Lions Put OSU Loss in Perspective

OT Garry Gilliam and his fellow Penn State players don't intend to let the debacle in Columbus carry over to this week's home game with struggling Illinois.

Much has been written and said about Penn State's historic 63-14 loss to No. 4 Ohio State in Columbus last weekend.

It marked the third-most points ever surrendered by the Nittany Lions and the most since 1899. Since joining the Big Ten in 1993, PSU had never been whipped so soundly.

Yet when asked about the game, Lion offensive tackle Garry Gilliam needed a mere six words to sum up the night that was. And his account, offered Wednesday during a conference call with reporters, was probably the most accurate yet.

“We got it handed to us,” Gilliam said.

According to Gilliam, the redshirt junior who moved from tight end to tackle in the off-season, he and his teammates have taken a practical view of the ugly loss to the Buckeyes. They key is to not let any hangover from that game impact the Lions (4-3, 1-2) when struggling Illinois (3-4, 0-3) comes to town this week.

“It was definitely one of our worst losses -- I guess in Penn State history and obviously my history,” Gilliam said. “… But you can't dwell on that, and I think our team understands that. We've been a very resilient team. You've seen what we've gone through in the past and that definitely helps with us in being resilient and bouncing back.”

Added senior center Ty Howle: “(After) some of our other losses, we did the same thing. We get to Sunday and then Monday, and we focus on who we're playing (next). It's full speed ahead to Illinois this week. That's a great attribute for a team to have.”

Penn State has now lost seven games in two seasons under second-year head coach Bill O'Brien. But only two of those were back-to-back. The Lions opened the 2012 campaign with defeats to Ohio and at Virginia. That was less than two months removed from the program being hit with significant NCAA sanctions.

Since then, however, every time PSU has dropped a game, it has come back with a victory. Most recently, the Lions lost 44-24 at Indiana Oct. 5 then returned home to knock off No. 18 Michigan in quadruple overtime the following week.

So for anyone wondering if Penn State is as bad as it looked in Columbus, Gilliam has a message.

“Just watch the next game,” he said. “You can determine how good a team is by how they play the next week, especially after a loss like that. You just have to watch us against Illinois. We're past Ohio State. It happened. There is nothing we can do it about it now.

“We can't continue to dwell on that and let it ruin our season,” he added. “There's no point in that.”

Gilliam noted that “we can easily go 9-3,” but qualified that by saying to get there, “we have to win the next game, we understand that.”

The Illini are coming off a pretty nasty loss of their own. Michigan State pounded them 42-3 in Champaign Saturday afternoon. It marked Illinois' 17th straight Big Ten loss and kept second-year coach Tim Beckman winless in conference play.

That's the same Tim Beckman who tried to bolster his roster with Nittany Lions shortly after the sanctions came down, infamously sending staffers to Happy Valley to recruit Penn State players. Only one -- struggling offensive lineman Ryan Nowicki, who is no longer with the Illini -- bit. But the brazen tactic raised the ire of PSU coaches and players.

Publicly, at least, Gilliam and Howle offered different opinions on whether any of the bad blood lingers.

“I guess it depends on the player,” Gilliam said. “It happened, and we know it happened. I guess if certain players are going to use it as motivation, so be it.”

“We're really just focused on beating the (Illinois) team we're playing,” Howle said. “We're really not worried about last season or anything like that. We're just focused on what we're doing this week.”

Which is obviously better than focusing on the debacle in Columbus last week.

“We all know what happened,” Gilliam said. “If we keep thinking about it, it's going to make it worse. Our team is very mature, even down to the younger guys, and we understand we have to move on.”

True to form, it took Gilliam only six words to close the book on the Ohio State loss.

“They just played better than us,” he said.


• Despite being listed at right tackle and left tackle on the latest depth chart, Gilliam said he has not practiced at left tackle since the preseason.

• Nowicki did not play at Illinois last season. He has since transferred again to FCS Northern Arizona in his home state. He is listed as a second-team left tackle for the Lumberjacks.

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