The Victory Over Michigan State: Best Game Of The Season
Penn State’s win over Michigan State felt like the culmination of a truly incredible season in Happy Valley. This year’s White Out shocker vs. Ohio State was perhaps the most exciting thing I will ever witness in person, but the win over the Spartans felt like a long-awaited celebration. In my opinion, the win over Michigan State was even more fulfilling than the Nittany Lions’ big upset of Ohio State.
Beaver Stadium’s Thanksgiving weekend crowd felt like one (very) large family. It was Thanksgiving Round Two, if you will – just with chicken baskets instead of turkey.
One of the most memorable moments of the season came very early in the game when Ohio State topped Michigan in double-overtime, and the crowd reacted accordingly. Ohio State’s win paved the way for Penn State to capture the B1G East title. If James Franklin and his coaching staff were trying to block out the result of The Game, the crowd certainly made that impossible. The Penn State faithful was electric from this point on – every fan sensed the opportunity to put the cherry on top of a great regular season.
The win over the Spartans, who were 3-8 heading into the game, was not of the same pedigree as the win over No. 2 Ohio State — I know. With everything that rode on this game, however, James Franklin proved he could keep his team focused in the midst of distractions and steamroll Sparty in the process.
So maybe 107,000 fans didn’t make it to Happy Valley for the Land Grant matchup like they did for the White Out, but the turnout was still impressive given the game’s proximity to Thanksgiving. Students came back early from Thanksgiving break to support the No. 7 Nittany Lions, filling up the student section early and staying for the last Alma Mater of the season. Following the game, all eyes were on the field as Penn State was presented with the B1G East Championship trophy.
The significance of coming out on top of the B1G East just a few years removed from the darkest years in Penn State football history cannot be understated. Over the past four seasons, Penn State fans have stuck with their team through more than most fans could. It was also fitting that the Senior Day festivities honored some of the last players to be recruited by Joe Paterno and his staff. These players stayed fully committed to Penn State through the most difficult and volatile circumstances that a collegiate football program has ever seen, and it feels great to say that their dedication has repaid them well.
The White Out win over Ohio State was unforgettable, but on Saturday, the Nittany Lions broke away from all that had been weighing on them for years. Simply put, an incredibly exciting team played an impressive game, finishing off an impressive season. During that game, I couldn’t help but to think that Penn State football is back. It is back with a new identity, an electrifying team, and plenty of reasons to be eager to see where James Franklin will take it.