Rose Bowl watch at Bigdogz

Lacey Wall and Jeff Kwiatkowski, both of Oakland, react to Penn State’s performance in the Rose Bowl while watching the game at Bigdogz Grill on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. John Rucosky/The Tribune-Democrat

For Jeff Kwiatkowski of Oakland, Penn State’s football team is headed in the right direction despite a last-second loss to Southern California in Monday’s Rose Bowl.

He said the Nittany Lions, who finished the season 11-3, began to play together as a unit once it beat Ohio State in late October.

And it seemed like the Nittany Lions began buying into coach James Franklin’s game plans, Kwiatkowski said while watching Monday’s game at Bigdogz Grill on Bedford Street.

Even with Penn State’s 52-49 Rose Bowl loss, there’s plenty to be optimistic about for the coming years, he said.

Many of this year’s stars will be back again in the fall.

“It’s great to see them winning again,” Lacey Wall said.

Monday’s game was a rematch of sorts.

Penn State’s trip to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl was its first since January 2009, when a team that featured future pros Jordan Norwood, Deon Butler and Aaron Maybin lost by 14 to a Trojans team led by Mark Sanchez.

Rick Baughman has had Penn State pride since guys such as Jack Ham, Franco Harris and John Cappelletti wore blue and white. But he said he couldn’t recall many seasons as special as this one – regardless of the outcome of Monday’s game.

The team’s turnaround from a sluggish start, its perseverance and youthful promise “made this season successful no matter what,” he said, enjoying a beer with friends at Bigdogz.

“With everything that happened and the (NCAA) sanctions, I really thought it was going to be a long time before they would be able to turn it around,” he said. “And I don’t think a lot of fans went into this year expecting the team to be this good. It’s a credit to great personnel and great coaching.”

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.

Recommended for you