The Victory Dance

The Victory Dance

If nothing else comes out of 2020, the record will always show that an 0-5 Penn State squad rolled into Ann Arbor, Michigan, and promptly defeated our old nemesis Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines. Now, how’s that for getting back on track in the fast lane, Nittany Nation? Normally I follow up wins like this by handing out the game ball but excuse me if I simply breathe a huge sigh of relief first. The 27-17 win over the Wolverines on their own home turf (first time since ’09 I remind you) may not represent the shot that propels us back into the playoff picture or anything crazy like that, but it’s certainly enough to jolt us from our numbness.

They say a victory is the cure for all that ails us and after going from no football at all in August, to 0-5 doing its best to ruin a socially distanced Thanksgiving, a victory dance is exactly what the doctor ordered. If there was any doubt where James Franklin’s head was through all this, whatever weight that held him down was clearly lifted as he praised his squad’s determination, fight, and grit in the post-game presser. I spent a week or two trying to justify his folded arms and lack of sideline demeanor as some kind of extreme Covid-phobia or something, but it turns out he was lost in a bizarre world like the rest of us.


Looking back I’d be willing to bet, like us, Franklin’s jaw was dropped behind his mask as we all watched the Nittany Lions struggle to get off the blocks and fail to finish five weeks in a row. It all changed last week as his team drove downfield late in the fourth quarter to smash the one and only futile attempt of a Michigan comeback. His arms unfolded, the passion arose, and FrankLion re-appeared. Save the hot seat talk for Harbaugh, there’s little doubt who captains Penn State’s ship as you could feel his pride permeating from watching his team scratch and claw their way through their struggles.

I can only imagine the Nittany Lion locker room inside the Big House after this one. For all our angst this fall, it was ultimately up to those kids to figure it out and they reaped the rewards of refusing to give up. As for game balls, who do you turn to really? The five true freshmen on offense that made it loud and clear the future is as bright today as it seemed to be this summer? The two quarterbacks that were finally able to pull themselves out of the quicksand? A bend but don’t break defense that found a way to slam the door shut? How ‘bout Isaac Lutz who took advantage of his chance to shine or an O-Line that kept their QB stress-free and opened lanes with a win hanging in the balance? I could single any of them out and be justified but this one was a total team effort so today, we’ll savor the moment before we turn our attention to Rutgers, and let the well-earned victory dance speak for itself.