This wasn't supposed to happen. Penn State's run to the Big Ten championship game could be the most unlikely thing to happen in all of college football this season; but they did it. Eight wins in a row and Michigan lost two of their final three games, thanks to Iowa and Ohio State, leaving James Franklin conflicted, as his team took the field against Michigan State.
"I don't think we were necessarily rooting for one team," Franklin said after Penn State's 45-12 win over the Spartans. "I wouldn't necessarily say we were doing that, but we sure did want another team to lose might be the best way to describe that. I'm not comfortable rooting."
Ohio State needed double-overtime to get it done. So the Nittany Lions didn't even know the dominoes fell for them until halfway through the first quarter. The fans inside Beaver Stadium let them know.
"Trace (McSorley) came to me on the sidelines and asked 'what's going on?' and he was going to find out sometime. So I just told him that I assumed Ohio State had won."
"He just told me what happened and I was like, 'oh, OK,'" McSorley said. " (There) weren't really any thoughts at that point. We had just, I think it was our second three and out. So that was going to mean nothing if we didn't come out and do what we needed to do."
"Definitely gave us a little spark," Mike Gesicki said. "We came out a little flat and then after that we kind of got a drive going a little bit, got a field goal up on the board and then kind of took that momentum into the second half and we were able to build on it."
This is a team that was just 2-2 after getting blown out at Michigan, with injuries piling up. Teams in those type of scenarios don't make runs to conference titles. So don't try to explain it; enjoy it, and never underestimate the heart of a lion.
"It's been an amazing transformation kind of from where we were," McSorley said. "At that point we had had some success, but we knew we weren't having the success we could have. We wanted to reach our full potential this year and weren't leaving anything on the table. Just incredibly thankful for how this year's played out so far, incredibly grateful and just incredibly happy."
"Just kept saying to myself 'we won, but we're not done,' and that's all I can say," junior corner back Amani Oruwariye said. "We won, but we got bigger goals ahead. So we're excited. But we're going to enjoy it right now. But we're going to get right back to work."