No. 9 Penn State lost to No. 4 Ohio State in game that, in the words of former U.S. Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks, the Nittany Lions will take "to their f'ing graves." Leads of 13-0 and 26-14 slipped away, dissolving into a 27-26 loss. Penn State penetrated Ohio State's 45-yard line nine times, but averaged only 2.22 points on those nine possessions.
The Nittany Lions were good enough to win a massive, program-defining game, but let it slip away in the end. It's become a pattern in the James Franklin era in State College. Since Oct. 1, 2016, Penn State is 25-4. Those four losses: 52-49 to USC, 39-38 to Ohio State, 27-24 to Michigan State and 27-26 to Ohio State. Penn State held fourth quarter leads in every one of those games.
So in an emotional post-game press conference, Franklin diagnosed the issues that have caused his program to be eight point short in those four games.
"It's all the details. It's all the little things. It's finding a way to overcome adversity consistently," he said. "It's going to class consistently. It's getting to meetings on time. It's having your phone turned off in the meetings. It's not settling for B in a class where you could have got an A. It's taking notes in every single meeting -- every single meeting -- not because the coaches told you to do it, but because you want to be great. It's the coaches making sure that that's the standard. And we don't settle, we don't make excuses, we don't allow it to happen.
"There is a way to be unbelievably successful in life, in football -- that's what we're going to do. We have let little things slip by; that ain't happening anymore. Because those little things that slipped by? It's one point last year, it's one point this year. That's not happening anymore. That's not happening anymore. You guys thought I was a psychopath in the past? You have no idea."
Unfortunately for this season, it may already be too late. Last night's loss means the Nittany Lions need two Ohio State losses to win the Big Ten East, an overwhelmingly likely prerequisite to reaching the College Football Playoff.