After a week off to regain our collective composure after the Michigan game (and in my case, regain health), the Roundtable is back this week to recap that epic Homecoming win, and preview Penn State’s biggest challenge of the season. Eric and I share our answers below, but make sure you check out our friends at JoePa’s Doghouse, The 50 Yard Lion, The Nittany Lions Den, and our kind hosts, Black Shoe Diaries.
Four overtimes. Two traditional powers. 108,000 people. What’d you think? Was it the Big Ten’s Game of the Year?
Matt: Was it the best played game of the year? Hardly. But you can’t make an argument that it wasn’t the most entertaining game of the year in the league so far. I’m still recovering from it, honestly. Those 4 hours in Beaver Stadium are the most fun I’ve had at a game since the 2005 Ohio State game.
Eric: As a senior Nittanyville camper who had a front row view of Allen Robinson’s catch, it was, well, I’m still unable to put it into words. The student section filled up, [most] students stayed for the whole game (and were loud) and it was just freakin awesome. For a week after the game, my voice was still hoarse and my body still ached just from all the emotion that that game put me through. So far, I think it was the Big Ten Game of the Year. But there are a lot of good games left to unseat it. I don’t think that I’ll ever witness another Penn State game like that one in my lifetime.
Two games ago, we lost by 20 points to Indiana. Last week, we beat a ranked Michigan team that was previously undefeated. What was the difference in those two games?
Matt: I don’t know how accurate this really is, but Penn State looked like a team that thought because they were Penn State, and the other guy was Indiana, they should be able to just walk into Bloomington with a win. That obviously is not the case these days. I thought that PSU played with a ton more urgency against Michigan, and how could you not? Like it or not, when you’re dealing with a bunch of 18-22 year old kids, it’s hard to get them up for every game, no matter how hard you try.
Eric: As much as I don’t really want to say it, Michigan kind of beat itself at certain points during the game. They should’ve thrown to Devin Funchess A LOT more because Penn State’s defense clearly had no answer for him. Penn State also had a lot of luck on their side with the two missed field goals, the blocked field goal and a bunch of Hackenberg throws that should’ve been intercepted or incomplete. However, Penn State’s front seven got a lot of pressure on Gardner and the run defense was phenomenal. Guys like DaQuan Jones, C.J. Olaniyan, Austin Johnson and Nyeem Wartman, among many others, came up big when the Penn State defense needed to make a stand.
The Nittany Lions and Buckeyes have played each other to a draw throughout their history, and the last decade has had several memorable meetings. Your pick for the better Penn State victory – 2005 or 2008?
Matt: 2005, easily. There was so much more than just a 17-10 win over a top 10 Ohio State program at play that night. After The 2000-2004 seasons, it really was the “hey, we’re still here” moment for the program. I think both teams, the ’05 Ohio State and Penn State teams, were much better than their ’08 counterparts.
Eric: Those were both awesome wins. But I’m going to go with 2005 because the Tamba Hali sack on Troy Smith is my favorite play in Penn State football history. It was also a signature game that marked Penn State emerging from the dark years and it sent a message to the rest of the country that the Nittany Lions were no joke. In 2008, although that Ohio State team was very good, Terrelle Pryor was still just a freshman and I think that contributed to the Buckeyes’ demise. I would just like to add that the 2011 win has a special place in my heart because I was there and it was an incredible victory considering what happened the week before.
Matt: I think PSU can have some success against Ohio State’s defense. The key will be to establish a running game, or at least enough of one to keep Noah Spence, Joey Bosa, and Adolphus Washington from teeing off on Hackenberg. Iowa also exposed some weaknesses in OSU’s LBs and secondary with their tight ends in the passing game. However, I think you’ll see OSU stick to a familiar blue print of wearing teams down in the 3rd and 4th quarters by pounding Carlos Hyde at a tired defense. PSU plays hard, but doesn’t have the horses, falling 31-20.
Eric: This Ohio State team is quite good. This is the first real hostile away game environment that Hackenberg will play in and it will cause lots of problems for him. Braxton Miller will hurt Penn State a lot with his legs, just like Devin Gardner did. Ohio State wins, 34-17.