I believe this is what most people would call being on a roll.
After starting the season 0-2, Penn State has now won four in a row thanks to a come-from-behind victory over undefeated Northwestern. Penn State scored 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat Pat Fitzgerald‘s group 39-28.
It was a display of resiliency that Penn State has become known for over the past month, and for that, Bill O’Brien gets our vote for Coach of the Year so far.
And we’re not even considering the strides this PSU offense, which had no playmakers or identity last year, has taken.
O’Brien inherited one of the worst possible situations you could imagine when he accepted the job at the beginning of this year. That situation was only made worse when NCAA president Mark Emmert took matters into his own hands this summer, handing out severe sanctions to the program including scholarship losses and a postseason ban.
Then, there were the player departures, highlighted by running back Silas Redd‘s decision to transfer to USC, and the early-season losses. Suffice to say, 2012 looked like it might be a lost season. Though there will be no Big Ten championship game or bowl for Penn State this season, O’Brien and this team have shown that, no, there is no giving up — even when they were given plenty of reasons to do so.
Penn State’s mettle will be tested over the next month as well with games against Ohio State, Purdue and Nebraska. O’Brien’s team probably won’t win all every game during that stretch, but PSU’s refusal to give up has shown that this team will have a chance.
A better one than many — myself included — thought they’d have.
Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.
Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.
“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”
Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.
You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season? Watch lists are being whittled.
The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior. The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.
The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).
The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten. The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).
Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah