The Big Ten conference formalized the new division alignments, starting 2014, with a press release Sunday. The release also mentioned that, beginning 2016, the conference will play a nine-game conference slate. Whoop-dee-doo. Let's take a look at what both things mean for Penn State.
Nine Conference Games
With a 12-game college schedule, spending 9 games on conference foes means....(give me a minute)....we should see three non-conference games each season. (checks math...) That's correct.
And since Penn State wants (at least) seven home games.....and since they'll only have four conference home games every other year.....then expect just one home-and-home series against a BCS-level opponent, and two games against Little Sisters of the Poor every year.
In other words, this doesn't mean much in terms of scheduling, so long as Temple doesn't ask to play at the The Linc every fourth year. And you won't, right Temple? Because we'll kick the shit out of Villanova instead, if that's asking too much.
"East" Division Mates
All-Time: 16 - 0
Average Score: 38-21
First Meeting: 1993
Trophy: a yawning panda, symbolizing a bored yin-yang
Best Game: W, 22-18, 2004 - Scoring points may never been as difficult as it was in 2004 for Penn State. Suffering a third dark year out of the last four, the Penn State defense rose to the challenge of a goal line stand to preserve an unblemished record against the basketball school.
Worst Game: W, 35-29, 1994 - Don't believe the score. This was a thorough ass kicking, made close by 28 successive onsides kicks from Indiana in the final three minutes of regulation. But it served as one more reason for pollsters to put Penn State #2, and Nebraska #1.
Rivalry Notes: hello, stranger. IU is bizarro PSU. We're football; they're basketball. Long-time, beloved head coach of principle sport fired. Spastic flashes of hope from the 'other' sport, buried between severe bouts of futility. Little brother (Purdue/Pitt) in state fascinated by weird/dumb things (trains for Purdue, crack cocaine for Pitt). Let's just move on, as the parallels are creepy and disheartening.
Average Score: 31-11
First Meeting: 1917
Trophy: a Soviet tank rolling through Prague, symbolizing PSU annexing the crab state.
Best Game: W, 27-3, 1978. #3 Penn State hosted #5 Maryland, and stomped them, on its way to an unblemished regular season, and a worst-game-of-the-year performance in the Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama.
Worst Game: T, 13-13, 1989. Played in Baltimore, a disappointing 1989 squad managed only to tie a 3-7-1 Maryland squad.
Rivalry Notes: Maryland fired alumnus Ralph Friedgen, 2010 ACC Coach of the Year, to hire Randy Edsall, who grew up in York, PA, attended Syracuse, and, upon leaving UCONN, called Maryland his 'dream job'. That's pretty funny. In other news, State College is rustic, while College Park affords you the opportunity to jump onto the green line, head down to Anacostia, buy crack, stab a fool, and grab some good chinese food on the way back (if you stop off at Gallery Place/Chinatown). They also have an IKEA going for them, which is nice, if you like ugly furniture and hand towels.
Average Score: 21-23
First Meeting: 1993
Trophy: a full length, broken mirror, with a robotic arm patting you on the back, and a speaker emitting congratulatory praise on endless loop
Best Game: the Joe Nastasi fake field goal game, 27-17, 1995. State College got buried in two feet of snow the Thursday/Friday before the game. It was nearly cancelled, but convicts from Rockview were trucked in to shovel out Beaver Stadium. Snowballs flew, pegging refs all over the field. And in a tight game, with five minutes or so remaining, JoePa called a fake field goal which Joe Nastasi ran in for the game-sealing touchdown. Runner up? 31-24, 1994. First game at the Big House, and it was an epic one that came down to the final drive.
Worst Game: take your pick. There's the Amani Toomer punt return game (1993, 13-21); the who's-Tom-Brady? game (1999, 27-31); the Tony Johnson 2-feet in bounds game (2002, 24-27); the Lloyd Carr 2-seconds game (2005, 25-27); the Mike Hart behind Jake Long game (2006, 10-17); and the QB14 derpitude game (2007, 9-14). But I'm going with the Bob Stephenson-Daydrion Taylor game, from 1997. Both squads were ranked Top 5, and featured somewhere north of 30 future NFL players on the field. It was never a contest. Penn State got absolutely mauled, 8-34. You're not familiar with Stephenson or Taylor? That's because after their vicious collision, neither played football again.
Rivalry Notes: When so many of your games have names, it tends to be a solid rivalry. Two things work against it, in this case. First, Michigan's already married to that skanky bitch from Ohio. But perhaps more importantly, a rivalry requires respect, and there doesn't seem to be much there from either side - at least, not enough to please the other's haughty requirement. And for my part, it's impossible to see the bottom of my pit of hatred for these guys. If I were more charitable, I'd admit that I believe they don't cheat; they make their players attend class and graduate; they take pride in running a clean AND successful program; and, I'm actually no less egotistic than they, the Michigan Men. But, as noted, I harbor an unquenchable hatred for these guys, so no - I simply can't write that I respect them. Just too much hatred there. Let's move on before I puke.
Average Score: 25-25 (....huh?)
First Meeting: 1966
Trophy: bow before the greatest trophy in all sport, the Land Grant.
Best Game: there are a lot of blow out victories in this series, if you're into that thing. But I'll take the season-ending 1993 contest. It was freezing in Spartyland that day, but the offense came of age in an epic comeback win, 38-37. Plus, in those days, you still had George Perles and his roided-out guys running around, crashing into things, and kicking out car windows on the way back to their apartments.
Worst Game: blowed out. The 14-49 loss in 1997 to a (7-5) Sparty squad was....woof.
Rivalry Notes: Sparty Noooo! LOL-Sparty. I like these guys, because, while you can never tell if they'll fight like hell or completely mail the game in, you can count on them doing something dumb to lose. And I appreciate that. Plus, they hate Michigan, so they can't be all bad.
Average Score: 18-19
First Meeting: 1912
Trophy: a rusted steel bumper off of a 1954 Buick Roadmaster, pulled out of a junk heap in Steubenville.
Best Game: as much as I enjoyed the 63-14 ass-kicking Penn State handed the Buckeyes in 1994, you can't beat the 17-10 victory in 2005. Plus, after beating the Bucks by seven touchdowns in '94, Penn State lost all of its first place votes from the state of Ohio in the polls - it's tainted with foul memories. Second runner-up: JoePa passes Bear Bryant on the wins list in 2001, 29-27. Third runner-up: Pryor's fumble, at night, at the Horseshoe, 2008.
Worst Game: admittedly, there are a lot to choose from. But I'll take 1995, a 25-28 loss at Beaver Stadium, for three reasons: 1) coulda, woulda, shoulda; 2) Eddie George fumbled; it wasn't close, and it wasn't called; and 3) I distinctly remember thinking, 'I know Clint Holes isn't the fastest safety we've ever had, but holy sh!t that other guy's fast.' The other guy? Terry Glenn. Not a cool matchup.
Rivalry Notes: Fahk these guys. You know all that bitching and moaning I did above about Michigan? I take it back. I like them. They have some admirable qualities. Hell, Michigan can come over and train my sister, when compared to these a$$holes. Ohio State makes me vomit. It's not just the cheating. It's not just the fake classes that result in Sam Maldonado having 0 transferable credits after 2.5 years on campus. It's not just the moronic fans who cry about getting hit with urine balloons (oh boo-hoo). It's not just the f***king helmet stickers - helmet stickers, for f**k sakes! If these guys were drowning, I'd throw them a bumper from a '54 Buick Roadmaster, and then I'd high-five a Michigan Man.
Average Score: 31-14
First Meeting: 1918
Trophy: a road sign for the 'Walt Whitman Service Plaza'
Best Game: ALL OF THEM
Worst Game: NONE OF THEM
Rivalry Notes: Look, Rutgers. You can claim the strip of Jersey along RT 18, from New Brunswick to Marlboro Township. But the rest is ours. You know this already. Don't make us remind you, and everything will be fine. Welcome to the conference. Enjoy the cash, take your beatings, and shut up.
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