Let’s just go ahead and put something out there. I despise Penn State, I hate everything about them. I hate the way they idolize Joe Paterno, I hate the way they complain constantly about how the conference is against them, and most of all I hate how relevant they think they are.
It might even be safe to say that I hate Penn State more than I hate Michigan simply because of how arrogant they’ve gotten since the fluke win last season.
It’s really kind of simple, it’s not a “rivalry” thing at all. It’s pure, unadulterated hatred.
In all honesty, it couldn’t be a “rival” thing because there really isn’t a true rival in the Big Ten for Ohio State. Over the past 15 years, the Buckeyes are 13-2 against Michigan and 11-4 against Penn State. When you are 24-6 against your “rivals” it simply turns into just another game on the schedule.
Saturday night is something completely different. It goes outside of the “rivalry” box and turns into a fight. It’s that moment where the smart-ass kid in the back of the classroom says the wrong thing to the kid who outweighs him by 50 pounds. It’s that one swift punch to the jaw where the kid drops and is quiet for the rest of the year. We call that a life-changing event.
It all started almost one year ago today, Ohio State was once again on their way to an easy victory over the helpless Nittany Lions. It was 21-7 at the beginning of the fourth quarter and Ohio State went into cruise-control mode. We all know what happened next, a bunch of lucky bounces went the way of the Nittany Lions and Ohio State left the game with a big…fat…L.
No one will remember OSU’s dominance in the game. The defense holding PSU to under 300 yards of total offense. The Buckeyes out-gaining Penn state by almost 150 yards of offense. No one remembers Ohio State holding Trace McSorley to 154 passing yards on 8 of 23 passing. He wasn’t the only one shut down. Saquon Barkley was held to under 100 yards of total offense and Desean Hamilton was held to one catch. Mismatch nightmare Mike Gesicki led the team with only 46 receiving yards.
The Silver Bullets chewed up the Nittany Lion offense and spit them out like the worthless piece of carcass they are. None of that mattered. Fourth quarter blunder after fourth quarter blunder made all of that irrelevant.
Since that day, Penn State has gone on a run trying to convince everyone how “great” Penn State is. An unranked team that was on the verge of their third loss. A team whose coach was on the hot seat. A team that weeks earlier had lost by 39 points to Michigan. They were now relevant and everyone was being told exactly how relevant they were.
I want you to think about this for a second. Going into the Ohio State game last year Penn State was 4-2 with losses to Pittsburgh and Michigan. Of those four wins, they struggled to beat Temple (7 points) and Minnesota (3 points). This was not a good team. One win changed everyone’s perception. Penn State would not beat another ranked team over their final five regular season games but we were all left debating whether they should make the playoffs. All because of one fluke win.
In the Big Ten championship game, we were all told to ignore the fact that Penn State gave up 31 points and had to come back from a huge deficit against a horrible Badger offense. Keep in mind, this was a Badger offense that had only scored over 31 points in a game three times. Those three times were against Akron, Illinois, and Purdue. Those types of things didn’t matter. Ignore stats and look at the eye candy and tell Penn State they are back!
Against Southern California, we were told to ignore the fact that the 52 points given up were the most USC had scored all season. You see, PSU and USC were in the same boat. They both had taken loss after loss in the beginning of the season before going on a run against weaker competition. The culmination for both was a very fun Rose Bowl with an illusion both teams were unstoppable.
The illusion has carried over to this season. Penn State has faced teams with a combined record of 26-24 on the season. Statistically speaking, the best defense they faced prior to Michigan was Indiana. The same Indiana defense who is giving almost 30 points per game to FBS schools.
After a yearlong magic show, we sit here 12 months later facing one of the biggest games of the season. A chance for revenge. A chance for domination. A chance to punch the loud mouth in the face.
A year ago, Penn State went into the fourth quarter broken and beaten. Fast-forward 364 days later and we had to listen to their coach pretend like he doesn’t know who his team faces on Saturday. We had to listen to a fan base chant “We want Bama”. We can sit here angry. We can sit here disgusted. One thing is for sure — Ohio State started this circus, and on Saturday night, Ohio State needs to end this circus.