On a day that looked like the weather would once again factor in to the performance of the Nittany Lions’ offense, Penn State came out with one of their best showings of the season and won their second Big Ten Title in four seasons.
Daryll Clark found his swagger again with a five touchdown performance and just about every senior came through with the big plays to send PSU to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1995. As they have done their entire careers Derrick Williams, Jordan Norwood and Deon Butler were outstanding and seeing them for the final time in Beaver Stadium hits every fan in the pit of their stomachs.
The defense set the tone from the very beginning as Javon Ringer rushed for a measley 42 yards against a line which was a daunting question mark heading into the season. Once again it was the seniors who came through with the big plays as both Anthony Scirrotto and Lydell Sargaent had interceptions of Brian Hoyer to keep the Spartans at bay.
After this season’s defensive showing, anything less than naming Tom Bradley the next head coach at Penn State when JoePa is done would be a tremendous mistake by the athletic department. Bradley has proven his ability as a coach and recruiter throughout the years with this season being one of his finest achievements. Even as frustrating as it can be to deal with the ‘bend but not break’ defense, Bradley and the other defensive coaches (Johnson, Vanderlinden, Buggs) have kept this team in top 20 of every defensive category for the past decade. Scrap deserves to be our next head coach.
Though we all had higher expectations for this season just a few weeks ago, a trip to the Rose Bowl and a 40th win in four seasons for this class of 2008 is nothing to frown on. We wondered after ’05 whether this team was truly back or had just taken a trip to relevancy before dipping back into mediocrity. This season solidifies the Nittany Lions as regular contenders on both the Big Ten and national stages, something we longed for during the dark days ’03 and ’04.
Now we wait and hope that either Oregon State loses to one of their final two opponents so the Lions can get a real challenge or that a slew of long shot upsets occur putting State back into the title game. Either way the Nittany Lions are Big Ten champions and poised to continue their success in the years to come.