Writing about my favorite Penn State football highlight seemed like an easy task. After all, there were only so many moments in Penn State football where, as it happened, you just knew it was history in the making. Giftopoulos. Collins to Engram. Carter. Lavar. LJ. Poz. Just a handful of names that produced a handful of those moments. But which one was my favorite?
There was no question, once I began the mental search for my absolute favorite Penn State highlight, that it would emerge from a rainy night in October 2005. The problem was, how could I pick just one moment from the Nittany Lions' 17-10 victory over Ohio State? Well, I wouldn't pick just one. Sue me.
Highlight #1: 2nd Quarter - Ohio State 3, Penn State 0
Trailing for most of the game to this point, the Nittany Lions started to put things together with a sustained drive led by Tony Hunt and Michael Robinson. Much of the yardage came on the ground in a workman-like fashion... until Derrick Williams lined up in the tail of an offset I-formation. The dynamic freshman put on a show the week prior against Minnesota, leaving many eager to see what the former No. 1 recruit could do against a defense like Ohio State's unit. He wouldn't disappoint. It was nothing more than a simple pitch from Robinson to Williams. But watching No. 2 seemingly fly past the outstretched arms of Ohio State's all-America linebacker A.J. Hawk and into the end zone, the play became so much more.
Highlight #2: 4th Quarter - Penn State 17 - Ohio State 10
The game wasn't in the bag for Penn State. After the 17-point surge from the second to the third quarters, the Nittany Lions only led by a touchdown with less than two minutes left and Ohio State driving. The Buckeyes' cause seemed lost when they were pinned deep in Penn State territory, right below the deafening student section. But Troy Smith, who would win the Heisman the following season for Ohio State, connected on two deep passes. Suddenly, the Buckeyes were within striking range. Did Penn State once again play it too close to the vest? Was the defense, as great as it was, asked to do too much to win the game? Both of those questions would be answered by one Tamba Hali, who's meeting with Smith in the backfield would be forever etched into the hearts and minds of Nittany Lions and Buckeyes for a long time.