23 September 2006

This is it

Everything is stacked against Penn State today. GameDay is live from Columbus. The fans are already rowdy. The pundits are all picking double-digit wins for the Buckeyes. The Nittany Lions are 16.5 point underdogs. 96% of Yahoo College Football Pick'em users are predicting a Buckeyes win. On top of that, Penn State hasn't won in Columbus since joining the Big Ten (the home team has almost always won in this series). The last time Penn State faced a #1 team was in 1998. Against Ohio State. In Columbus. Ohio State won, 28-9.

Not many people, including many Penn State fans, think the Nittany Lions will prevail. Many of us (including me) hope and pray that our predictions are wrong. In online polls for both the Columbus and State College newspapers, only 19% picked Penn State to win.

These odds threaten to overwhelm us all, but perhaps not a group of players who will don a simple white uniform and a coaching staff that has done it the "Penn State way" for so many years. Today is the day to prove, win or lose, that Penn State belongs in the top tier of Big Ten teams and will fight to the end for that conference title. Today is the day to leave everything on the field, and know in their hearts, win or lose, that they gave it all. Today is the day to show the nation, win or lose, that the "Penn State way" is here to stay.

Ten times the Nittany Lions have faced a number one team, and four times they have won:

Nov. 17, 1990: The No. 18 Lions won at Notre Dame, 24-21.

Jan. 2, 1987: No. 2 Penn State beat Miami, 14-10, in the Fiesta Bowl to win the national title.

Jan. 1, 1983: No. 2 Penn State beat Georgia, 27-23, in the Sugar Bowl to win the national championship.

Nov. 28, 1981: The No. 11 Lions won at Pitt, 48-14.

Now, despite all the pregame shenanigans, despite all the predictions, despite everything else, one thing remains: and that is to play the game.

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