Risen from the Ashes

Risen from the Ashes

The old bye-week blues, man they struck again. The turnstiles sat idle and the seats were empty. The cow pastures and parking lots void of tailgaters, and no Pregame Predictor to grace this page. For a week anyway. Six games down and six to go, with six victories sitting snug in our hip pocket. In truth, there are nine to go if your bleeding heart of Blue has us going all the way as mine does. In front of us stands the storm: The Gauntlet as it’s been labeled since opening day. A benchmark of tests both home in our own friendly confines and on the road in the most hostile of territory.

It’s a journey to separate the men from the boys. A journey that did not start last month, but one that began years ago. This is not a squad of Nittany Lions full of fresh faces, but one with grizzled demeanor and experience, the true definition of team. We are witnessing the culmination of it all right before our very eyes. Cabinda, Gesicki, Haley, Hamilton, Blacknall, and Allen just to name a few. Warriors that do not require a first name to know who they are. These men and many others are legends forever in our minds, win, lose, or draw. They stared mediocrity in the eyes and rose from the ashes rather than taking the fall.


They watched as Maryland refused a handshake. They let a game-ending interception slip through their hands at Northwestern and a game-winning catch fall through their fingertips at Pitt. They let an O-Lineman run up the score at Michigan State and stood helpless as Michigan took advantage of their injury-riddled defense. They’ve been labeled ‘stone hands' by some of us, weak up-front by others, and were told their seat was hot and getting hotter without that ‘signature win' under their belt. They’ve been dissected and nit-picked to death but refused to listen, as we demanded victory without letting this journey take its course. These men are warriors in Blue and White, risen from the ashes and fighting the fight.

I watched as Clemson lost on Saturday night, and was almost tempted to credit destiny once again. I saw the comparisons to US Soccer missing the World Cup for the first time since 1986, and was just as tempted as you to remember our victory in the Arizona desert 30 years ago. More than once this weekend, as we sat idly by nursing those old bye-week blues, the thought passed my mind that all the stars have started to align, only to realize that it’s not 2016. No, what we have today instead is a culmination of it all. The dividends are finally being paid. So, bring it on Michigan. Your payback awaits, and WE ARE going to finish the job on your own old turf nemesis: Ohio State. The Gauntlet does not faze these warriors in Blue and White, these men have risen from the ashes together and lived to fight the fight.