[Column] Come Back Early For Michigan State Because The Team Deserves It
Senior Day always seems to come at the most inopportune time. As the last home game, it always comes right before or after Thanksgiving — making it an inconvenience for students to return for.
Sitting at home with your family and watching the game from the comfort of your couch might’ve seemed more appealing in the past, but this year is different. These Nittany Lions have a special opportunity ahead of them, and they deserve a packed house at Beaver Stadium to cheer them on.
If the stars align, Penn State could make the Big Ten Championship Game and potentially the College Football Playoff — all the Lions need is a little help from a few teams. With a Michigan loss and a Penn State win, Penn State goes to Indianapolis to compete for the Big Ten Championship. If the Lions win that, it’s looking more and more probable that the College Football Playoff Committee will take two Big Ten teams in the playoff.
Even though the Nittany Lions are on an impressive run lately, they’ll need the help of the passionate fanbase on Saturday. We all know how loud it gets in Beaver Stadium, and against Ohio State most of us witnessed firsthand how deafening that stadium can really get. There is no denying it: Penn State just plays better when Beaver Stadium is full and rocking.
It’s no secret that the students are the most vocal part of the crowd on gameday, and they make life for opposing quarterbacks a living hell. Even star quarterback J.T. Barrett couldn’t block out the deafening noise during the White Out game. The fans made it nearly impossible for Ohio State’s offense to find a rhythm with 107,000 fans screaming at the top of their lungs. They caused numerous false start penalties, unwanted time outs, and helped the defense play with extra energy. James Franklin and numerous players acknowledged after the game the impact the fans had on their performance, and Franklin said he knew they couldn’t have done it without them. If that student section fills up for Michigan State, there is no doubt it will be hard for Sparty to execute, and Penn State will likely be looking at its tenth win.
The whole team deserves fans to show up and cheer them on, but perhaps no one deserves it more than the seniors and James Franklin, the team’s leaders. Franklin has faced so much criticism since arriving at Penn State and not much seemed to be going quite right until this season. He’s made critics like me swallow their words and there’s no way Penn State would be where it is right now without him at the helm. He deserves the support of the entire fan base. He’s earned it, point blank.
The seniors are usually the glue behind a team and this year’s batch is no different. Though there aren’t that many of them, they’ve all overcome unthinkable adversity and helped Penn State come back from its darkest times. Brian Gaia and Derek Dowrey have been through tough challenges personally. Both were recruited as defensive tackles but because the sanctions caused horrendous depth issues, they both switched to the offensive line at the start of the 2014 season. They’ve played there since, anchoring and leading this year’s group of young men. Brandon Bell and Evan Schwan are some of the best defensive players and leaders on this team and both dealt with injuries this year. Instead of struggling after their injuries, they came back with chips on their shoulders and helped the defense thrive since its poor start. All of the seniors kept the program afloat in the sanction era, and now they’re still leading the team. They deserve support.
Further, the fans deserve to watch this Penn State football team play at Beaver Stadium one last time.This season marked the reemergence of Penn State football, something folks have been waiting years for. Take advantage of the fact that you get a spot in the student section during a season like this.
So, if you’re still on the fence about tomorrow, come out to Beaver Stadium one last time. Do it for your team, your seniors, your coach, and yourself.