OK, the likelihood of Penn State of playing for the national championship is over, buried in the rubble of four turnovers and a blocked punt against Iowa.
And because of it, today's game at Illinois has become even bigger.
How, you say?
Because Iowa exposed the Nittany Lions' flaws, it's logical to suggest someone else would have sooner or later.
It just turned out to be sooner.
Penn State can still win the Big Ten, still go to the Rose Bowl and still have a year that would satisfy most of the Nittany Nation.
at Illinois (1-2)
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m.
Line: Penn State is a 7-point favorite.
Updated PSU injury/status report: LB Sean Lee (knee) will likely miss his second straight game and probably will not return at least until Oct. 17 vs. Minnesota. KR-WR Devon Smith (concussion) is out and WR-KR Chaz Powell (illness) has been sick.
It can't, though, if it doesn't right the ship today, and even if Illinois is struggling, the Illini are capable of an upset.
As the past week unfolded, it was clear the Iowa loss was still stuck in Joe Paterno's craw. When asked on his radio show by regular caller/nuisance Jerry from Philadelphia how he was, Paterno paused and offered sarcastically, "great, Jerry."
In other words, Jerry: get to your question.
Paterno described Illinois as a team with dangerous parts.
He said he can live with a loss if the team plays to its potential, which he clearly believes it didn't against Iowa when he added, "just don't give the damn game away."
Paterno rarely swears in a public forum so you can tell he's chafed.
Now he's anxious to see if his team has the mental fortitude to move on from Iowa, and, frankly, he's not sure. He questioned the Nits' leadership, saying "we may have a couple guys who'd rather tell jokes."
In trying to put a new face on the season, he's attempted to instill hope by telling the team of the 1982 game at Alabama, when the Lions' punt protector, Mike Suter, drifted back midway through the fourth quarter, and, JoePa said, "we blocked our own punt."
The Tide scored, and a great game turned into a deceiving final of 42-21 and the Lions' first loss, but they regrouped and won the national championship.
Although it illustrated what a team can overcome with the proper resolve, mentioning the '82 Lions with this year seems to be a premature reach.
That team capped, from this view, the greatest three-year era of Penn State football (1980-82) - with the best games, the best players and, for sure, the toughest schedule.
But, like this year, it was also early in the season, Game 5, and the first road game (which followed the controversial 27-24 win over Nebraska).
The Lions won their last six to gain a berth opposite Georgia in the 1982 Sugar Bowl.
Can this team do the same?
The road is there. Let's see if the Lions can get back on it, beginning today.
If they can't, an 0-2 start in the Big Ten will cast a whole new light - or darkness - on this season.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.