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F this team: Penn State

Before we even get started, I’m not going to talk about Sandusky. I don’t need to. Penn State sucks enough on its own.

It must be tough for Penn State, though, always competing with its Ivy League brother, Penn, and always coming up short. Penn State was founded in 1855 and is still somehow more than 100 years younger than Penn, which has probably contributed to an inferiority complex at PSU since day one. Penn State is also a good analog for the failures of government, as it has failed to live up to the standard of its private school brother despite having the full backing of the state of Pennsylvania.

Speaking of the state, is there a state that has gone farther downhill since 1776 than Pennsylvania? When the founding fathers met 240 years ago for the First Continental Congress and then got together two years later to come up with a sternly worded letter for the King, they chose Philadelphia as their meeting spot. They even liked the place so much that they named it the capital of their brand new country. But then, 10 years later, the rug was pulled out from under the city and Washington DC was named the new capital.

Things continued to go downhill from there. The Dutch farmed the ever-loving shit out of Pennsylvania only to watch their holdings dwindle and the state become the ninth most densely populated. Likewise, industry swept into Pennsylvania and then swept right back out when American workers whined for fair wages and civil treatment and foreign workers did not. These factors left Pennsylvania an over-populated hull of a state, replete with rusted factories, nearly stagnant population growth, and a governor equating gay marriage with incest.

Penn State was founded as Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania, which is probably the most embarrassing first name of any higher education institution. Since then the school has added many more areas of interest, becoming a real university or something, but that development has really just led to a far-too-strong emphasis on athletics.

The mascot for PSU is the Nittany Lion, an entirely fictional animal made to sound real. The thinking was that they could appropriate the name Nittany from nearby Mount Nittany into a new name for local mountain lions. It ended up with these Pennsylvanians looking idiotic and creating a nightmare-inducing mascot (just look at the fucking thing in the lead picture; if that doesn’t haunt you at night I don’t know what will).

As for actual athletics department, its history is not the apex of athletic success. The fencing team is described as a “powerhouse” for winning 13 national titles… but that was in fencing. Likewise, women’s volleyball has won six national titles, but no one is showing up for their games. Fans are showing up to see the men’s basketball team, whose best showing was a Final Four appearance in 1954, as well as the women, who matched that feat in 2000, and they’re showing up for football.

Football is a big fucking deal at Penn State; they think they’re Texas or something. Seriously fans love Penn State too much. They’ve got two national titles from forever the fuck ago and just four Big Ten titles, but maybe they had to vacate those? I don’t know how all that retrospective vacating of wins works. Either way, they think they’re better than they are.

This year the Nittany Lions football team has been pretty terrible despite having a quarterback that many people tabbed as a Heisman candidate in the preseason. Their rushing stats are somehow worse than Illinois (1,033 vs. 1,046 total yards), which is also true of its total yards and scoring offense (3,408 vs. 3,602 yards and 213 vs. 256 points, respectively). Penn State’s terribleness has still gotten them to a bowl, though, which is the reason some Illini fans are holding out hope this team can make a bowl, and that kind of optimism is annoying. JUST LET THE ILLINI FOOTBALL SEASON DIE, ALREADY.

Illinois and Penn State kick-off at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. I’m sure tickets are available, because, well, do you want to watch this game? TV coverage will be handled by ESPN2, if you want to have it on in the background while you clean the house or something. And, of course, I’ll be tweeting @chris_d_davies.

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