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Cardiac Spill: Hard-Boiled 42 and the End of the 39

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CELEBRATING THE STEALTH 13-9 AND UNDERSTANDING THAT EVERY DAY CAN’T BE CHRISTMAS

Pittsburgh v Clemson Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

1. IT’S THE LAST DAY THIS CAN BE DONE & I INTEND TO DO IT TO DEATH

HAHHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHHAHHAHHAHHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA IT’S 42:39 O’CLOCK AND TIME TO CHERRY PICK SOME F R E A K I N M O N E Y ////////////////////////

SMASH THAT HECKIN’ PLAY BUTTON AND LET’S PARTY LIKE IT’S TWO AUGHT ONE SIX

NCAA Football: Penn State at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State hasn’t beaten Pitt without some involvement from Joe Paterno – as head coach or assistant – since 1947. (source)

YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS: ON SEPTEMBER TENTH, TWENTY-SIXTEEN, IN THE DAYS BEFORE THE DAMAGE, PITT PANTHERS FOOTBALL PLAYED A GAME VERSUS THE PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS FOOTBALL TEAM AND BEAT THEM, THE FINAL SCORE WAS 42-39, LOOK IT UP, AND THEN LATER PENN STATE WON A BUNCH OF GAMES AND LOOKED REALLY GOOD BUT STILL THEY DIDN’T MAKE THE PLAYOFF, THEY DIDN’T MAKE THE PLAYOFF BECAUSE THEY HAD TWO LOSSES, ONE OF THOSE LOSSES WAS PITT, THE OTHER ONE WAS MICHIGAN, MICHIGAN WAS GREAT LAST YEAR, WE WERE GOOD, BUT NOT GREAT, AND WE WERE THEIR ANCHOR, THE ANCHOR ON THE NECK, AND SO IT CAN BE SAID THAT “PITT BEAT PENN STATE, 42-39, AND KEPT THEM OUT OF THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF”

SAY IT ALL YOU WANT, SAY IT ANYWHERE AND PRINT IT ANYWHERE. TRUE FACT. PROVABLE FACT.

I. Doomed!

Hello, friends! :)

I hope this blog post finds you well. Me, I’ve had a lovely, carefree summer of white wine spritzers and housing-development communal swimming pools and of darting from windowless room to windowless basement trying to avoid 95 degree humidity and nuclear war. For a terrible year, this has been kind of a wonderful year. I hope you, too, are all doing okay forever, and I hope the sun doesn’t ever go down on you. I wish you the best, sincerely. But as we all know, sometimes fighting only makes it hurt more in the end.

And as good as my life has been lately, everything worth talking about here has sucked: I’ve had to watch my beloved basketball squadron, for example, signal without ending that its next five to ten seasons will be miserable. But whereas most people would take this uncomfortable reality and toss it back and forth, back and forth, back and forth in their heads until it is a nice, round rationalization, I must always be different and have instead decided to Embrace The Suck. This started last season at the ACC tournament, when, at what turned out to be the final game of the 16-17 season against Virginia, I led a small group of Pitt fans in a series of chants: “We scored forty! (clap-clap-clapclapclap)” “We scored fifty! (clap-clap-clapclapclap)” Onwards and upwards, etc etc, not to make the point that we were anywhere close to winning, but that we were not getting totally manhandled by Virginia’s vaunted defense. (And now to tuck the phrase “Virginia’s vaunted defense” away for a few months.)

But the basketball team is a longer discussion for another day. Let’s keep heading slowly to my point and consider the three possible outcomes of this game coming up tomorrow:

Winning would be a win. Oh mE oh mYYYYyyyy, a win on Saturday would be the Clemson game tenfold. It means the worst case scenario is now a split series (2-2) in the four games scheduled - guess we’ll need a rubber match in 2031, in Clarion! It’d be a statement, it’d immediately make Pitt the favorite to win the Coastal, it’d be an undeniable “Rank Pitt” message to all who vote in polls. It’d send the other guys into a deep crisis of confidence, even if it is a brief one. We might be in the top fifteen with a win. Hell, if we win 50-0 we might even crack the top ten. If we win by a million points they’ll give us a special “zeroth” rank and we’ll be considered eternal champions, and then the national title game will be played every year for the right to be the best team that isn’t Pitt.

(Real quick - where in the above paragraph do you think it started getting silly?)

Losing close/staying in it until late in the game would be a win, because, if you recall, there was a solid month of “fuhhh we were missing a linebacker fuhhhhh our front starter got injured fuhhhhh road game fuhhhhhhhhhh clapping” from the State College crew after 42-39, and this year we’re missing our beautiful son Jordan Whitehead and probably some other beautiful sons due to that roster culling earlier this year and are on the road and Penn State is out for revenge and we have a new offensive coordinator and we didn’t get enough support from the (Miles) Sanders voters and this whole system is biased and all our players from Florida were distracted by the hurricane and years of pro-Penn State media has infected the minds of the referees and that should’ve been a catch and and and and and. For want of a nail, y’know? Beating the spread is actually all that matters this year, anyway.

Blowout: Bad! Bad! Not good! Likely! And I am here to help you cope with it!

2. I AM NOWHERE CLOSE TO DONE WITH THIS

Four quarters, nearly four hours and one well-timed interception by a fifth-year cornerback later, consider the debate over. Pitt-Penn State is still very much a thing. (source)

YOOOOOOO CAN WE JUST TALK ABOUT HOW THIS TEAM BEAT CLEMSON ON THE ROAD AND CLEMSON WON THE NATIONAL TITLE ANYWAY AND THAT’S MY SECOND FONDEST MEMORY OF THE 2016 SEASON?? LIKE... CHRIS BLEWITT FINALLY WINNING ONE FOR THE GRANITE SLAB OF HISTORY AND EARNING HIS PLACE AS A OTHER 2016 FOLK HERO??? BECAUSE BLEWITT WOULD’VE BEEN REMEMBERED, I WROTE ABOUT THAT DUDE THAT SUMMER, BUT I HAD NO IDEA THERE WAS A RYAN LEWIS ON THE TEAM UNTIL ABOUT AN HOUR AFTER THE INTERCEPTION, LIKE, IT DIDN’T OCCUR TO ME THAT THAT WAS THE NAME OF THE INTERCEPTION-GETTER, AND THE REVELATION HIT ME AT A SPEED THAT MUST’VE BEEN THE ESCAPE VELOCITY OF MY BRAIN BECAUSE I JUST SHOT STRAIGHT PAST MOUNT SAINT MACKLEMORE-JOKES AND FULLY INTO THE “THIS MAN DRINKS FOR FREE IN THIS CITY” MODE

I MEAN

HAVE YOU LOOKED AT THE STATS?

GIVE ME LIKE TEN YEARS AND I’M GONNA GO INTERVIEW EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE DUDES, ORAL HISTORY STYLE. I’LL GET AN INDIEGOGO TO QUIT MY JOB AND DO THIS. NEVER PUBLISH IT, BY THE WAY, I’M JUST GONNA KEEP A COPY OF THE FINAL PRODUCT ON MY COFFEE TABLE FOR GUESTS TO PERUSE. WHAT’S THIS GOLD-EMBOSSED BOOK ON YOUR EBONY COFFEE TABLE, THEY’LL ASK. MY DEAREST GUEST, WHAT A STORY I HAVE TO TELL YOU, A TALE, A WAY A LONE A LAST A LOVED A riverrun, past Forbes & Fifth, from swerve of shore to bend...

II. Unshakable Failure/Failure What Can’t Be Shook

SB Nation ran a pretty great all-hands-on-deck retrospective of the 2007 season last month, covering all the highs and lows of that year. I assume you all remember; even current freshmen were eight back then, and I remember stuff from when I was eight. In case you’re new to the faith: that season was full of upsets and chaos, with teams like South Florida, Boston College, and Kansas having top-five seasons; the regular season ended with Pitt (who was bad) beating West Virginia (who was, until this game, headed to the championship game) 13-9. And no matter how dark the next ten years got, there was always that to keep the fires burning. And the fact that the Mountaineers still have no national titles. You must remember that, too.

I have no way of knowing if 42-39 will be as fondly remember as 13-9, or even if it’ll hang in the same neighborhood. It wasn’t nearly as obvious at the time that this game would be the albatross, and it wasn’t nearly as big of an upset or technically an upset at all. But the thing is, Penn State can never unf*** the chicken of 2016, and as long as they continue not making the Football Big Dance, 2016 will stay with them and stay even harder with us. It’s gonna stay so freaking hard.

Hold on: this is a scary as hell Penn State, this year, though, yeah? They’re in playoff position right now. They’re on track for glory. We just barely sneaked into that window before they knew who they were; now they’re stonecrushers/stonecutters. 2016 may be the blip that sends them straight into a 2017 playoff run. But hey - life’s weird! There are like a dozen or so legitimate contenders this year. There are three just in the Big Ten Whichever Penn State’s In Division I Want To Say Generals. You’re only allowed so many mistakes in a season, and every year most of these teams with high hopes fall flat. So I’ll bank on that, this year.

So maybe we don’t stop them. Someone probably will. And then us again, next year, if a kind and loving God allows.

(Note that when they go undefeated this year, I will emphasize “probably” to death, like the common coward I am.)

3. I NEVER DID RUN THE TWEETCAP FROM LAST YEAR, DID I?

III. So then.

A deep, calming breath; A babbling brook; the “Zen Meditation” playlist on Spotify. One of those zen sand pits my therapist from when I was seventeen had.

This is not last year. This is not an endless wait producing endless hype producing endless pressure with the promise of endless possibilities. We have all now seen Pitt and Penn State on a football field once, and it looks like just about every other time two football teams of some stature played a game. We have now seen, last week, this Pitt team and this Penn State team, and it makes predicting a win seem kinda empty. We’re worse. They’re better. There’s either less magic, or fewer people expecting magic, or I’m projecting my feelings about my diminishing youth and potential onto a football game. Either way: I am ready to embrace the suck. Are you? Join me in the embrace. Repeat after me. Take your time:

  • I am ready to, as our first drive is not a three-and-out, entertain the idea of a win, like one entertains the idea of winning the lottery or driving their car off a bridge.
  • I am ready to mentally blueprint absurd comebacks, as if UCLA didn’t already get this season’s version of that last week.
  • I am ready for this drive to be the start of the comeback. This one. This one. This- ah, not that one.
  • I am ready to be mentally checked out by halfway through the second quarter, because, honestly, I expect it to be bad by then.
  • I do not expect us to be Penn State’s Youngstown State.
  • I am ready as heck to see Coach Narduzzi get ejected, possibly in one of these five ways.
  • I am ready to actually just straight-up turn off the game in the third, because, cards on the table, I have somewhere I have to be at eight.
  • I am ready to go to a bar Saturday evening and see muted TV’s tuned to ESPN with a chyron to the effect of “SAQUON BARKLEY HEISMAN STATEMENT?”
  • I am ready to see short clips of our guys getting clowned in commercials for other, better games later in the year.
  • I am ready to be heartbroken,
  • I am ready to be heartbroken,

Each of these things not happening is a small victory. Hopefully, the bad things that happen are funny.

4. ONE MORE TIME!!! I DON’T THINK THEY HEARD IT OUT IN CAMBRIA!!!

ROLL THAT BEAUTIFUL BEAN FOOTAGE:

SLEEP TIGHT, EAT RIGHT, FIGHT PITT FIGHT, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill’s facebook page and follow us on Twitter (@PittPantherBlog) for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow Haruki Murakami over here on twitter: @N_THEYSTAYTHERE (nicetryilluminati@gmail.com)