Some random observations while still reeling over the Nittany Lions' Hawkeye heartbreaker last weekend.
As ABC closed out their coverage of the Penn State-Iowa game Saturday night, they cut to a close up of a teary-eyed P.J. Maierhofer, Penn State's featured majorette and Altoona high school grad. Her expression wrapped up the feelings of the entire Nittany Nation hoping to see Joe Paterno and company complete another undefeated season and play for a national title.
With the caliber of one-loss teams this season, a college football playoff would be spectacular. We can only hope that someday we'll enjoy the excitement and entertainment a playoff would provide, and that Joe Paterno is still prowling the sidelines and able to enjoy it.
On the volleyball court, Penn State is still very much in the national picture: undefeated and ranked number one. Sophomore Arielle Wilson has been named Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Week as the defending national champions continue to tear it up. Penn State has won 52 straight matches, and stands tied for the most consecutive wins in NCAA history. This weekend's match at Purdue will air on the Big Ten Network, if you can get it on your TV.
Congratulations to the District 5 and 6 volleyball teams that did battle at the PIAA playoffs over the weekend. For as great as this area has been in girls' basketball, it's also becoming a hotbed for high school volleyball. The success of teams like Huntingdon and Northern Cambria on the state-wide stage has issued a challenge to the rest of the area to step up. This year, D-5's North Star did that, advancing to the Class A final.
Jimmie Johnson's race toward a third straight Nextel Cup Championship is nothing short of amazing. The Lowe's Chevrolet team, under Hendrick Racing is being tossed around among other sports dynasties like the New England Patriots and the New York Yankees.
In fact, in some ways, Johnson's team's success may be greater than multiple Super Bowl and World Series winners. NASCAR teams compete against nearly 40 other teams week in and week out in a sport that goes to great lengths to make the "playing field'' (engine, chassis, etc.) as equal as possible.
For one team to be able to put together three straight championships (if indeed he holds on for the final week of the season) is almost unbelievable. Credit keeping the team, including crew chief Chad Knaus together for the amazing run. Knaus is even featured in commercials with Johnson. How many other crew chiefs can the average NASCAR fan even name?
And like a great dynasty, they turn it on when it really matters: three of his seven wins this season have come during the Chase. That's clutch.
Kellie Goodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.