There is a tradition in my home each football season. On our fireplace mantel in our family room, the mascots of all the teams that Penn State plays are lined up in the order that we play them.
the beginning of a season, the mascots are all standing or sitting.
But as we play each game, the only mascots that remain standing are the
teams that win. The rest of the mascots are turned face up and on their
So here, at the halfway point in Penn State's
season, is how the mascots appear on our mantel. I will update this
every once in a while throughout the season, and this will appear as one of the pages in the header.
Ohio Bobcat and the Virginia Cavalier remain standing. Penn State lost
to Ohio 14-24 and to Virginia 16-17 due to a heart-breaking missed
field goal at the end of the game.
battle against an undefeated and very good Northwestern team will
become a legendary come-from-behind win in Penn State football history.
The team scored 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat
Northwestern 39-28. So now the Northwestern Wildcat is on his back!
13 will be a bye week, giving the Nittany Lions two weeks to
prepare for a trip to Iowa City to play the Iowa Hawkeyes on October
20. Then, there will be the classic 6 p.m. White-Out game October 27 at
home against division rivals Ohio State Buckeyes under the direction of
its new head coach Urban Meyer. Judging from last night's very solid
drubbing of Nebraska, Ohio State will be Penn State's toughest test.
of Penn State's fate this year (and possibly in future years) will rest
on how well Penn State plays against these two teams.
Penn State goes on the road, twice in a row. To play the Purdue
Boilermakers on November 3 and then the Nebraska Cornhuskers on November
Penn State plays the Indiana Hoosiers at home on November 17. The
Hoosier is another mascot that I couldn't find at Indiana, so I settled
for "Big Red", the dog. And the Wisconsin Badgers will roll into Beaver
Stadium for the final game of this year on November 24.
predictions? Penn State is becoming a very good offensive and
defensive football team, and we see improvements each week. It was very
significant that Penn State was able to muster a come-from-behind win
against Northwestern. The mark of a good football team is that they can
face adversity and find a way to win.
But Penn State
has to show marked improvements in its special teams over the next two
weeks. They can't expect to get 5-6 in fourth down conversions every
game and they can't expect to win in tight games without a solid kicking
game. We simply can't afford the costly special teams mistakes made on
Saturday that gave up two cheap touchdowns to Northwestern: a muffed
punt, and then the longest punt of the season by Alex Butterworth that
out-punted the special teams coverage.
On a positive
note, kicker Sam Ficken didn't make a mistake on Saturday. He made all
the extra points and kicked one field goal. Alex Butterworth also made
some good plays, including pinning Northwestern on the one-yard line on
one of his punts.
If Coach O'Brien can figure out how to solve the special teams issues, then Penn State has a chance to have a very good season.