Ohio State just passed its first serious test of the season. Ohio State, now 10 -0, just beat Penn State at “The Shoe” and convinced the college football world that they are one of the best teams in the country. Penn State tried everything – forcing fumbles, throwing in a backup quarterback, and then unleashing a surprisingly staunch defense in the Third Quarter – but it wasn’t enough as nothing could stop the Buckeyes.
Penn State found themselves down 14 -0 at the half and then 21-0 in the Third Quarter but closed to 21 -14. Testy Penn State tested the Ohio State, but in the end, it was Ohio State’s phenom QB Justin Fields who kept making NFL-caliber plays with his arm and legs that won the day.
Now, the Buckeyes have to beat their real arch rival, Michigan, next week in Ann Arbor to win the Big Ten Title and stay in the hunt for the college football championship.
Someone once said, that when the goin’ gets tough, the tough get goin’, and Ohio State’s star power on offense and defense got a goin’ today. Chase Young, Ohio State’s standout defensive end and Heisman hopeful played with a chip on his shoulder after serving a two game suspension for a NCAA rules violation. And Running back J.K. Dobbins ran all over the Nittany Lions. Dobbins ran the ball 36 times for 157 yards and Justin Fields ran for another 68 yards, and Penn State could not fully answer the Buckeyes.
The moral of the story is this: pass the test. Dig in and hold out and buckle up and hunker down. You can pass the test. You can. Determine to overcome your mistakes and missteps and play like there’s no tomorrow
Minnesota Head Coach P.J. Fleck is a giant killer. Minnesota defeated Penn State, 31 -26 in a Big Ten, November thriller they weren’t supposed to win. And his post-game, locker room speech to his players was a Sermon on the Mount type of message that will preach for years to come.
Coach Fleck’s speech is why I am an instant Minnesota Gopher fan. I don’t know much about him but I do know that if I played college football, I’d want to play for someone like him, if not play for HIM. We all need motivation and affirmation and maturation. And this coach and this team provided all of that and some for all of us who believe that things will, and must and just have to get better.
Here’s some of what Coach Fleck said after the big win:
This is what we can become. I’m sure there was (sic) some people on the final drive who said, ‘Oh, here we go again.’ Gotta let go of all of that. Fifty years ago, 40 years ago, 30 years ago, 20 years ago, 10 years ago, we’ve got to change at some point. This team’s proven that. Does that mean we’re going to win ’em all? No. But they’re doing a lot of special things that you can keep building on to make your culture stronger, and your program stronger, and make it more of a national brand.”
Note to file:as Coach Fleck taught us, “We’ve got to change at some point.” And if we change, things will change. That’s how it works. It might be bad and you might be sad, but things have got to change at some point. They’ve got to. Trouble don’t last always. Success is failure turned inside out. Weeping may endure for a night, but God promised us that joy will come in the morning. Amen and amen.
The third-year head coach did not mince words about what the victory meant for his Gophers team.
“This team’s been through so much — on the field, off the field — through the last three years,” he said. “This team has heart. It has courage. It has character. It’s got an unbelievable culture. They found a way. The whole season’s been highs, lows, but we found a way to win and that was the biggest thing. We’ve been telling people, it’s like — we just find a way to win. They love each other. It’s a special group of young men.”
The 31-26 victory over No. 4 Penn State marked No. 17 Minnesota’s first at home victory against a top-five opponent since 1977, when the Gophers knocked off top-ranked Michigan three years before Fleck was born. Minnesota is 9-0 for the first time since 1904, and 6-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 1961. The Gophers validated a start that many questioned and showed they belong in the College Football Playoff conversation.
“We’ve done a lot of things we haven’t done in a while,” senior defensive end Carter Coughlin said.Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck had envisioned a scene like the one that took place Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium, as Minnesota students and fans filled the field to celebrate another set of milestones
The win set off a raucous celebration from the sellout crowd. Minnesota players ran to the Penn State sideline to collect the Governor’s Victory Bell trophy, which the Nittany Lions had held since 2016. Students streamed onto the field as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” played. Wide receiver Rashod Bateman, who set a stadium record with 203 receiving yards — the second-highest total in team history — couldn’t remember a thing afterward, saying only, “A bunch of people. That’s it.”
When Fleck entered the locker room, he jumped into his players’ arms and crowd surfed — a tradition he started while coaching Western Michigan, which went 13-1 with a Cotton Bowl appearance in 2016. He then awarded the game ball to the entire state, giving the ball to university president Joan Gabel, with hope that it eventually reaches Gov. Tim Walz.
“That’s why you take a job,” Fleck said. “That was the whole vision, to be able to have that field swarmed on a top-five team in the country, and to put us undefeated. And when everybody told me, ‘Don’t take the job, don’t take the job.’ My life is usually about, ‘Don’t do that, don’t do that. OK, I’ll do that. That sounds like a good job for me.’
“That was the vision.”
Fleck, 38, began the week by agreeing to a new seven-year, $33.25 million contract with Minnesota. He had been mentioned as a candidate for the coaching vacancy at Florida State, and likely would have been a candidate for other openings in the coming weeks.
But Fleck now appears committed to Minnesota, where he’s 21-13 in three seasons. Fleck’s record through his first 34 games with the Golden Gophers mirrors that of Murray Warmath (20-12-2), who led Minnesota to its most recent national championship in 1960.
“To see in the locker room the former players brought a tear to my eye,” Fleck said. “We’ve had seven head coaches in around 14 years. It’s hard to gain traction with former players. Everybody’s connected to someone else, and we feel like, ‘I played for that guy.’ You played for our Minnesota. That’s who you played for, and I just get to represent that.
“Part of the reason why we signed the contract was we want to bring everybody back. We want everybody to be like tonight every single game. We can create some type of dynasty, you can create some type of cultural sustainability, because your alums are the most important part of what we do.”
Coughlin didn’t know if fans would rush the field. He sought out fellow senior Kamal Martin, a starting linebacker who couldn’t play because of injury, and his roommates.
“It was just amazing to see the excitement on everybody’s face, how together Minnesota is right now,” said Coughlin, a native of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, who was already in the program when Fleck arrived in 2017. “It’s really special.”
The Gophers have never appeared in the Big Ten championship game and most recently won the conference in 1967.
Penn State led by 18 points TWICE and still lost. They took advantage of early Ohio State mistakes and miscues and built leads that were seemingly insurmountable. But Penn State forgot one thing; Ohio State was playing at the Horseshoe, defending their home turf in front of 109,302 raucous, rabid fans. And Ohio State remembered one thing; they remembered that you can still win after dropped passes and missed tackles and stupid penalties and untimely turnovers. You can still win. You can come back from way back despite the darkness of your dilemma or the depth of your despair.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer surely couldn’t believe his eyes as his special teams play was less than special, giving up a touchdown on the opening kickoff. But Urban was equally incredulous after the game, becasue even after all of his team’s mistakes, they still won. So he is pointing right at you because you can still win, too. Coach Meyer knows this becasue he himself overcame heartache and almost heartbreak as he somehow, someway, coached his boys to a marvelous and miraculous come from behind win.
And you can still lose even with a big lead and a comfortable cushion. Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley just learned that the hard way. In spite of how wonderful you think you are and how marvelous things seem to be at present, everything can unravel, quickly. Everything can come crashing down and it can all smash to pieces and all can fall apart in the blink of an eye. You can lose it all because you thought you won with time still left on the clock. So don’t get complacent or conceited even when everything is seemingly going your way. You can still surrender the lead and give away the game. Just ask Penn State.
So hats off to J.T. Barrett and the Ohio State Buckeyes. The fifth-year senior, some six weeks removed from his fan base questioning whether he belonged in the starting lineup, threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns, leading his team in an epic comeback that will long be remembered at the Horseshoe. Barrett seized momentum and snatched a win right out of Penn States arms as they outscored Penn State 19-3 when it mattered most. J.T. Barrett completed his last 16 passes and was a perfect 13 for 13 in the fourth quarter as he led his team to victory down the stretch over the No. 2 team in the Country with the No. 1 offense in the nation.
J.T. Barret looked like new money as he pulled a rabbit out of the hat and escaped out of a straitjacket and handcuffs better than Harry Houdini as he won a gritty, gutsy, game that no one gave him credit for being able to win. Vegas began to bet against Barrett because they said he couldn’t win the big one. But win the big one he did, and in dramatic fashion.
So remember, you can still win, despite your faults and your failures and your disappointments and even your disasters. You CAN still win. You can come all the way back, even from the dead. The power of His resurrection is alive and well, in sports and in life. It’s called grace. And it comes from God. And you can still find it, even after you lose it.
Jake Elliott is now a hero in Philly. He got carried off the playing field after a thrilling, comeback win in the Eagle’s home opener. But first, let’s talk about Penn State’s equally stunning win.
Penn State pulled off one of the most improbable, implausible wins of the season and maybe of Coach James Geoffrey Franklin’s career. His young guns came through in the clutch as the No. 4 Nittany Lions survived their trip to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley found Juwan Johnson for a seven-yard touchdown as time expired — beating Iowa 21-19 on Saturday night.
It was a final drive to remember. Penn State had just 90 seconds to go 80 yards to overcome the 19-15 deficit. It got to the 7-yard line thanks to seven McSorley completions and a 12-yard McSorley run. With four seconds left, on fourth-and-goal, McSorley audibled and found Johnson over the middle to complete the last-second comeback.
And to top off the weekend, my Eagles beat the New York Football Giants in epic fashion. Philly’s rookie kicker hit a record-setting, 61-yard field goal as time expired. Elliot’s longest previous kick had been 55 yards. Elliot, who just joined the team two weeks ago, set up for the kick with one second on the game clock. The snap and the hold were all good, and as all of Philly watched with bated breath, the ball just barely nicked the right upright and sailed over the crossbar with no time left on the clock.
Both Penn State and the Eagles had the game in hand but seemingly let their victories slip away as Iowa State and the Giants both grabbed leads late in the game. But both victorious Pennsylvania teams had enough gumption and gusto to march down the field and win their games in walk off style.
The term “survival of the fittest” is a Darwinian term referring to “those traits best suited to perpetuate the species that endure to be passed along indefinitely from generation to generation. Conversely, those traits most detrimental to the good of the species will be phased out after a few generations.” While we do not subscribe to evolution, we can borrow, repurpose and re-apply this term to sports teams and players appropriately.
In sports, fitness means you have work out your kinks and worked on your game and have survived the tests and the trials and the sufferings and the pains that come part and parcel with every day of practice and every game of the week and every season of your career. And the same goes for life. Your survive the tests and trials of life and emerge intact; you may be batteredand you may bebruised, but in the end your spirit is unbroken and you’re no worse for the wear.
So, even if you’re not a fan of the Nittany Lions or of the Philadelphia Eagle’s, you have to love how these two teams emerged and evolved through their games and survived. It’s a lesson for us all.
Always remember, it aint over till it’s over. Even with 0.4 seconds or 0.1 second on the clock, you too can survive.
Brailyn is a fine young man. He “picked” Penn State over Maryland, Temple, Virginia Tech, and Syracuse on Signing Day. He attends church in Manassas, Virginia where his pastor, Bishop Wesley Cherry, Sr. preaches and teaches and lives and breathes faith. And watching him from a distance, it is clear that Brailyn is a product of his family’s and his church’s faith. His proud parents are humbled by the prospect that their son was recruited by a Big 10 Power school, and are moved even more by how Heaven is elevating Brailyn.
Sometimes faith is mixed with “pinch me, I must be dreaming” amazement at how God has ordered and orchestrated the pieces of our lives to come and fit together perfectly. Brailyn’s athletic and emotional development is impressive. Add to it his maturation and progression and you get the excitement of Signing Day that is only surpassed by his unlimited potential.
Brailyn Franklin did everything for Battlefield (Va.) High School: rush the passer at defensive tackle, return kicks, run the wildcat, force fumbles, split out wide and built a stadium. Alright, he didn’t build a stadium. But he did build a solid relationship with Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry, and that was key in leading Franklin north to Happy Valley.
Here’s what the website FANSIDED said about Brailyn signing with Penn State:
Thin at linebacker, the Nittany Lions got an important piece of the puzzle on National Signing Day when linebacker Brailyn Franklin officially signed with Penn State. Franklin committed to the Nittany Lions back in August and followed through with that promise on National Signing Day.
Listed by many recruiting services as an athlete, Franklin will start at Penn State as a linebacker. He mainly played on the defensive line in high school in Virginia, but at 200 pounds, he’s better suited to be a linebacker in college. He’s a raw talent who would benefit greatly from an extra year to both develop his skills and build some size. He could also move to the defensive backfield if needed.
Franklin intends to major in sports psychology, a mission he’ll begin as soon as his Haymarket, Va., Battlefield High team finishes its 2016 season. “What I’m hoping to accomplish on the field this season is to actually get to the championship, and making sure that I finish out the season healthy so I can prepare for college,” Franklin said.
Congratulations Brailyn and welcome to Penn State!
Seriously? How could you? It was one of the best bowl games EVER! Penn State started slowly, and it looked like USC was going to run away with it. But then, in the third quarter, Penn State scored what seemed like a gazillion touchdowns in a row, and just like that, USC was on the ropes and in danger of losing a virtual home game to that team from back east. But THEN, USC came roaring back and scored 17 points in the blink of an eye; and, voila, the Trojans won an instant classic 52-49.
The Rose Bowl is considered to be the “Granddaddy of ‘Em All,” at least when it comes to college bowl games. And if you didn’t see last night’s 103rd Rose Bowl, then you might as well consider yourself dismissed from the ranks of real, bona-fide, sports fans. Take it from me, and I don’t even like or support all of these dang gum bowl games to start with.
Seriously, I know why you missed the Rose Bowl: there’re too many of ‘em. It’s ridiculous. You were suffering from “over-conjunctive-bowl-itis.” It’s an actual disease. I mean, how can even the most ardent of sports fans keep up and watch most of them, because there is no way, any one person could watch ALL of them? Right? Do you know how many bowl games there are? Way more than we need. Way more. And I’m not the only juror to reach this conclusion; the verdict is unanimous.
Here’s how one sports writer summed up the current college bowl crisis back in 2014:
“For all of the good reasons one might propose for trimming the annual bowl game slate, the most common complaint seems to center around the exhaustion of being forced to endure all 38 (39, if you count the title game) bowl games we’ve had over the past month.”
Editor’s Note: in 2016 there were 46 Bowl games, including the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl and the Dollar General Bowl. But you knew that, as I’m sure you caught those games.
“The second-most common complaint — and one that actually has legs — is that bowl games have been expanded to the point that they have been stripped of all meaning.
Thirty years ago, there were 16 bowl games. Thirty-two of Division-I’s 112 teams made a bowl game, and the rest stayed home. There were a lot of teams with winning records that didn’t get to sniff the postseason. This year, 15 bowl-bound teams have managed just six wins. Thanks to its conference championship loss, Fresno State could end the season 6-8 by losing to Rice in the Hawaii Bowl.
And don’t sleep on the Camellia Bowl, which pits Bowling Green vs. South Alabama. That very sentence alone is enough to make a traditionalist go blind. At the same time, the effects of bowl-mania are relatively benign — at least as far as game itself is concerned. Yes, reaching a bowl game may carry less significance than it once did.”
Editor’s Note: Wrong! Reaching a bowl game absolutely carries less significance than it once did. But surely I digress.
“But who ever said all bowls carry the same merit? Reaching the Rose Bowl still means the same thing it did 30 years ago. If its value has been diluted, it’s only because the new four-team playoff bracket is the primary attention-getter over the traditional big-name bowls.
Football programs don’t exactly line the stadium hallways with elaborate displays of TaxSlayer.com Bowl trophies. Nobody’s jealous of making the Camelia Bowl — other than the 50 teams who aren’t making a bowl appearance, and even some of them would probably turn an offer down.
Thirty-nine bowl games exist because all of them generate revenue.
That’s not the most inspiring genesis for holding a good ol’ football game, granted. But it would be inconsistent to decide now, after years of allowing money-minded college athletic departments to fatten their revenues on the backs of athletes who haven’t received one dime of extra compensation, that suddenly we are taking a stand and telling prospective bowl hosts to go shove it.
Bowl games make money, period, even if they’re terrible at passing on the benefits to participating schools — a criticism best saved for a different day.
The important point is that schools continue to accept bowl invites because of the benefits they do see: the national TV exposure (a huge boon for smaller programs), the slight recruiting edge, and the excitement a bowl berth can stir in a fan base.” By: Jonathan Crowl 12/9/2014