To be perfectly honest, I seriously considered not following through with another post about Penn State football this week, due mostly to my belief that Black Shoe Diaries should be completely shut down for at least a full year (and probably reconstituted under a new name covering something like Ivy League rowing thereafter); we, the members of the extended community that has developed here over the years, deserve to have this source of escape and camaraderie taken away from us as a meager form of punishment, and the moderators are obligated to such strident action as a way of sharing in the deep shame and contrition of Penn State University.
In the end, however, I chose to press on with the promised follow-up to last week's "top plays" post wherein "The Fumble II" at The Horseshoe in 2008 narrowly edged out Zack Mills' acrobatic touchdown run that sparked Joe Paterno's 324th coaching victory as BSD's favorite Penn State play of the Aughts... minus the campaign of 2005.
And that brings us to this latest offering. I'll spare you the superlatives about the 2005 season other than to say that both the '05 offense and defense were so talented and enjoyable to watch that picking top plays for a poll was an inexact affair. I looked for plays that were both exciting and significant, but again, the fun comes from the conversations about those I may have omitted or just other great memories shared by those who love our Nittany Lions. Dive in and enjoy. I have something a little unusual (and fun, I hope) planned for next time.
Northwestern - Fourth and Fifteen: Nothing that followed would have been possible without this do-or-die clutch connection between M-Rob and Isaac Smolko.
Northwestern - D-Will Delivers: Derrick Williams had already made good on his hype against a soft non-conference slate. This score to cap a comeback and seal a (then rare) road win took things to another level.
Minnesota - Poz Over the Pile: Penn State is Linebacker U., and Beaver Stadium is where Heisman hopes go to die, and this mid-air collision between Paul Posluszny and Laurence Maroney captures the essence of both.
Ohio State - Calvin Lowry Incites an Earthquake: Never did a generic European techno track carry greater significance. Lowry's pick was perfectly timed to unleash the full force of a delirious crowd primed for the upset.
Ohio State - The Fumble: In my memory, this play lasted about 19 minutes, in reality, it took about 5 seconds. At its end, Troy Smith was on the ground, Scott Paxon was on the football, and Penn State was back from the dead.
Illinois - Tamba Hali Flattens Tim Brasic: Nothing captured the team venting its pent up frustration from the previous week's loss like this devastating blindside hit that I honestly thought might have killed the poor Illini QB.
Michigan State - Donnie Johnson Seals the Deal: Rumor* has it that Matt Hahn used the story of this play that helped deliver the conference championship to Penn State to win over Rachel Uchitel.
Florida State - Ethan Kilmer Answers M-Rob's Prayer: It was only fitting that Kilmer, who through his personal story and gritty play personified the Penn State ethos, would make this improbable catch to help conclude a storybook season.
So there you have it. Vote; comment; complain; repeat. For those interested, a few notes on the selection process are included below.
I ultimately decided to limit this week's list to eight selections, in part because one play that I felt really deserved to be on there - Alan Zemaitis' score against South Florida - was unavailable on YouTube, and I did not want to start digging around for some random "cool" play just to round out the options. I probably could have substituted one of the TDs or other sacks from the OSU game for the Brasic play, but that sack by Hali remains one of my favorite moments from the 2005 season, and I just pulled rank. Plus, now Rambler shouldn't argue with an eight-item list with four defensive and one special teams play.
You may also be wondering about the play where MRob trucks Minnesota's Brandon Owens. Owens was injured on that play so badly that it basically ended his football career. After learning of the severity of its aftermath, Robinson requested that Penn State remove the play from all highlight reels and promotional videos. I left that memorable play off the list out of respect for Mike's obvious wishes that we not glorify a sequence where a kid was seriously hurt.
*I started this rumor just now.