Michigan. Nope, on any given Saturday anything is possible. It’s not that I’m afraid of the Wolverines and their lofty #4 ranking or the fact that all of the so-called odd-makers have them winning by 19 points or more. Those things mean nothing to me. It’s definitely not out of fear of old Jimmy Harbaugh. On the contrary, I firmly believe he’s a catastrophe waiting to happen and in the not-so-distant future. he will let his Alma Mater down in a big way. No, my friends, there’s only one reason I wrestle with this dilemma and it doesn’t have a darn thing to do with the maize and blue.
My struggle this week has nothing to do with the opponent and everything to do with the hands of time. It’s not a question of if we can compete with the so-called “big dogs,” but rather a question of are we ready to compete. Therein lies my dilemma. To be clear, I absolutely love this squad of Nittany Lions. I love the direction they’re headed. I love the way the new offense is evolving. I love the way James Franklin and Co. are building this team from the ground up. The only problem is, I firmly believe that we are only on the ground floor at this stage in the season, building a team that will not only compete with the big dogs but one that will command respect as a big dog when the time comes. Brick by brick. I can see it in McSorley’s eyes after a close one at Pitt and saw it in Gesicki's work ethic during the off season. I see it in Barkley’s body language after he’s had enough of being bullied around and takes matters into his own hands and I can see it in a defense decimated by injury that continues to scratch and claw until the final whistle.
My friends, this week and this week only, I choose to refrain from my usual pregame prediction due to the fact that the scales are not tipped in our favor…yet. Jim Harbaugh walked into a room full of 4 and 5 star studs that simply needed to be coached up, whereas James Franklin walked into a room full of empty seats, thanks to the NCAA. After two years on the job, those seats are filled and everyone in that room is on a mission. With every game that this squad plays together, their bond as brothers grows stronger. The day will come when the likes of Michigan sees us as a big dog once again, bank on it. The day will come soon enough when Penn State is top-heavy with seniors and upperclassmen with the battle scars to prove it.
For the record, on any given Saturday anyone stands a chance and Penn State stands as good of a chance as any to topple a big dog at the Big House. We’re a team on the rise in search of respect, going up against a team that’s had little adversity. We’re a squad that has nothing to lose and everything to gain. WE ARE the Underdog, once again. It’s a role that we have come to relish over the course of our history on the gridiron. Win, lose, or draw on Saturday at the Big House, it's all just a part of the process to get to where we’re ultimately meant to be. With that being said, maybe my dilemma this week really isn’t a struggle after all, when you’re able to see the big picture. LET’S GO LIONS!!!