The biggest game of the year on Penn State's schedule is always the matchup with Ohio State. It's a showdown between two powerhouses, and in recent history, it has featured the Nittany Lions taking on a team ranked in the top-5 of every national poll. It's two schools with rich football tradition and two of the best coaches in the game. Plus once you factor in the gargantuan recruiting implications that this matchup has – odds are if a guy has a scholarship offer from one school, he has one from the other as well – nothing is more important for Penn State than this f'ing game.
This made us wonder, what do the guys who have actually gone up against the Buckeyes think about this matchup? Well, we decided to ask a few of them. Here's what they had to say:
It's a game where 100 percent effort isn't enough. Try 150 percent. It's two teams with so much tradition but one school is trying to prove who's superior. It's a game where record doesn't matter, bragging rights for the year is at stake. Me, personally, I hate Ohio State, but I respect them. Each opportunity you get you want to take the heart of a Buckeye. It's a game where you used to see even more of a swagger the entire week from Joe Paterno. If playing in front of 110,000 in all white doesn't excite you, or 105,000 at the Horseshoe, this rivalry isn't for you. Bring your GUTS, you will need them more than ever.
Although the PSU/OSU game isn't classified as a traditional rivalry such as Notre Dame or Pitt would be, the matchup has grown to be the game that is circled on Nittany Nation's calendar every year. We recognize the talent and team that OSU has every year, and as a competitive school such as PSU, we know every year it will be a game we have to compete to win. And quite frankly that's what we're all about: competing to win.
When I played (‘96-‘99)….Ohio State and Michigan were the cream of the Big Ten crop of course, and we were eager to prove that we were every bit the national power. Remember we were only a few years in the conference, so there was definitely some looking down their noses I think. I remember John Cooper made his "St. Joe" comment. Plus OSU was always loaded, there was so much talent on the field when we played them in 1997.
I had a rather unique situation re: the OSU game….my girlfriend in college actually went to OSU for a semester, then transferred to PSU so we could stay together (aww). Her brother went to OSU, and is still a doctor at the university hospital there I think. Her parents both went there. My family was completely PSU of course, so these games and tailgates would involve a huge crew of mixed fandom, it was kind of bizarre, but fun. I also knew some guys on their squad because I went to junior high in Cincinnati, and actually went to school with them. Plus, the Big 33, and we had a bunch of guys from Ohio on our roster.
The games vs. OSU always took on an extra bit of intensity. The ‘Shoe is a very tough place to play, very loud. I remember their visiting locker rooms had no doors or partitions on the toilets….just a row of open shitters. That was, something. The 4 games I participated in, the home team won all 4 and the 2 wins at home were a couple of the most memorable games I ever played in.
I think the fact that these states border each other, we recruit heavily against each other, and that PSU and OSU are two of the more "historical" Big Ten programs makes for a pretty special game every year whether you want to call it a rivalry or not.
Ohio State vs Penn State is the mecca! We can't stand them but know that it will always be a dog fight. Penn State has and will never back down from anybody! These games are the ones you will remember for the rest of your life. I remember my first career interception came at The 'Shoe under the lights in primetime on national television vs Terrelle Pryor and his Buckeyes. Being able to play in a game like this is the reason we all play the game! We Are!!! Forever!
I went to the '05 Ohio State game as a recruit and since that night I always wanted to play for PSU in front of 110k. The game makes or breaks recruits.
You could always tell when it was Ohio State week, the coaches seemed to "pucker" up a little extra. Joe made sure that every little detail was planned and paid attention to. You always knew each time you played Ohio State you were in for a fight. The four years I started at PSU, we only beat them once, and that year we went to the Orange Bowl ranked #3. It goes without saying, if you could beat Ohio State, you were in good shape in the Big Ten and the nation. I personally always enjoyed playing at the horseshoe. Their fans are among the classiest in the Big Ten and I don't think I ever heard anyone curse out my mother, tell me I was worthless, or tell me I would be working for them one day. Playing Ohio State, either at home or away, was the reason you want to come to Penn State. You can benchmark yourself against some of the best players and athletes in the country. In at least 2 of the 4 years I punted against them, I punted to future first round picks. Ted Ginn did get one on me in 2004, but for the most part we were able to hold them in check, which was a great source of pride for the Special Teams at PSU. It's always a fun game and I look forward to seeing how this year's Nittany Lions match up against them.