Penn State Football: Every Season Has A First Loss, How Penn State Has Bounced Back
The first loss of any football season is an important one.
Losing near the end of the year can change a team's bowl outlook. A loss in the early stages of a season can send a team off the rails. How a team responds after the first taste of defeat can tell you a lot about where the season is headed. For Penn State fans, that first loss has usually been a bump in the road, but not always.
Since 1980 Penn State has gone 19-11 following the first loss of the year. Some came early in the season, such as the 24-13 loss to Alabama in 1987. Others came late in the season, such as when Penn State was upended by Iowa, losing 24-23 with only three more games to go.
How a team bounces back from a loss is important, but how that team continues winning -- or losing -- is equally crucial.
For Penn State, a win streak is almost a guarantee after the first loss of the year.
The average span of wins following the first loss of the season is 3.15 games with win streaks extending past that average seven times since 1980. In fact, Penn State has followed up the first loss of the season with only one win before losing again, six times since 1980.
The longest winning streak after that first loss? Penn State has rebounded with seven game winning streaks three different times since 1980, the most recent coming in 2011 following a 27-11 loss to Alabama in week two.
On Saturday afternoon the numbers are in Penn State's favor for getting back on the winning track. Since 2000 the Nittany Lions have only failed to follow up the first loss of the season with a victory five times. Every other year has resulted in winning streaks -- on average lasting three games.
On the losing side of things? If Penn State falls to Kent State it would be the ninth time since 1980 that the Nittany Lions have followed up the first loss of the season with another defeat. The good news for fans is that the losing streaks have only extended past two games on three occasions with the longest streak coming in 2001 at four straight losses.
In an encouraging sign after the loss to Central Florida, head coach Bill O'Brien says he's happy with the way his team responded in practice.
"It's a typical Penn State team," O'Brien said. "These guys came back and we had a heck of a practice. Our staff said that it was our best Monday practice since we've been here. hopefully that bodes well for the future and for this week."