As we close in on the end of the
world year 2012, it only seems natural to take a look back at the year that was. This past year is not one we will soon forget, and while there were many moments to pick from, here are our ten favorites:
10. MICHAEL MAUTI’S PICK 6* AT ILLINOIS
We’ll have more about this game later down the line, but I had to include this on the list somewhere. The game was still somewhat in doubt, believe it or not, as Illinois was driving at the end of the first half to get within two scores at the break. Instead, Mauti stepped in front of a Nathan Scheelhaase pass in the end zone, and proceeded to rumble 100 yards up the sideline. Unfortunately Michael needed about 101 yards as he was brought down just short of the goal line, and the resulting field goal was blocked (should’ve gone for it BOB!), but in a game as big on emotion as any for PSU this season, Mauti made the signature play. Besides, in 10 years when we’re telling our kids about the play, Mauti will have scored anyway.
9. TOP RECRUITS REAFFIRM THEIR COMMITMENTS TO PENN STATE
The ground was still smoldering on Saturday, July 28th in the aftermath of the Emmertbomb (TM) when top recruits Adam Breneman, Christian Hackenberg, Garrett Sickels, Brendan Mahon, Will Fuller, and Andrew Nelson visited Happy Valley to meet with Bill O’Brien. By that night, all 6 had reaffirmed their commitments to PSU (although Fuller bolted for Notre Dame about a week later). Sure, nothing is official until signing day (or when Breneman arrives on campus next month), but the headliners of what was at the time a highly regarded recruiting class all pledging to remain with PSU during the toughest moments in program history undoubtedly sent a strong message, and helped keep an important signing class from totally falling apart.
8. MAUTI, ZORDICH, AND COMPANY MEET THE MEDIA
As rumors swirled about most players leaving, and the entire Illinois coaching staff pitched tents outside of Holuba Hall, seniors Michael Mauti and and Mike Zordich, along with dozens of their teammates, made a brief 2 minute statement, pledging to stick with the besieged program in the face of the sanctions. At a time where it honestly felt like PSU may not have enough players to even field a team this season, the senior leaders gave PSU fans a reason to be optimistic.
7. PENN STATE KNOCKS OFF NAVY
After emotional losses against Ohio in the home opener, and the struggles on the road in Charlottesville, questions were swirling about Penn State’s ability to win even 2 games, let alone pull off a .500 record. The Nittany Lions put that to rest early on racing out to a 20-0 halftime lead, and coasting to a 34-7 over the Midshipmen. Sure, it was only Navy, and at the time much uncertainty remained, but the first win of the year eased many concerns, and certainly helped a tight team relax for the rest of the season.
6. PSU BLOWS OUT IOWA IN KINNICK
OK, Iowa was pitiful 4-8 this season, but it had been 13 years since the Lions had won in Iowa City, and the blowout 38-14 win was one of the more enjoyable nights of the season. Everything was working for Penn State all night, leading 38-0 before the Hawkeyes tacked on two sores that are in the dictionary next to the definition of “meaingless”. The victory was especially sweet around these parts after our prediction roundtable drew the ire of the Iowa fanbase, who were surprisingly quiet during, and after the game. I, however, was not as gracious in victory.