It wasn't always pretty, and it came down to the final minute or so, but Penn State got the job done, beating Syracuse 23-17. And so the second season under Coach Bill O'Brien gets off to a roaring start, under the shaky (at times) leadership of a true freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg who is still learning the game but obviously has great potential. At the end of the game, O'Brien relied on the defense to secure the win, not daring to risk another offensive turnover in a game that had plenty of ups and downs for both teams.
This was a most unusual game for me and especially for my husband Terry. We weren't actually there. For the first time since September 1990 my husband Terry was not able to make a Penn State game in person, and the last game I missed was September 2001, a game in Iowa City that Terry went to but I stayed home due to a sick animal.
I described why we had to cancel all away games in a prior blog post. For this game, we were supposed to board a bus on Friday to head to Secaucus, New Jersey for two nights and the game at MetLife Stadium.
Instead, we were in a private hospital room at Mount Nittany Hospital where Terry is recovering from a partial lung collapse and other complications related to his illness.
At least we had a decent HDTV to watch the game. And also, the MRI technician on duty was kind enough to schedule an ordered test around the game. I was assured that Terry would be on the table by 2:30 for his MRI or it would wait until after the game. And so I held my breath as kickoff was about to happen and Terry wasn't back yet. But he did arrive with 30 seconds to spare!
And so I sat in a recliner next to Terry, with Internet access plugged into an open thread on Facebook run by the private group Penn State Football Nation. This is a group recommended to me when I was trying to sell my two tickets to the Syracuse game (which I had in hand. Penn State is reimbursing me for the remaining tickets we ordered). And so I applied to be accepted to the group.
Here's its description: "A relaxing comfortable place to come and talk about Penn State Football, tips about tailgating, exchanging tailgating recipes,
posting photos, contests and many other things related to Penn State
football. We don't talk about a scandal, BoT elections or other disheartening items."
In other words, it's a drama-free site, and one where the administrators work very hard to keep out any trolls who want to denigrate Penn State or talk about guess who. How the administrators do that is a mystery to me, but it really works. It's a fun group of avid Penn State football fans whom I've enjoyed getting to know over the past few weeks.
And it was fun to banter back and forth during the game about what was happening on the field. A new experience for me, this open thread stuff.
The Penn State Football Nation is also a very caring group who promised to serve as my eyes and ears at the game. At about 12 noon here is a photo that came across my Facebook page:
The words on the poster read: "Carolyn and Terry Todd; The Streak Continues; You Are Here in Our Hearts; Get Well Soon Terry."
We couldn't have asked for a better start to the football season than this message. Thank you, Todd Speck, Melinda Wright, and whoever else organized this!
What's remarkable is that I have not physically met a single person in this picture. It's simply through this one Facebook discussion group that I've come to know them.
And that says a lot about what it means to be a part of this phenomenon called the Penn State football family.
I will write more later about the game itself and what it's like to watch a game on TV after over a decade of being in the stands. I will even post photos from the game, taken by others who are helping me show what it's like at the game.
But for now I just want to urge any Penn State fan who wants to join the Penn State Football Nation to check them out on Facebook. Again, it's not an open group. You have to request membership and then be admitted. But if you're a true fan that's not a problem. I hope you enjoy the drama-free Penn State football discussions, and experienced the love of all things Penn State football, as much as I have.