College Football

We Are Penn State! We Are… BACK!

It all began at Indiana.

Three seasons ago, in the midst of a 4-7 campaign – the second of two straight losing seasons – a gritty Penn State defense stepped onto the field holding loosely to a 22-18 lead during the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.

A lesser known Paul Posluszny set back in his linebacker position and the underappreciated, almost unnoticed defense gave everything they could against a Hoosiers program looking for its first defeat of a Penn State team.

First and goal from the Penn State one yard line: stuffed for a loss. Repeat times two. Now, on a fourth and goal all the Hoosiers had to do was cross the goal line and they would be assured of a victory over the lowly Nittany Lions.

It never happened.Fast forward now three seasons and the Nittany Lions find themselves with a respectable 5-2 (2-2) record. But at the current moment Lion Power is at a height many haven’t seen since 1994.

After an early season 14-9 loss on the road to Michigan, Joe Paterno’s ninth straight loss to the Wolverines, the legendary coach and his staff decided to finally open up an offense full of big time playmakers, while at the same time dumping the conventional power, power, power run Big Ten game.

The initial result? A 27-20 loss to Illinois the week after. Ever since that loss, however, Anthony Morelli has finally shown consistent progress with an offense designed to exploit his strengths and the Nittany Lions offense has cruised to two straight victories over Iowa and then #15 Wisconsin last weekend in State College.

Other factors have played into the Nittany Lions second resurgence of the season. Austin Scott, a highly touted running back out of high school, and a prime suspect every season in Joe Paterno’s doghouse, was suspended indefinitely on October 5 for his part in an alleged rape case.

This has allowed fifth year senior, Rodney Kinlaw to step in and show great progress in two short weeks as a starter. Another surprise has come from freshman Evan Royster, who just very well may be the future running back for the Nittany Lions.

With an established running game, Morelli has shined and is finally making use of what he calls `the best wide receiver core in the nation.’ Terrell Golden, also a fifth year senior, has been a favorite target of Morelli in 2007, leaving the door open for Deon Butler, Jordan Norwood and Derrick Williams to all have more open routes and less double coverage.

Tom Bradley’s defense, always a constant, has been superb almost all season long. The Lions rank sixth in total defense in the nation, according to, and fourth overall in total points allowed.

Future first round pick Justin King has held his ground at cornerback and Dan Conner is twenty-eight tackles away from becoming the all-time tackle leader at Linebacker U. Anthony Scirrotto has overcome some off field problems to once again be a threat in the backfield for the Nittany Lions.

The special teams play has also been a pleasant surprise in 2007. Jeremy Boone has filled in very nicely for the graduated Jeremy Kapinos, while Williams and Scirrotto remain threats to return any kick and/or punt. Kevin Kelley repeatedly kicks balls into the endzone on kickoffs, something he could never do ten yards closer for the past two seasons.

For all the off-field problems that Joe Paterno’s team has encountered over the past season, at the time being, it does not seem to have that much of an effect on the Lions. They are clicking on all cylinders and playing some of their best overall football of the season.

On Saturday, three years after the game saving, program turning goal line stop, the Nittany Lions return to Indiana for the first time. With so much left to prove during a season of craziness, the Nittany Lions cannot be caught sleeping.

The Hoosiers program has also recovered nicely since the goal line stand that left them with an ugly loss instead of a much needed win. With big-time playmaker James Hardy, and Kellen Lewis playing very well at quarterback, Indiana will be sure to make a strong push to send the Nittany Lions back to Happy Valley with three losses.

If Penn State plays well and defeats the Hoosiers, they will be headed home at 6-2 (3-2), likely ranked, playing host to the #1 team in the country: rival Ohio State.

Things for the most part have been very happy in Happy Valley over the past few seasons. A win Saturday at Indiana will assure a big-time nationally televised game on October 27. A win Saturday will give Penn State a serious chance at a run back to a BCS game in 2007.

A win Saturday and the program can look back a smile about a win that seemed so meaningless three seasons ago, and look forward to what will surely be a fun weekend in Pennsylvania.

For more on Penn State football please visit

Copyright ©2007 Colin Cerniglia. All Rights Reserved.

10 replies on “We Are Penn State! We Are… BACK!”

Austin Scott – you must qualify this…. Major point: Austin Scott is not guilty…yet. So when you say “kicked off for his part in a rape case”, you might want to qualify it with the word “alleged” – otherwise you’re simply condemning him for something he hasn’t yet done.

Also: does beating an overrated Wisconsin side truly mean that Penn State is “back”? Morelli was terrible until the Wisconsin game, and the defensive line were hardly wonderful. Well, that was my perspective in the student section on Saturday, anyway….

But this article’s about Penn State, so I’m voting for it.

good call with the part about austin scott, i fixed that, thanks. the article  isn’t stating because they beat wiscy that they are back, its stating that since the goal line stand there has been a longevity of success, therefore, we have proven to the nation we can contend again year after year. morelli wasn’t terrible, granted he wasn’t anything great, before the wisconsin game. he has limited the picks, except for the illini game, and i think that is his biggest improvement: showing he knows how to read a defense.

are you getting to the game next weekend? should be a fun one.  

We are…. As I’m based in the UK, probably not.

Oh, and add me to your facebook friends.



respect “With big-time playmaker James Hardy, and Kellen Lewis playing very well at quarterback, Indiana will be sure to make a strong push to send the Nittany Lions back to Happy Valley with three losses.”

Thank you for recognizing. Should be a fun game.

Big Ten Not Worthy Barring a major slip-up of their own, Ohio State is going to finish this year undefeated, but anyone who believes the Big Ten is as good as the SEC or even the Big 12 is näive.  This brings to question the validity of Ohio State being a championship contender and would lead any careful analyst to believe they are getting set up for another shellacking like Florida gave ’em last year.

I’m a Big Ten man.  Some of you know I’m a Michigan (Yeah, Appalachian State, I know) Wolverine fan.  I’m also a realist.  We’re not just beating up on each other.  Any winning record we have out of conference is misleading if you don’t take into consideration who we’re playing.

We can try to make a big deal out of the successes our teams might have, but at the end of the day, we are not really that good right now.  

i personally think the pac-10 is just as good as the SEC. i don’t think the big 12 provides anything very impressive, just like the big 10. that’s my thoughts on 2007.

big 12 As the site’s #1 Big 12 hater, I must state the Big 12, and especially the North Division, is much improved. But having watched Texas A&M-Texas Tech (or some matchup like that) and Florida-LSU on side-by-side televisions at the same time, the speed difference between the teams is astonishing. It’s like watching frame-by-frame. The SEC players are just so much faster than those from the Big 12.

"or even the Big 12" If you read my comment carefully, I do not say the Big 12 is as good as the SEC, but that the Big Ten is not even as good as the Big 12.

The SEC is clearly a step ahead of the rest with the Big East possibly second right now, although I question their ability to sustain this level of play throughout the conference for a long time, say, a decade.  After that come the Pac Ten, the Big 12 and the ACC (not necessarily in that order).  The Big Ten is a weakened conference and certainly follows those named above in total quality.  However, I am hopeful they will rebound within about two years.

Penn State + Officials 26 – Purdue 19 Penn State probably still wins, but the officiating was definitely working in favour of PSU.  I still don’t understand why no one gave Purdue their time out back after that botched call on the Boilermaker catch where the clock was left running.  That was a major mistake that could have been rectified by giving the time-out back and adding a few ticks back on the clock.  It was just weird.

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