“Why do I do this to myself?”: The Penn State Football Story

I’m back to make a statement…

I’ve been fooled again.

On Saturday, my 4th-ranked Nittany Lions marched into Minneapolis to take on the 17th-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers. We’d been riding high. It was our first appearance in the Top 4 of the CFP rankings. Sean Clifford was looking like a snack under center. KJ Hamler was getting recognition as one of the most dynamic football players in the country. Our defense looked UNBELIEVABLE. It was about to come down to a clash of undefeated teams in Columbus to decide the fate of the Big Ten East. It was almost too good to be true…

That’s because it was.

While I WOULD argue that there were multiple plays on our final drive that resulted in BULLS**T pass interference calls, it doesn’t take away from the following:

  1. Our secondary was just not good enough, especially when it counted. Giving up over 300 receiving yards between just two receivers (albeit to a legit QB and an EXTREMELY good receiving corps) is an awful look for a team trying to get into the playoff.
  2. Minnesota is actually legit, and we didn’t take them seriously enough, despite being undefeated. Not necessarily sure they would give Ohio State a run for their money, but they might make it a game at least.
  3. Box scores often mean nothing. Having a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard rusher, and TWO 100-yard receivers should give you a win. Not in this case, though.

With all that said, I’ve come to a singular conclusion…

I’ve been tricked.

I’ve been bamboozled.

I’ve been hoodwinked.

… it’s not the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last.

I should document the heartache this f*****g program has caused me over the years. Because if anyone knows how to get Smalls’ hopes up YEAR AFTER YEAR, it’s these lovable losers.

2005: Penn State 25 – 27 Michigan

Let me paint a picture for you. The year is 2005. The Lions are coming off of a 4-7 season. A certain legendary head coach (who shall remain nameless, for obvious reasons) is hearing rumblings that the school wants to usher him out. The team perseveres though, and beats 6th-ranked Ohio State at home in the first ever White-Out game. They mow through their Big Ten competition and make it to 6-0, returning to national prominence. Quarterback Michael Robinson, who would later go on to be a Pro Bowl fullback, is making defenses fold in front of his eyes during his Heisman push. The squad then makes the trip up to Ann Arbor to take on Chad Henne, Mario Manningham, and the 3-3 Wolverines. In the bag, right? Too much momentum, you say?

Lloyd Carr ripped out my 9-year old heart and stomped on it.

We finished the year No. 3 in the polls with a record of 11-1. Would we have gotten a bid to face also undefeated Texas or USC in the national championship had we beaten the Wolverines? Maybe not, but I guess now we’ll never know. It was the first REAL sports heartbreak I’d ever experienced.

2008: Penn State 23 – 24 Iowa

Darryl Clark was absolutely ripping it up at QB. Derrick Williams, Jordan Norwood, and Deon Butler were seniors and were looking incredible. Evan Royster was steadily becoming the school’s all-time leading rusher. We went into Columbus and beat the 10th-ranked Buckeyes with the so-called “God” Terrelle Pryor under center (the fumble might actually be my favorite PSU football memory). It was all shaping up for us to make a run at the national title. We were sitting high as the No. 3 team in the country when the Lions made the trip to Iowa City to take on the 5-4 Hawkeyes. It was a given, Clark and the boys couldn’t be stopped.

I hate kickers so much.

I felt sick for days after that. We ended up finishing 11-2 with a Rose Bowl loss to USC. I wasn’t mad. I was disappointed.

2017: Penn State 38 – 39 Ohio State

It may be recency bias, but this one hurt the most.

Saquon Barkley was the best running back in the country making absolutely BONKERS highlights. Trace McSorley had ice in his veins. James Franklin was about to follow up on his complete turnaround of the program from the season before. We were ranked No. 2. I’d go more in-depth, but it still hurts my soul to think about it. We all know what happens next…

I still shed a tear every now and then.

What’s the point of me sharing my nightmares with you? I want our Benchers to gain a little perspective. I want people to understand the pain that the loss to Minnesota has caused me. It’s not that this season was a tease. It’s that I’ve been getting teased my entire adult life. “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride” or however the f**k that goes. I’m an addict that refuses to go to rehab. I’m that girl that keeps going back to the guy who cheats on her. I just can’t quit watching this team do it to me year after year, no matter how much it hurts.

Are we absolutely out of the Playoff picture? I guess not. What are the chances of us beating the Buckeyes IN Columbus? Probably slim to none. My only hope is that the “nothing to lose” mentality comes out that game.

Even though I know I’m going to get hurt, I’ll still be watching on November 23rd. Getting hurt is all I know.

Being a fan is so f*****g dumb, sometimes.


  1. Hi Smalls-

    As a Penn State fan myself, I feel your pain. I think a lot of people blamed the loss last Saturday on misguided PIs and while they didn’t help, I agree with you that they were not the sole reason for the loss.

    I’ve been following your posts for a while now and I would love to watch a PSU game with you… so what are you doing Saturday??


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