Saturday, I watched Penn State beat Pitt for the 53rd time in 100 games. The general consensus was that it was a sloppy, ugly win. I wonder, has Penn State ever played a game against Pitt that wasn’t ugly? A Nittany Lion vs. Panther matchup is dreadful by definition. It’s a game we only enjoy at all because we love to hate Pitt. I’m Penn State proud of our team’s performance. What game were you watching?
In the game I watched, I saw Pitt shut out after halftime. I stared as Penn State’s defense stopped first and goal from the one-yard line three times before Pitt missed an ill-advised field goal attempt. I saw the defense hold Pitt to 24 rushing yards on 25 carries. I beheld Micah Parsons’s nine tackles and a tipped pass, and Cam Brown’s seven tackles, a sack and more.
I cheered as Jordan Stouted kicked four touchbacks, and dropped my jaw in awe as he made an unbelievable, record-setting 57-yard field goal. I watched Blake Gillikin averaged 42 yards per punt and place most of them inside the Panther’s twenty.
I saw freshman Noah Cain’s impressive drive to put what ended up being the winning touchdown on the scoreboard. I watched Journey Brown make an 85-yard run. I witnessed Sean Clifford get knocked down many times and get back up once more.
I observed James Franklin's composure in the face of questionable penalties and seemingly missed calls. It’s apparent that Franklin controls the weather on the sidelines and his emotional self-regulation shouldn’t be understated.
Where you saw “ugly,” I saw a tough, physical, hard-fought, competitive game. I saw a game that was different than the other two we’ve played this season. I watched countless learning opportunities that can only serve to prepare this young team for whatever they face in upcoming games.
I’ve seen how this team can come from behind and that it can make adjustments at halftime. Where you saw a team that’s going to struggle against Big Ten opponents, I saw a team that’s gaining invaluable experience. I saw a team overcoming adversity.
That’s the thing about sports. There are no guarantees. You can have all the expectations in the world and you will be disappointed. You can analyze and project one game onto the rest of the season and you’ll be wrong. Prepare as best you can, give it all you’ve got on the field, and see what happens. If we knew the outcome, we’d lose the excitement.
The game I watched was a win over Pitt and in the words of Coach Narduzzi, I’m going to enjoy the bragging rights for years and possibly forever.