You have to wonder what was more demoralizing for Penn State: Losing late in games after blowing a fourth-quarter lead against Ohio State and Michigan State, or never being in the game at all in a 42-7 blowout at Michigan. The defeat against the Wolverines might have shaken the Lions' confidence, something that needs to be patched up rather quickly for Saturday's game against the desperate Badgers.
The offense struggled last week because of the Wolverines defense and the fact that quarterback Trace McSorley wasn't at full strength after a knee injury suffered the week before. The defense hung in for nearly three quarters, allowing two touchdowns in the game's first 44 minutes before the roof caved in. Improvement must happen on both sides of the ball, and on special teams, against the physical Badgers and their outstanding running back, former Salem High School star Jonathan Taylor.
The Lions' tasks are simple: Get their rushing attack going, find more consistency in the passing game, and force turnovers and get off the field on third down on defense. They also need someone to step forward and make a play on offense, or defense, or both.
Who knows if the Lions can ease the pain of such a crushing loss in one week. If McSorley can play more like himself and not be hobbled by his knee, they can bounce back. We think they will.