Unfortunately for Penn State, they couldn’t complete the comeback in the Citrus Bowl against a very good Kentucky squad. Luckily for fans of Penn State, it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, because number 9 has a lot to be proud of.

A Football Program Left in Shambles

I will personally never forget when I found out about the scandal that would leave Penn State as a national shame. I didn’t even like Penn State or college football at the time, I just thought the way the NCAA handled the whole situation was terrible, and the media didn’t help at all. I felt bad for all the students who went there, who didn’t have a voice when all of the horrible accusations came forward. This was a few years before I would even begin to think about what college I wanted to attend, and these thoughts reentered my thought process when I was making my final decisions.

I’ll also never forget the first home game I watched. It was my senior year of high school, and Penn State wasn’t on my list of schools I wanted to go to, and that changed after I watched them lose in overtime to Michigan. Sure they didn’t get the win, but I remember sitting there in absolute awe, 100,000+ people screaming “We Are!” while wearing all white? It didn’t take me very long to change my mind about where I wanted to go and I didn’t care about what had happened there a few years before. Penn State is one of the most well-known schools in the world and I just had to be a part of it.

Fast forward to freshman year, no one really had any expectations for the football team, they finished 7-6 and lost to all the teams they were supposed to lose to. A few players stood out, such as Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley but I remember talking to my friends about how we all decided to go to a school where the darkest days might not have come yet. SMU got the death penalty in the 80’s, and to this day, their football program has never recovered. So yeah, I could have never expected what would come next.

A Special Year

For such a magical year in 2016, it didn’t start out like it was going to be the year that brought Penn State back in the national spotlight: they started the year 2-2 and lost games to Pitt and got absolutely demolished by a very good Michigan team in the Big House. I thought, here we go again, but after Barkley ran home a touchdown in an overtime game against Minnesota, something changed. The team wouldn’t lose another game until the Rose Bowl. In my opinion, they got snubbed out of a playoff spot. Sure they had two loses, but the committee let Ohio State in after Penn State beat them, and they followed that by getting crushed by Clemson 31-0, but that’s a story for another time.

Lets talk about the win against Ohio State, a top-ranked team that had no business losing to an unranked Penn State team. “Tyler Durbin, super reliable within 40” they said right before Marcus Allen blocked a field goal and Grant Haley ran it all the way back for a touchdown.

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Safety Marcus Allen blocks a field goal with under five minutes to go in a close game, and Grant Haley runs it back for a touchdown.

I wish I could sit here and tell you all what an amazing night that was, but I never bought a ticket to this game and it’s something I’ll regret for a long time. My friend has a picture of him with his arm around James Franklin at center field singing the alma mater. Sure it sucks that I wasn’t actually there, but it was just as satisfying watching my school beat our longtime rivals in a game they had no business winning.

Trace Is a Winner

What followed that game was nothing but success, Penn State would go on to win a Big Ten Championship and could have possibly competed for a National Championship. Trace McSorley leaves Penn State as one of the best to ever play QB there, and these stats will prove it.

Trace has won a Big Ten Championship, a Fiesta Bowl game, where he was offensive MVP. The next list is all of the accomplishments and records he has for Penn State.

Career passing yards – 9,653

Season passing yards – 3,614 (2016)

Career pass completions – 703

Season pass completions – 284 (2017)

Career touchdown passes – 75

Season touchdown passes – 29 (2016)

Career total offense – 11,275 yards

Season total offense – 4,061 yards (2017)

Game total offense – 461 (2018, vs. Ohio State)

Career touchdowns responsible for – 104

Career rushing touchdowns, quarterback – 29

I could go on and on about how well he played over the last few years. How about that game-winning drive against Iowa with no time left on the clock? Or when he and Saquon dismantled Michigan in 2017 at the white out?

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Zero seconds left on the clock and Trace McSorley throws a touchdown pass to Juwan Johnson to win the game.

I have countless memories of the football team here, and I’m so glad I chose to go to a school like Penn State. So I guess this is a thank you blog to those players, especially Trace. Thank you for being a team fans could rally around, a team that was fun to watch, and really gave us something to cheer about. I’ll never forget this team, they brought back a winning mentality to a football program that was rocked by a very serious scandal and I couldn’t be more appreciative of that.

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