The Bend But Don’t Break defense is broke. It allowed a normally one-dimensional Iowa Hawkeyes team to pass its way down the field and kick a winning field goal with six seconds on the clock to quash the Nittany Lions’ national title hopes. The scoreboard told the sad tale: 24-23.
I get it. The Nittany Lions players and coaches love Joe Paterno so much that they want to keep him around forever. By ending the so-called national championship hopes, they have effectively cast in concrete Paterno’s intention to coach Penn State until the cow jumps over the proverbial moon.
We could nit-pick the game plan, the players’ performances, the officiating, and the weather’s effect until the Iowa cows come home. What good will come of such ruminations? We’re not coaches, we’re Sunday morning quarterbacks. Pontificating here about what went wrong to a bunch of masochists who want it rubbed in is not what I’m all about. You’ll get to reinforce your opinions about the crappy performance elsewhere.
Give the Lions’ opponents credit where it is due. They were able to capitalize on PSU’s errors and they stuck to their game plan. Their halftime adjustments were effective. Penn State’s weren’t.
In this Turkey’s family room, better known as The Cave, a conjecture was floated that Darryl Clark might not have fully recovered from the concussion he suffered in the Ohio State game. However, he did not look sharp in either of the past two games, even before his bell was rung. It is no coincidence that he never experienced the level of pressure he was subjected to in either of the ‘Eye games. (That’s Buck- and Hawk-…) He just looked uncomfortable back there, sometimes to the extent of being rattled.
We lost. It happens. Long after we’re done crying in our beer, we’ll remember this game just as vividly as we remember the 1999 Minnesota game. It is a turning point, but we know not where it leads. Let us hope that it does not herald the arrival of a second coming of The Dark Days.
Where to now? The focus must be on winning the two remaining games in order to grab the Big Ten championship. No head-hanging. There’s work to be done. A New Year’s trip to Pasadena would be a great consolation prize. Don’t want to go to Orlando or Tampa. Hell, I live here. Oh, I wouldn’t go to Pasadena, either. I already did that in 1994, and I don’t feel like intercoastalating this year. I’m just sayin’.
I wouldn’t have wanted to have been on the thunder making big silver bird that carried the Nittany Lions from Iowa City back to State College. The atmosphere must have been so darkly thick you could cut it with an Iowa hog slaughterhouse abbatoir’s knife.
For all sad words on tongue or pen, the saddest are these: “It might have been.”