Saturday, September 26, 2009


As I read through the hype leading up to this week, I was surprised by the number of fans veiwing this game as a revenge game. I'm not sure I agree.

The 2008 Hawkeyes were a team that couldn't even manage to beat Pitt, yet somehow came up with enough emotion and lucky breaks to knock off the #3 team in the country and deny Paterno a chance at a third national championship . . . chances that are few and far between and considerably more rare and valuable when you are 82 years of age.

How will a win tonight atone for that disaster? If anything, the stage is set for a repeat performance. We are #4 instead of #3, still dreaming of national title hopes, and Iowa is . . . .


Will this game spoil their season? Possibly. But I don't think anyone outside the corny state of Iowa is seriously penciling in the Hawkeyes for a BCS title game appearance. Maybe not to many folks are doing that for PSU--yet--but some are. And after tonight, more will be.

I was going to wax philosophical over this game, but then I read a post by demlion that pretty much said everything I could say about this game and probably better than I could in my rambling, stream of unconsciousness kind of way.

Penn State fans far and wide, if you are coming to the game, you are going to get a wet a$$. There is no escaping it. Your feet are going to be muddy, your car interior is going to be trashed, you may get sick for a week, and all of that is quite distressing until you think of this:

Our university has assembled a game day program, the whiteout, which actually can make a difference in the game. Some of you may recall that I am a longtime skeptic of the notion that what the fans think makes any difference. Whether I root for UM to beat Indiana today will make zero difference, so strategic or tactical cheering of that remote sort is a waste of time. I go with a gut level analysis of who I hate the most--in this case Michigan; Go Hoosiers!--but I know it makes no difference.

But today in the rain and slop and the stink of cowshit from the dairy barns, my usual rule is void. When Iowa has the ball and their QB feels his femurs hum because 110,000 fools are screaming at him to fumble, slip, throw a pick, or in some extreme cases, die (I am not recommending this), the fans can and will make a difference in this football game. We can escape the usual ironclad rules, and make Iowa seek out a way to have their next game with us at Fedex Field or some other neutral site. The word will go out--you do not want to come to the Beaver.

What was once mythology will become a self-fulfilling prophecy--a prophecy of DOOM for the Outsider.I want Iowa to have prepared to go on some sort of hand-signal snap count because one set of human vocal cords will not make itself heard from the QB to the tackle a few yards away. Our D goes on the movement of the ball, their O has to figure out a way to act in unison without verbal communication. Every time it does not work and they either false start or get run over because one of their lineman is crouching in his stance after the ball is snapped, we break the rules of the game and the fans hand our defense an advantage. They get more frustrated. They forget assignments or make other mistakes. The advantage grows.

Haul your rain gear into the ballpark with you and sit there for so long as there is any doubt. You paid good money for these tickets and drove long hours to get there. You will not sleep worth a damn in your hotel room or RV if we lose, anyway. If we lose a close game and you can speak above a whisper by Tuesday, then unfortunately this loss gets chalked up to YOU.

I sat in the stands for Nebraska 2002 when Gardner picked off Lord and coasted 75 untouched to drive the final nail in the coffin of the Cornhuskers. The guttural, raging roar of the crowd was one of the loudest things I have ever heard. I had reverb in my ears like when you are standing in the open air at a jet show. On that day I saw the power of this-- an intimidating, brutal, merciless assault on consciousness. It disturbs one's equilibrium. That game was O-V-E-R.



The Nebraska game was a sort of revenge game. We didn't actually play the Huskers in 1994, but they stole our crown nonetheless. One of the best teams in college football EVER went uncrowned because we didn't play them. In 2002, the Huskers were ranked 8th I believe, although they wouldn't end the season ranked if memory serves me. But we took out 8 years of what ifs and could have beens on that team that had no resemblance to the 1994 squad.

I don't think a single season removed from Iowa is in the same category ("revenge is dish best served cold"), but I must admit, I will be more than ecstatic if our team pounds them tonight and defeats them soundly. There will be a sense of redemption. But for what they did last season, it would only be a downpayment on any revenge. Maybe someday we will race onto the field screaming and celbrating as we knock off the Top Ranked Hawkeyes in a game they should have won, but watched slip away like a withered leaf blowing in the cold November wind. That would be revenge. Till then . . .


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