It’s Homecoming weekend and despite the threat of Hurricane Mathew looming on the southeast coast, the bruised and battered Nittany Lions have one final test before a much-needed bye week to rest the weary. The pandemonium that engulfed us all during the overtime victory over the Gophers a week ago has been replaced with a business-like attitude with all eyes on redemption. Two years ago, the handshake snub aside, Maryland walked into Beaver Stadium with an attitude and walked away with a one-point victory. A season ago, we battled it out in Baltimore and came away with the 31-30 win. Consider this the rubber match. A chance to notify the Terrapins that an act of disrespect will not be tolerated on our own turf. It’s an opportunity to settle a score and restore the honor at home. The Homecoming crowd expects no less, and the threat of rain will do little to wash away those expectations. Maryland enters with an undefeated record and zero plans of adding a blemish to a so-far perfect season.
Now, my friends, I ask you not to twist what I’m about to say. At the moment (key word), Maryland is as much a rival as any. At the moment, I say again, we share the region, we squabble over the same recruits in the coveted DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) corridor, and since their induction into the Big Ten, we have battled each other into a stalemate. Just to add a little juice to my theory, the point-spread and betting lines have had us flip-flopping around a single point all week long. That being said, Maryland does not have the stability, the history, nor the following to maintain itself as our newfound rival, but, at the moment, they are as close our rival as it gets. Like it or not. Eventually, our world will right itself and we will once again resume a quest for championships instead of simply settling a score with the middle of the pack, but, at the moment, we’ll take what we can get.
For the record, and in case you couldn’t tell, there’s no love lost between Penn State and the Maryland Terrapins. They represent nothing more than a tune-up over the course of our history while they have tried their best to take advantage of our recent misfortune with the NCAA. They see themselves as our rival, and at the moment they make a valid case considering how close the recent games have been and how close this game is expected to be. They roll into Happy Valley with an undefeated record and a dose of misguided swagger, considering the lack of competition they’ve faced up to this point. The likes of Howard, Florida International, and Purdue are a far cry from the likes of Pitt, Michigan, and Minnesota. Penn State is battle-tested and has spent this season with their backs against the wall already. We're battered and bruised, and hanging by a thread, but there’s enough left in the tank to serve a Homecoming crowd a steaming hot bowl of turtle soup to warm the soul on what’s expected to be another soggy day. The reward is a week’s worth of rest and added momentum with a Whiteout up next on the agenda. Handshake or not, I’ll take the boys in Blue and White in another shootout, 38-35!