Other People's Happiness

By Ramzy Nasrallah on October 23, 2016 at 7:00 am
james franklin
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Losing isn't bad. Losing happens. Getting accustomed to losing is bad.

Ohio State took an L on an evening when the right side of its offensive line couldn't protect anything, its receivers couldn't separate from anyone, it had a punt and a field goal blocked (one of those was returned for a touchdown) and it botched an extra point, all while showing lapse after lapse on all three sides of the ball.

The coaches were collectively bad as well. This was a comprehensive failure.

The Buckeyes barely resembled the ones who went into Norman and undressed Oklahoma or the team that just six nights ago came out of the locker room in the 2nd half in Madison and exerted its talent advantage over the Badgers. That historic 20-game road winning streak is now complete and they'll hope to start a new one in College Park next month.

Ohio State fans are sad, and - I know my tribe well - probably quite angry. Penn State fans - who have not had much to be happy about for several years now - are exhilarated. This is easily the best football day they've had this decade. That's how sports works. There's only a finite amount of happiness to go with an infinite amount of sadness. Buckeye fans are really good at forgetting that.

Had they hung on to win there would have been some grumbling beneath the exaltation for gutting out a gritty win in one of college football's most intimidating settings. These signs were evident for most of last season and came to a catastrophic head against Michigan State; this year they started to seep out against Indiana and Wisconsin before ultimately taking Ohio State down in State College.

Penn State fans are happier than you would have been had your team won. Try and figure out which fanbase takes wins for granted and which one would do anything to get back to the point where it felt that way about winning.

When Urban Meyer hastily John L. Smith'd a field goal to give Penn State the decisive score it was all but over, and the head coach had one more finger to point - at himself - for this comprehensive, team loss. It's the healthiest kind of L to take, the one where everyone is the villain.

As for Penn State, their head coach now finally has his signature win. Meyer falls to 56-5 at Ohio State, taking his fifth loss in five seasons. Five signature losses. When you win like he does, all losses get special, awful treatment. And every one of them - Michigan State twice, Clemson, Virginia Tech and now Penn State - sucked.

That's a good thing, because if they didn't hurt that means you don't care. The opposite of love isn't hate. It's indifference. Try being a Browns fan dealing with constant awfulness, as some of us foolishly do. Try rooting for Purdue. This is our price of admission. If you have trouble grasping that, force yourself to remember how this all works. Love isn't optional.

Ohio State will win again. They'll also lose again. Just try not to get too used to either.

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