#5 Penn State-Miami
The 1999 season started with perfection. Penn State started the season ranked #3 in the AP Polls and let the world know they deserved it with a 41-7 throttling of #4 Arizona in the Pigskin Classic. A week later they hung a 70-spot on Akron and then moved to 3-0 with a hard-fought 20-17 victory over rival Pitt.
Game number four was a road trip down to South Beach to take on the hated Hurricanes. Even though these two programs had only played each other 10 times before, they were always nationally important games. In the previous three meetings, both teams were ranked in the top 10, and at least one of the teams was ranked in eight of the ten matchups.
This meeting was no different, as Miami was ranked 8th in the country and Penn State was #3.
The level of talent on this Miami squad was just as impressive as its 1987 brethren, featuring Hall of Famer Ed Reed, perennial Pro Bowler Reggie Wayne, Clinton Portis, Bubba Franks, and Santana Moss.
The game featured the famous South Florida intermittent-to-stead rain. Early on, it was Penn State raining on Miami’s parade, as the Lions had a 17-3 lead early in the second half.
The Hurricanes woke themselves up and proceeded to come back dramatically, scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the middle of the 4th quarter.
The Hurricanes had the ball and were driving in Penn State territory when they were faced with a 3-and-1 on the Penn State 21-yard line and were stuffed. With their place kicker already missed an extra point in the rain, Miami head coach Butch Davis elected to go for it on 4-and-2. The Nittany Lions held, giving them the ball at their 21-yard line.
Penn State QB Kevin Thompson didn’t wait long, hitting the streaking wide receiver Chafie Fields on a 79-yard run bomb.
As with every single one of these plays, I’ll never forget where I was when I saw them. This one was special because it was on my birthday (September 18th) and I my best friend and fiance were throwing me a birthday party. I had placed a small wager on Penn State to win and by the time the game was done, I was significantly inebriated but sober enough to know that I had just won $100 and I proceeded to tell everyone around me that fact.
Easily the best birthday ever!
That concludes the first part of the list and the remaining 5 plays will be in an article that will come out very shortly.