UNIVERSITY PARK - If you are like most Penn State football fans, you're probably feeling a bit disappointed after the dominating performance of Ohio State over the Nittany Lions Saturday - and rightfully so.
Couple that with an epic fourth-quarter collapse against Iowa earlier in the year and a lot of fans are left wondering what might have been for this year's team.
So for those of you looking for someone to blame for this feeling of unfulfillment, I say blame the senior class.
After all, it was this group of seniors that helped put Penn State in a position where 8-2 and a "regular" New Year's Day bowl is considered a down year.
Remember the lost seasons in the early-to-mid 2000s? I'm pretty sure if we could borrow Doc Brown's DeLorean and go back to those dark days of four-win seasons and 6-4 final scores, we'd all feel a bit better about a chance at playing in a Jan. 1 bowl game in Florida.
But this group, some of whom were freshmen back in 2005, helped rescue the Nittany Nation with that magical 10-1 run to the Orange Bowl and the hugely-satisfying victory over Bobby Bowden's Florida State Seminoles.
Remember how excited everyone was when the Nits beat Ohio State that season at the first "White Out" game? The crowd was so fired up that fans stormed the field after the game - something that doesn't happen at Penn State, at least not in its current state. The phrase "We're back" began showing up on T-shirts, sweatshirts and just about anything else you could think of.
And the slogan proved to be true. This class helped to show that the '05 season was not a fluke, winning the Outback Bowl against Tennessee and Alamo Bowl against Texas A&M, as well as winning yet another Big Ten championship in 2008 and a Rose Bowl appearance to go with it.
This team has won 38 games since that Orange Bowl triumph against just 12 losses.
Basically, this team has raised expectations back to where it should be for a program with the history of Penn State - a yearly run at the Big Ten championship and a spot in a BCS game.
Saturday is Senior Day at Beaver Stadium, but coach Joe Paterno says there is still too much football to be played to do much reminiscing.
"Haven't done it yet," he said when asked at his Tuesday press conference to reflect on the senior class. "I think a little later in the week as I watch practice, you know, we'll sit around and bit about some of those intangible things that you're talking about. ... I have not really thought much about it, what I want to tell the seniors, because we've got another game after this one. But I know where you're coming from. I think it's a good point. But I really can't honestly tell you I've thought about it. I haven't, not yet. I will later in the week."
While the coach doesn't seem to have the time to reflect, those of us who are fans (and columnists) certainly do. Penn State is shaped by the contributions of each senior class. But this group has had one of the biggest effects on the program of any in history.
They have changed the course of Penn State football for the better.
And we should all remember that when they each have their names called one final time on Saturday. We owe them at least that much.
Brian Cox is a Sentinel sports reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.