It's Sunday morning, and I'm well rested after getting home from yesterday's game in almost record time. As I may have alluded to before, I'm a Michigan man in Pennsylvania, and live only about two hours from, well, yesterday.
Yesterday was very strange, in that it was almost like two separate experiences, one a polar opposite of the other. It was like my Saturday was split into two hemispheres of good and evil.
I awoke at was on the road yesterday morning by 9 am, taking in the unmatched beauty of the Pennsylvania countryside in mid-October. I've seen Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and even New York's foliage, but I truly think nothing compares to the fall leaves of the Keystone state, and this week is pretty much prime.
So I get to State College well before noon and it was fantastic. Meeting with friends, all PSU diehards, we first hit the downtown scene before heading out to the tailgate. The air was cold but the sun was bright and warm on your face, and even the UM gear I was wearing didn't seem to ruffle many feathers. And for those that did, a quick 'good luck' was all I gave them back, except for one really rude frat boy who I then got to admit he was 11 years old the last time PSU won against us. That was fun.
So the afternoon's just a great, GREAT gameday experience, and yet I'm still a little frantic because I still don't have a ticket. So we make our way closer to Beaver Stadium and I start waving a finger-- several 'entrepeneurs' find me quickly, and upon eyeing the UM hoody, offer me prices to the tune of $150, $180, etc. Nice. So I borrow a PSU shirt and the prices are immediately down to $100, $110. But still I'm looking for something better. And then, out of nowhere, I see three maize-n-blue clad wise men hanging out on the corner across from the Bryce Jordan Center. Turns out they took a bus trip over from AA and have an extra ticket. Even though I'm still wearing the 'State' shirt, they offer it to me AT FACE!! I immediately rip off the shirt and give the guy a Yuengling Lager-- in fact after the transaction we end up talking UM shop for about 20 minutes. I even brought up MGoBlog. So if any of you three are reading, THANK YOU so much!! You literally made my afternoon.
With that being said, fast forward to gametime, and I make my way to my seat. After fully expecting to find a seat somewhere deep in the middle of the "WhiteOut" surrounded by Nit fans, there I am shoulder to shoulder with fellow Michigan Men. Together we stand and watch pensively as our boys funnel out of the tunnel. Life is good.
The game begins... and we can't ask for a better beginning. Bad snaps for PSU, and a fumble. Threet running, for consistent POSITIVE yardage. Minor's playing like a madman, and Stonum's holding onto the ball. Even the defense seems to be enjoying themselves out there. WHO ARE THESE GUYS???
Before we know what hit us, it's the 2nd quarter and we're up by 10??? And you can feel the fear hanging over the stadium like a big fiery Hindenberg. The "GO! BLUE!' chant from our visiting section seems to be hacking into the surrounding sections like a machete into the jungle. And the boys are MAKING US PROUD. By halftime Penn State surges against us, and squeaks in a score. But at the half, instead of down by 23.5, we're up by 3. My day, at this point, is STELLAR. I remember asking to the new best friend next to me, 'which team is going to show up for the 2nd?' But still, we're very impressed and proud of the team... and my day at this point could never have been better.
So then, what happened?? Well, about ten minutes later, you ALL KNOW what happened.
DEEP DEEP DEEP in enemy territory, just below the crater of white-clad drunken Paternoville students, Nick Sheridan strides onto the field.
And the clock struck midnight, and our carriage turned into a pumpkin. It was night and day, and every single soul in that stadium knew it. 39 unanswered points. By the time 110,000 happy people in Happy Valley started singing "Living on a Prayer," I remember thinking that this was a totally different Saturday than the one that started out from my warm bed.
Long story short-- it was very clear to me that the team has no confidence in Sheridan. The line seemed confused, Odoms doesn't know where the ball is going, Stonum's glue-like hands can't catch a thing, and-- last but not least-- there is NO ROOM for Minor, McGuffie, or anyone to run because there's absolutely NO passing threat.
I'm sure there's more to say-- but from where I was sitting-- Sheridan is like the grim reaper for our team. When he shows up, BAD, bad things are going to happen. But, still, for 30 minutes I saw what our boys are capable of, and it gives me hope. We'll be back.
As long as the #8 becomes firmly connected with a headset. Sorry Nick.