Smith’s Slant: Heading Straight into the Storm

Story posted October 27, 2012 in Sports, CommRadio by Dan Smith

Who would have thought we would be here?

It's a midseason game between Penn State and Ohio State. Both are undefeated and look like the best teams in the Big Ten. The game is in primetime. Penn State is looking to earn a top 25 ranking with a win. It's a White Out at Beaver Stadium. In any other season, saying that this game matters would be stating the obvious.

But with everything that has happened, it's sort of amazing to say that it feels like a normal football season.  It feels strange to say it doesn't feel different. I am looking forward to this game. Why shouldn't I?

So much has been written, talked, argued, debated and even felt about this upcoming game. You could feel it weeks ago when Penn State knocked off 24th-ranked Northwestern. It only got stronger with every minute of domination in the Iowa game. This was going to matter.

The idea of this being a big game was almost absurd even a month ago. Starting 0-2, with Ohio State hurtling towards the top ten, it seemed like a pipe dream that this game would count for anything.

And yet, here we are.

Some of the developments would have been surprising in any season: Matt McGloin's ascension to being the Big Ten's top passer, the emergence of Allen Robinson and Kyle Carter so quickly, Bill O'Brien figuring out head coaching in such a short amount of time. But in a normal year, Penn State and Ohio State mattering would not be surprising. Yet it feels like it is a surprise.

It feels good to watch football that matters, to watch football without feeling guilty or feeling like the villain. It feels good to know that we were not lying to the players of Penn State's football team when we told them they would become legends for their loyalty. And it feels good to prove that understanding the mistakes of the past and enjoying a football season are not mutually exclusive events.

It was hard to keep some things in context after the scandal and the sanctions. With four years of no bowls and huge scholarship reductions, it was hard to avoid seeing Penn State's future as being similar to Southern Methodist's. Thankfully, for everyone, that will not be the case.

The best thing about Penn State being competitive? It's no longer Penn State against the NCAA. These wins matter because fans want to see these kids get the wins they deserve. It's Penn State against the opponent they are playing that week instead of Penn State against Mark Emmert.

We want Penn State competing on the field against other football teams, not competing on blogs and comment and Twitter feeds against the NCAA decision. While there is still outrage (some justified, some ridiculous), it's so much more rewarding to be able to talk about the players.

No matter what happens tomorrow, this week will have been memorable. It was unclear in July whether or not there would be another week like this for a while. We have one more year, and that is good.

It's a White Out. It's Penn State-Ohio State. For the time being, that still means a whole lot.

Dan Smith is a senior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and is ComRadio's Executive Editor. To contact him, email des5249@psu.edu.