Now, I'm an engineer, and as such, I'm not very creative with my words. Besides, it's going to take a talent much greater than mine to approach the perfection of Bellanca's post last year on the subject.
Unfortunately, this season didn't quite live up to the great expectations many of us had. As The Dude says, it has been "strikes and gutters...ups and downs."
That being said, here we are again, too soon it seems like. It's mid-November and we'll be watching several of our men take the field at Kinnick for the last time. Several names are on our lips every week, and will likely be there again in April as we root for them to come to whatever pro team we each root for, so we can continue to root for them. They are so ubiquitous that we know them as The Manzi, DJK, AC, GULK, EPIC GREENWOOD, Tarp, and the Ginger [fill-in-the-blank] Donahue, aka "punting is winning." We have some nicknameless-to-my-knowledge-but-likely-NFL-bound players (at least in my amateur estimation) in Hunter, Ballard, Reisner, and Vandervelde.
If Josh Koeppel doesn't get an NFL job, we know he has a future as a professional stuntman, as soon as he finds a 6'2", 275 lb actor for whom he can be the fall guy.
I think it's safe to say Nittany Lion fans will never forget the name of Daniel Murray.
In addition, we have a host of regular role-players in Sandeman, Morse, and Paul Cheney, Jr. Players like "dandy" Don Nordmann, DAS PAKIBOMB, and Troy Johnson have regularly had their names called on special teams or in substitution.
And lastly there are a group of players whose names I probably wouldn't know except I looked up the roster for this piece. Regardless, their efforts day-in and day-out make the team better whether we see them or not: Andrew Schultze, Ben Evans, Joe Audlehelm, Nick Kuchel (best known as the Denard Robinson stand-in), Justin Greiner, Kyle Haganman, and Ross Peterson.
I sincerely hope I didn't leave anyone out.
No, we won't be going to the Rose Bowl this year. It pains me to write that, as I had it all planned out: once we won the Big Ten, I was going to buy my mom, a CA native who doesn't get to see her family often enough, tickets and airfare to the Granddaddy of Them All for Christmas, and I was going to go on my first bowl trip ever. Now I have to think of a new present for her, and think about whether or not I want to go to a Florida bowl game (as a semi-ginger, I tend to avoid a state nicknamed for its sunshine).
With that said, we still have at least one thing to play for: respect. And really, isn't that the only thing that counts? We have an opponent coming in who beats us like no other. I could amputate a finger and still count on one hand the number of times we've beaten them in my lifetime (and the irony is, I would have gladly sacrificed a pinky to beat them last year). And they have everything left to play for. I think 10 of 11 teams are sick and fucking tired of seeing tOSU on top of the standings year in and year out, and will be pulling for us to play spoiler and let another team take the lead, if only for one year.
To paraphrase a great semi-apropos movie speech: look at our men, their courage hangs by a thread. If this is to be their end, I would give them such an end that it be worthy of remembrance!
In other words, let's all man (and woman) the fuck up, drag ourselves out of the pity party we're having, and give our seniors the recognition they deserve on Saturday!
On Iowa. ON FUCKING IOWA!