Instanalysis: Three Hours of Escapism at Penn State


Concerns that playing today’s schedule Nebraska-Penn State football game were valid: safety in the wake of Wednesday’s on-campus demonstrations, sensitivity to the family and victims of the Grand Jury Report, and frankly the disarray the entire university experienced. I wrote earlier in the week playing Nebraska might be a needed distraction for the Nittany Lion players — teenagers and early 20-somethings thrown into this salacious tragedy unwittingly and unfairly. Indeed, the energy with which PSU played despite losing its first Big Ten Conference decision exhibited the many positive qualities of this game: competition. Sportsmanship. Camaraderie.

The teams joining at midfield in pre-game handshakes and prayer set the tone for a competitive clash befitting two top 25 teams. Penn State’s vaunted defense vs. the Rex Burkhead/Taylor Martinez-captained run game was the order of the day — in strictly football terms, just the way it should be.

PSU nearly rallied from a 17-0 deficit, playing increasingly loose as the game unfolded. The Lions’ very visible acclimation was perhaps a very tangible melting of the soul-freezing feeling those young men must have had since last week. Unfolding details of the case are inescapable for those of us in no way affected by it — imagine the innundation the players have experienced.

Reports were that a small smattering of the short sighted chanted for Joe Paterno. Otherwise the over 100,000 in attendance avoided further ugliness allowed Saturday to be about what Saturdays should be about. And maybe, just maybe, the outing can serve as step back toward normalcy for PSU players.