The “Rookie Coach” Bowl: PSU vs. OSU Rivalry

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Woody Hayes. Joe Paterno. Archie Griffin. John Cappelletti. These are just a few of the names associated with the Ohio State-Penn State series. The series record between the two teams is 14-12 in favor of the Buckeyes; not counting the 2010 win that was vacated due to an NCAA investigation. While not a serious rivalry for the Buckeyes, Ohio State is the closest Big Ten team to the Nittany Lions (334 miles away) and has given Penn State some great games over the years.

The first match-up took place in Columbus in 1912, with Penn State shutting out Ohio State 37-0, which remains the Nittany Lions’ second largest margin of victory, behind only the Kerry Collins’ led victory 63-14 in 1994. The Nittany Lions got their second win in Columbus in the past five years in 2011, defeating the Buckeyes 20-14 (This win, along with the others from the 1998-2011 seasons, was vacated due to the NCAA sanctions.)

A match-up that is remembered for the wrong reasons occurred in 2000. The Buckeyes blew out the hapless Nittany Lions 45-6, as Penn State was headed to just their second losing season under Joe Paterno (5-7), but that wasn’t the lasting image from the game. In the final two minutes of the game, Buckeye running back Jerry Westbrook took a pitch to the right side and ran at Penn State freshman defensive back Adam Taliaferro. Westbrook collided with Taliaferro, and the force and location of the impact left Taliaferro paralyzed. Coach Joe Paterno, a normally stoic man, said tearfully to reporters after the Purdue game the following week (a 22-20 Penn State victory), “Adam, if you’re out there watching, we’re still praying’, kid.” Less than a year after the injury, Taliaferro led the 2001 Nittany Lion football team onto the field to face Miami, prompting a thunderous standing ovation from the over-110, 000 fans in attendance.

In 2008, the undefeated Nittany Lions traveled to Columbus to face freshman phenom Terrelle Pryor’s Buckeyes. Pryor was widely regarded as one of the most sought-after high school football recruits ever coming from Jeanette, Pa. The 6’6’’, 250 lb. quarterback generated some controversy in University Park, when he referred to the town of State College as “too country”, and Nittany Nation was hoping Penn State would show him what he was missing. The game ended up being a defensive struggle, with the Buckeyes clinging to a 6-3 lead early in the fourth quarter. Ohio State had a 3rd and inches just inside Nittany Lion territory, poised to churn out more yards. Rather than simply sneak forward for the first down, Pryor decided to swing wide to the left, and was hit by safety Mark Rubin. Rubin punched the ball out from Pryor’s grasp, and after it scooted around, linebacker Navarro Bowman pounced on it at the Ohio State 38. The Nittany Lions drove for a touchdown, and eventually were victorious, 13-6. Penn State would lose their next game to Iowa, but finished the season as co-Big Ten champions. In fact, the winner of the Penn State-Ohio State game has won at least a share of the last six (counting 2010) Big Ten championships (Penn State has won in 2005 and 2008, sharing it with Ohio State both times).

This season’s match-up takes on a different tone however, as neither team is eligible for the Big Ten Championship due to NCAA sanctions. New head coaches Bill O’Brien and Urban Meyer will lead their respective teams into this October 27th clash. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30pm EST.






About: Dan Landers Nolan

Dan is a double major in broadcast journalism and secondary education for English. He is very active in Penn State's Internet radio station ComRadio, as well as a past president of the Alpha Zeta chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the national music fraternity. He hopes to teach high school English and work at a sports radio station broadcasting area sports.