What a Win for Penn State Would Mean
Penn State is currently a ten point underdog against Alabama this week, a good indication of the question marks that still surround the program. But if Penn State were to pull off the upset, what kind of impact would it have on the team this year, the program overall, Joe Paterno, and the Big Ten as a whole?
Regardless of the final score, a Penn State win against Alabama brings with it a significant jump in the rankings. Currently ranked 23rd in the AP Poll and 20th in the Coaches Poll, the Nittany Lions could jump ten spots in one week with a win over the Crimson Tide. And the national attention from the victory would reflect favorably on their rankings for the rest of the season.
More importantly, Penn State would go from borderline Big Ten title contender to legitimate national title contender overnight. A win would position the team very well for the rest of the season and would help later in the year if Penn State found themselves looking for an at-large BCS bowl bid.
There are expected to be around 50 recruits in attendance for Saturday’s game. If those recruits witness a win over a national powerhouse in front of an awe-inspiring White Out, it will be a huge boost to the program’s recruiting status. And for those not in attendance, the national conversation will quickly turn towards Penn State, potentially enticing some recruits to reconsider the Nittany Lions.
In addition to the impact on recruiting, the win could also help attract a new head coach in the near future. The overall prestige of the program would rise and thus attract recruits and coaches to Happy Valley. Penn State could ride the wave of momentum into a period of spectacular recruiting which would likely lead to outstanding football teams and more exceptional wins.
There is no doubt that Joe Paterno is one of the greatest football coaches of all time, but he has stumbled at times in the last decade. A win over Alabama would help boost Joe Paterno’s legacy in his later years of coaching and cement his legacy once again. Paterno himself probably does not care how he is viewed, but the Penn State faithful would love to see Paterno finish his career in triumphant fashion and a win over Alabama would certainly provide the perfect cherry to cap his brilliant career.
The Big Ten Conference as a whole would greatly benefit from a Penn State victory as well. Alabama is considered the cream of the crop in the SEC, widely considered the best conference in the country. The Big Ten teams need to beat teams like Alabama, LSU, Florida, and Auburn to gain national respect. With the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten, the conference has an opportunity to gain national respect with wins against quality opponents.
Alabama has a great team in a tremendous conference; they have certainly earned their ranking at third in the country. While they have had their share of down years, they have clearly rebounded under Saban and are once again a top tier program. Penn State can return to the top tier with a win against a team like Alabama; why not start this week?
John Bridgens is a sophomore whose major is undecided. To contact him, email jfb@firstname.lastname@example.org.
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