The Pennsyltucky Bowl

Or, as some people call it, the Citrus Bowl.

If the Rose Bowl is the Grandaddy of them all, the Citrus Bowl is the second cousin once-removed of them all.

Pennsyltucky is a portmanteau.  Herein I will further elucidate this subject for your perusal, because quite frankly, unless you are a Kentucky Wildcat, the game itself is not worthy of discussion.


A portmanteau is a not only a large trunk or suitcase, typically made of stiff leather and opening into two equal parts, but is also a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others, for example motel (from ‘motor’ and ‘hotel’) or brunch (from ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’).

My personal favorite portmanteau, at this point in my life, is this:


I have been found matsurdating in public quite a bit.  But I digress.

Where the Snell was I?

Citrus Bowl.  Pennsyltucky Bowl . . .

Pennsyltucky Plate

Pennsyltucky . . . the term is used to describe all of Pennsylvania outside of the metropolitan regions. The word is a portmanteau constructed from “Pennsylvania” and “Kentucky”, implying a similarity between the two states’ mostly rural sections, a connection that exists in fact after numbers of Western Pennsylvanians left the state for Kentucky after the Whiskey Rebellion. It can be used in either a pejorative or an affectionate sense.


I was rooting for Penn State to come back, not just because I am a freakish Penn State fan whose whole outlook on life is affected by the mere outcome of a game, but just so I could answer all those Snell Yeah signs . . .

Snell yeah

With a resounding Snell NO!


Alas, we lost and now it’s just a wasted dream in the sea of college football commentary.

What the Snell happened?

We were 6 and a half point favorites.  We had McSorley in his final game.  We were arguably a couple of late fourth quarter collapses away from a better bowl game against a better opponent.

But we couldn’t even handle this one.

In the hours and day after this debacle, I have seen the words near-comeback and gutsy competitor bandied around like ping pong balls in a lottery drawing.

Everything that has plagued this team in the James Franklin Era replayed itself in 60 minutes of regulation football.

Special teams problems.  Questionable coaching decisions.  Poor clock management.  But the biggest one of all:  MISSED OPPORTUNITIES.

Missed opportunities.  So close.  It’s reminiscent of the Franklin post-game speech about being great, but not quite elite.

McSorley, this team–good, but just not quite great.

At the end of the day, at the end of the season, this team is 9-4.  That’s good if you are Northwestern.  That’s great if you are Akron.  You’re on top of the world if you root for Buffalo.

But here at Penn State, that bar was set higher than that.  We can argue about the pros and cons of that till we’re blue and white in the face, but that’s the fact jack.

A young Joe Paterno, with a school not historically considered a powerhouse in football, began a remarkable career.  With a combination of recruiting and coaching he built an Empire, while still maintaining academic excellence.  The peak of said Empire was in the 1980’s when he recruited and coached his way to TWO National Championships.  As he aged, he did less hands on recruiting, and probably less hands on coaching.  And it showed.  In the 2000’s his great teams–2002, 2005, 2008–came close to the glory of the 80’s, but fell short.  Sometimes by a mere two seconds.

Missed opportunities.

Penn State had more total yards (407-297), and only 15 fewer rushing yards than Kentucky.  We had more first downs, although our third down conversion percentage was poor.  We also had two turn-overs, and quite frankly, the botched fake punt was as good as a turn-over.  Had it worked–brilliant.  As it is, what the Snell was he thinking?

Coach Franklin didn’t miss two field goals.  He didn’t let Kentucky run a punt back for a touchdown.  He didn’t cause a pass to sail high over an open receiver.  Maybe he should have gone for it on fourth in the fourth quarter.  Maybe not.  Hindsight is always 20/20.  Trust me.  I’m an eye doctor.  If he’d have chosen to go for it and Penn State didn’t make it then people would be yelling we should have kicked the field goal.  Or, we should have used a different play.

The very fact that game came down to that critical play is because of all the other decisions along the way.

I’m not in a place in my personal life right now that I would choose to be in.  Yet, I am where I am because of the choices I made.

As disheartening as this loss was, the future is still hopeful.  For the team.  Not me.  Recruiting is excellent.  Sometimes talent can overcome bad coaching.

But for now, there is only reflection as we wait for the next season to dawn.


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