The Boilermakers continued their long-standing tradition of almost never winning in the state of Pennsylvania, as the good guys fell 45-21 to the Nittany Kittens of Nappy Valley.
Wait, what's that, you say? The Boilers scored points? They sure did, clearing 14 points for the first time since 9/28 vs NIU and only the fourth time this season. They were helped again by a kickoff return, as this time Raheem made the Mostert of his opportunity and returned a kick 100 yards for a score.
Here's what I can say about this game: it didn't make me feel worse about the season. Is that the same as giving me reasons for optimism? I'm not sure, but I'll choose to be an optimist at the moment. Danny Etling looked a bit more comfortable running the team at times. He went 21/33 for 223 and a TD (along with an INT) and also ran one in for a score on a playcall the BTN announcing crew found to be utterly amazing.
I'd commented throughout this season that if only the Boilers were losing by scores like 49-21, etc., that I could feel like at least something was working. But when you're losing 44-7 and 56-0, it's hard to see anything being good. So by my own recent logic, 45-21 has to be considered a slight improvement.
However, it looks like even more of an improvement when you consider that the Boilers fell behind 28-7 and did not fold up shop. Mostert's kick return TD gave them some positive feelings heading into the half and they responded in the third quarter with an 84 yard drive that culminated in Etling's rushing TD. That 84 yard drive is significant, too, as the Boilers were actually able to move the football in this game with some regularity. They still can't rush the ball, however, as they only had 38 yards on the ground and a total of 261 for the game against PSU's 501 total and 289 on the ground. Mercy, that's hard to overcome.
That said, the Boilers did have drives of 32, 54, 75 and 84 (plus the 100 yard kickoff return), which is more than can be said for a lot of their games this season. They also had two fumbles and a turnover on downs in the second half — if those killers don't happen, this is unquestionably a much closer game than the 45-21 score it turned out to be.
Alas, those things did happen and the Boilermakers fall to 1-9 (0-6) on the 2013 season. Their remaining opponents also got thumped today, with Illinois losing 60-35 to OSU and IU getting walloped 51-3 by Wisconsin. Many feel that Illinois will be playing for their coach's job next week against the Boilermakers and Indiana will be playing for bowl eligibility in the Bucket game — assuming they win on the road in Columbus next week. (Hee.)
Two weeks left in this season to forget…but at the same time, two weeks are left to get better. If this crop of players uses those games wisely, it could mean a lot when it comes to getting off to a quick start next season. A win or two would make 2013 feel far better than it has any right to feel. Go get it, boys.