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So let’s get to it. Here is your Wake-Up Call for Monday, Oct. 24.
Ranking the victory over the Buckeyes
Marcus Allen had the block and Grant Haley the return, and, in time, Penn State had a 24-21 upset of No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday night. Though the victory was not without controversy, the immediate implications are clear: The Nittany Lions landed in the Top 25 for the first time since they were 22nd at the end of the 2011 regular season.
But what of the historical implications? Two veteran sportswriters, David Jones of Pennlive.com and Mike Poorman of Statecollege.com, were among those who tackled the question of where the game ranks in program annals.
They came at it from slightly different angles, Poorman arguing that it was the biggest game in the history of Beaver Stadium, which opened in 1960, Jones writing that it was the third-greatest game he has seen in 26 years on the beat.
First Poorman, who said the game outdistances a classic 1982 defeat of Nebraska (a game that paved the way for PSU’s first consensus national championship) because of the context: The Lions are still trying to dig their way out of the rubble left behind by the Jerry Sandusky child sexual-abuse scandal, still trying to turn a corner in coach James Franklin’s third year, etc.
As Poorman put it:
There was so much more than just the game. Granted (Haley), though, Saturday’s contest was a great game to watch: From a scoreless first-quarter punching match – the only quarter in 2016 that the Buckeyes failed to score until Penn State blanked them again in the fourth quarter – to a riveting and epic 14-point fourth-quarter comeback (capped by Haley’s 60-yard scoop-and-score after a blocked field goal), it had everything …
Jones ranks Saturday’s game third in his all-time pantheon, behind a 35-31 come-from-behind victory over Illinois in 1994 and a 17-10 defeat of Ohio State in 2005.
Here’s his synopsis of Saturday’s game:
Without the benefit of a little seasoning, this is about as high as I can place it. We may look back on it and feel differently on where it slingshots this team and program. At the moment, this feels right. But, my God, what an electric and unexpected finish.
Other items of note from Saturday
Gabriel Baumgaertner of SI.com notes that Saturday’s game also marked the first time since 1964 that an unranked PSU team beat a club ranked in the top two.
Among the other items of interest in Baumgaertner’s synopsis was the fact that Penn State recorded five of its six sacks of OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett in the second half, after the Buckeyes had surrendered just five sacks in their first six games.
Defensive end Garrett Sickels, who served a first-half suspension for violating a team rule, finished the day with career-highs of nine tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
“Maybe,” Franklin joked after the game, “I should suspend him for the first half for the season.”
Defensive end Evan Schwan along with linebackers Jason Cabinda and Brandon Bell finished with one sack apiece and defensive tackle Kevin Givens was credited with one-half of a sack.
Baumgaertner also writes that the Buckeyes still control their destiny as it pertains to the College Football Playoff:
A three-point road loss against a team that will likely earn bowl eligibility isn’t disqualifying, and the Buckeyes still have two of their most important games (at home against Nebraska and Michigan) remaining. If (Urban) Meyer’s squad rebounds to win those two games to finish the season 11–1, then it still stands a good chance of being included in the final four come selection Sunday.
Riots lead to $18,000 in damages
The Centre Daily Times reported Sunday that rioting by fans in downtown State College after Saturday’s victory resulted in $18,000 in damages.
Said borough manager Tom Fountaine:
“There were five street lights pulled down, and a number of street light globes were also damaged or taken off the pole,” he said.
The Daily Times also reported that about 20 street signs and stop signs were also taken down, and that someone set a tree on fire. Between 5,000 and 10,000 fans reportedly swarmed the downtown area after the game.
Once more, with feeling
Worth one last look: