Friday, September 30, 2005

Week Five: #18 Minnesota (4-0, 1-0) at Penn State (4-0, 1-0)

It sure feels good to be winning again. Penn State is 4-0 for the first time since 1999 and won their Big Ten opener for the first time since 1999. Now Penn State needs to exorcise the final demon of the downfall of the football program- the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Nittany Lions have not beaten the Gophers since 1998 and that fateful November afternoon. November 6, 1999- a day that would go on to live in infamy in the minds of Penn State players, coaches and supporters. Many claim that the downfall began years ago. The first cracks in foundation seemed to occur in 1995 with tough home losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin. Then back to back blowout losses to Michigan in 1997 and 1998 and the 16-15 escape of Minnesota in 1997. All of those events seemed to lead up to the program finally caving in against Minnesota on that infamous day. Dan Nystrom's game-winning field goal as time expired was like a dagger through the heart of any associated with Penn State. The Lions went on to lose the next two to Michigan and Michigan State before defeating Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl, a far cry from where PSU fans expected to be just weeks earlier. 2000 and 2001 were disappointing coming up just one win short of a bolw trip in both seasons. 2002 brought somewhat of a feeling of old back with a 9-4 season. 2003 and 2004 were downright abysmal. Now here we are in 2005. The Lions are climbing back to respectability with a strong early start to the season. Meanwhile here come the Gophers into Happy Valley, high after a victory over Purdue last week. Minnesota is thinking Big Ten title, Penn State is thinking resurgance. This is a statement game for Penn State, a chance to finally get people talking about Nittany Lion football again. Minnesota came in and spoiled Penn State's undefeated season in 1999. Now Penn State has a chance to exorcise the final demon and crush Minnesota's hopes of a dream season. The exorcism began when Penn State came within three feet of losing at Indiana last November. The Lions pulled off a goal line stand reminiscent of 1967's "The Stop" against N.C. State, the play many credit as the start of Penn State's football dynasty under Joe Paterno. The Nittany Lions have not lost a game since then. Minnesota is the last hurdle. As big a game as this one this, next week's is even bigger. How much bigger does it get than Ohio State at home, under the lights, 110,000 strong on national TV? If Penn State is 5-0 heading into the game, it may very well be the biggest game at Beaver Stadium in years. I think the Nittany Lions will be 5-0.

My Prediction- Penn State 24, Minnesota 23
The final demon is exorcised as freshman kicker Kevin Kelly, a freshman, nails a field goal as time expires to give Penn State the victory. Dan Nystrom, Minnesota's kicker in 1999, was also a freshman when he nailed the infamous kick. Coincidence? More coincidence- Penn State's last loss was on November 6, 2004 against Northwestern, five years to the day of the loss to Minnesota.


Post a Comment

<< Home