According a mental health website, the seven stages of grief can be paired down to three—disbelief, acceptance and rationalization.
When it comes to Penn State’s loss to Temple last September, we’ve already seen one and two but only now are we seeing number three. On several message boards, and in Philly.com under the name Ruben Amaro, Penn State fans have appeared and said “if Saquon Barkley played against Temple, we would have won.”
That narrative is a reach, even for Penn State fans. The Nits lost by 17 and by 27-0 over the last three quarters. Barkley did play and got one yard on one carry. How does that extrapolate out to 100 yards on 25 more carries? The only numbers we have against Temple is that had Barkley got the 25 carries Penn State fans wanted him to get, he would have finished with 25 yards, and maybe Penn State would never have scored its only touchdown (a run by Akeel Lynch). Those are hard numbers, not the “gut” of some Penn State fans talking.
Let’s face it, Penn State losing to Temple was a bitter pill to swallow for these fans and they might have to hold their nose and down the same medicine in State College on Sept. 17.
The thought process there—not here—is that Temple is “losing everybody” and that Barkley and the returning Penn Staters will roll over the Owls. They do not know that Temple ran in two entire defensive units in the second half of the season, with many of the freshman, sophomore and junior backups playing roughly the same amount of time as the senior starters.
The thinking here is that Penn State is going to be surprised by Temple’s ability to stop the run and put the same clamps down on Christian Hackenberg’s successor that they did to Hackenberg himself. Offensively, P.J. Walker and Jahad Thomas—who had 134 more yards than Barkley in the Sept. 5 game—should put even more than 27 on the board this time.
No doubt Temple will be getting points on 9/17 and I’ll be flying to Vegas and putting my money down on the Owls, even if it is as little as two or three. Temple knows Barkley is good, but it also knows his one carry wasn’t the reason the Owls won. A large segment of the PSU fan base won’t admit that now, but they will find out in a few months that narrative is faulty, too.
Ignorance isn’t a stage of grief but, in this case, it should be.
Tuesday: Six months to practice against a triple option