Sunday, September 27, 2009

Good teams find a way to win. Iowa was good, we weren’t

I’ll leave it to the sports pundits to figure out what went wrong in last night’s 21-10 loss to Iowa. There seem to be plenty of candidates for bad plays and poor performance on the part of Penn State. Joe Paterno was right – it was a team loss, no one individual was responsible for the performance.

But we should also credit Iowa. Iowa took advantage of opportunities and found a way to win. I was worried about the game, I figured it would be close, but I also figured that the White House atmosphere would give Penn State a slight winning advantage. Wrong. Iowa is simply a better team than Penn State is right now. Even though, theoretically, Penn State might have more talent. But it wasn’t talent that mattered. It was the ability to execute.

Last night was one of those nights when it was very tempting to just stay home. But I have this attendance streak, right? I had even announced it in the Centre Daily Times Penn State Memories column that it would be 99 games in a row. I wrote that article in the summer, and was afraid I might have jinxed myself.

I was feeling “under the weather” (no pun intended) so I bundled up really warmly – several layers of warmth – under my Goretex rain suit. We didn’t really tailgate before the game, we arrived late and sat in the car or under golf umbrellas until it was time to go into the stadium. No parties for us. Go to the game, tough out the weather, and hopefully witness a win.

I did stay dry, and it wasn’t too cold after all. But it was miserably wet, and my camera had to stay out of the relentless rain for most of the game. The one thing I didn’t plan for was my feet – they were soaked. And walking back to our parking spot on the grass was a bit treacherous as well. In a number of areas the grass had turned to mud. I have already had one sprained ankle due to that muddy grass, back in 2006. So we were very careful to avoid even the slightest hill on our route back to the car.

It would have all been worth it had we pulled off a win. We had plenty of time after Iowa scored that touchdown on a blocked punt, and then didn’t make the two-point conversion. The score was only 11-10 in favor of Iowa.

So I turned to Terry and said, “Now we’ll see what this Penn State team can do.” Can they come from behind? Like they did in 2005 at Northwestern? I was thinking of Michael Robinson’s 4th down pass to Derrick Williams to keep a drive alive that turned out to be the key play of the 2005 season.

Even after the score was 18-10, there were still opportunities. Turns out, Penn State couldn’t do much. They faced adversity for the first time this season and failed.

So on to our first road trip at Illinois. How Penn State will bounce back from this loss will tell us what sort of team they will be this season.


  1. I am still not over the loss!! I am so bummed. I am now very nervous for this weekend. Will I break my TV this weekend, or will I be pleased with the performance? I guess we will find out on Saturday. The Illini have underperformed. They are due for a breakout game. I am hoping they break out next week, not this one.

  2. Buy some nerf balls or something to throw at your TV just in case.

    I've been nervous about Illinois since the beginning of the season. Last week's humiliating loss won't help the situation. The Illini will be angry.

    But then...Penn State will be too.

  3. What's your prediction? I say we win 24-21. we will be down the whole game and score a touchdown in the fourth quarter to win it when we are down 21-17..I think the Illini break out but make some mistakes in the end. If we win it will be a nice bounce back because Illinois is a good team despite their record. I hope I am wrong and PSU blows them would save me from throwing things..but i am feeling a close one.

  4. Nathan, I haven't even thought about the game itself. This week has been such a roller coaster ride in terms of whether or not Terry or me or both would even GET to the game. So that was resolved only at 8 p.m. tonight and then when I went to check in for a six a.m. flight tomorrow morning, I discovered that my flight schedule had been completely changed from what I booked in May. Including an 8 hour connection delay in Detroit on the way out and a 6 hour connection delay returning to SC on the way home. Awful. So been on the phone with the airline dealing with that.

    Anyhow I'll take ANY win at Illinois. Even if it's only a 1 point difference. Illinois is a tough place to play and we've had some great battles there including the 1994 4-minute Kerry Collins drive that was the key to being undefeated that year.

    If we get behind at Illinois, I'm not sure this team can catch up. I didn't see anything last week that suggests the team has the "killer instinct" to come from behind. It would be good for the team if it happened, though.

    More tomorrow. I'll have time to think about the game on the plane tomorrow and will try to post a blog when I get to the hotel early evening.