Season shows PSU is still a top program

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Michael Mauti bowed his head slightly and choked back tears before Saturday's game. Jordan Hill embraced a line of fans once he stepped off the blue bus.

Seniors lingered on the field and tugged one last time on the victory bell -- shortly after Bill O'Brien whispered a Hail Mary and the team watched Kyle French push a 44-yard field goal wide left in a 24-21 overtime win. Before, during and after the game, the emotions of the last 13 months -- a scandal, a coach's death, the sanctions -- were painted on the faces of Penn State's players and worn on their helmets.

This game embodied the Nittany Lions' tumultuous season. Few expected them to come back, but they quickly showed -- after the first two scores -- they wouldn't surrender. They pressed, they pushed and they out-fought Wisconsin.

"I think this says that you can take bowl games and you can take external things from people," defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. "But you can't take a warrior's heart. And our kids got warriors' hearts."

An oversized, almost goofy grin was glued to John Urschel's face, but he didn't mind -- even when it was pointed out. Urschel shook his head, recalling how everyone counted Penn State out before the season.

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