As part of our final day of 2005 coverage, I'm going to introduce one of my favorite websites to you all. It's called What If Sports. The basic idea is that you can create a simulated match-up between any two teams in sports history (with certain limits on the years available). The college football database goes all the way back to 1996, which gives us access to the 2005 team. Now, there's no way that we will ever be able to actually allow that 2005 team to play against other Penn State teams in history, but the magic of the internet makes it kind of possible to predict what would happen.
Since different simulated scenarios can occur each time, I'm going to simulate a three game series between the 2005 team and every single team since then (the '05 team will be permanently set as the home team). Sound like fun? I think so. Let's get started.
2005 vs. 2006
Game One: 2005 Wins, 24-14
Player of the Game: Michael Robinson (12/16, 236 yards, 2 TD, 1 Rushing TD)
Game Two: 2005 Wins, 24-17
Player of the Game: '05 Tony Hunt (18 carries for 116 yards, 2 receptions for 33 yards, 2 total TD)
Series Notes: In both games, Tony Hunt was on fire for both teams. While Robinson showed out in game one, he was very quiet in game two, only throwing for 96 yards. However, true to form, Anthony Morelli just couldn't keep his '06 team in the game, tossing three interceptions in contrast to his one touchdown. Kevin Kelly let the '06 squad down though, missing two field goals (48 and 42 yards). You have to wonder what happened to wonder how '05 Kevin Kelly felt watching himself miss two field goals.
2005 vs. 2007
Game One: 2007 Wins 10-6
Player of the Game: '05 Tony Hunt (21 carries for 236 yards, 3 receptions for 37 yards)
Game Two: 2007 Wins 17-6
Player of the Game: '07 Rodney Kinlaw (20 carries for 116 yards, 4 receptions for 30 yards, 1 TD)
Series Notes: Not much to say here, as this was an extremely boring series of games, even boring for simulation standards. Kinlaw tore things up in both games though, and was ultimately the difference in the series. Well, that and the fact that Robinson put up some poopy numbers in both games. The '07 defense was able to keep Hunt subdued in the second game, allowing them to rack up just enough points to pull off the upset, and advance to face Alabama in the finals.
2005 vs. 2008
Game One: 2008 Wins 22-8
Player of the Game: Daryll Clark (16/21 for 207 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT)
Game Two: 2005 Wins 31-20
Player of the Game: Michael Robinson (9/15 for 248 yards, 2 TD, 18 carries for 40 yards, 1 TD)
Game Three: 2005 Wins 43-22
Player of the Game: Michael Robinson (10/13 for 201 yards, 2 TD, 21 rushes for 87 yards, 1 TD)
Series Notes: 2005 pulled off the comeback win in the first series to require a game three. All three games were run heavy, as Evan Royster played a huge factor, despite his lack of recognition as player of the game. He balled out in game three, in particular, rushing for 206 yards and 2 TD. Robinson's legs are what got things done for '05 in the end, though, as his pass rushing exploits are what led his squad to victory. If I was in charge of picking players of the game though, I would have given it to Kelly in game one (5 FG's) and Hunt in game two (144 yards and 1 TD).
2005 vs. 2009
Game One: 2009 Wins 34-10
Player of the Game: Daryll Clark (24/36 for 405 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT)
Game Two: 2009 Wins 34-0
Player of the Game: Daryll Clark (19/26 for 261 yards, 2 rushing TD)
Series Notes: 2005 never stood a chance here, as the '09 offense just steamrolled over them in both games. Daryll Clark was obviously the big performer in each contest, but Evan Royster did his share of damage, as well. The '05 defense brought the heat on the pass rush in both games, but it wasn't enough to overcome the '09 defense, as Robinson and Hunt were both unable to get going.
2005 vs. 2010
Game One: 2010 Wins 33-25
Player of the Game: Devon Smith (5 catches for 119 yards, TD)
Game Two: 2005 Wins 24-20
Player of the Game: Austin Scott (9 rushes for 69 yards, 2 TD)
Game Three: 2005 Wins 32-24
Player of the Game: Michael Robinson (14/22 for 178 yards, 1 TD, 16 rushing yards, 1 TD)
Series Notes: The tag team duo of Bolden and McGloin was nearly enough to take down the '05 squad, but MRob led his troops in the comeback. It was the Kevin Kelly show again for much of the series, as he drilled home four or more field goals in games one and three. The highlight of the series for me though, was seeing two of my favorites (Bolden and Smith) combine to be such a deadly combination in game one.
2005 vs. 2011
Game One: 2011 Wins 16-10
Player of the Game: Silas Redd (25 rushes for 96 yards)
Game Two: 2011 Wins 16-10
Player of the Game: Deon Butler (2 catches for 93 yards, TD)
Series Notes: The scores say it all for this round. Not much excitement here, although Devon Smith had another big series for the 2011 team. What could have been, Devon. WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN. The 2005 defense nearly won this one on their own, coming up with nine sacks and an interception. Three second half field goals from Anthony Fera were the difference, while Robinson struggled once again.
2005 vs. 2012
Game One: 2005 Wins 33-6
Player of the Game: Tony Hunt (18 rushes for 126 yards, 2 TD)
Game Two: 2005 Wins 30-7
Player of the Game: Tony Hunt (24 rushes for 203 yards, 2 TD)
Series Notes: The 2005 team picked up its first sweep in a while here, led by Tony Hunt. The 2012 defense was completely overmatched by Hunt, and McGloin couldn't get the 2012 offense going. 2012's passing attack (incredibly) was led by Alex Kenney, which was probably the root of the problem.
2005 vs. 2013
Game One: 2005 Wins 30-13
Player of the Game: Tony Hunt (19 rushes for 132 yards, 2 TD)
Game Two: 2005 Wins 26-17
Player of the Game: Allen Robinson (7 catches for 72 yards, 2 TD)
Series Notes: The 2013 team finally got A-Rob involved, but it wasn't enough to overcome M-Rob and Hunt, as 2005 sweeps another series. Hunt was the big story for '05, but Robinson and Scott also did plenty of damage. Hackenberg fought valiantly for the '13 squad, but the John Butler-led defense just couldn't hold back the 2005 offense, really at all.
2005 vs. 2014
Game One: 2005 Wins 26-13
Player of the Game: Michael Robinson (15/24 for 240 yards, 1 TD, 43 rushing yards)
Game Two: 2005 Wins 24-12
Player of the Game: Jesse James (3 catches for 139 yards)
Series Notes: 2005 was easily able to dispatch last year's team, with the 2014 team's lack of offensive firepower did them in. Sam Ficken did his part in both games, but the 2014 team needed a touchdown or two to compete here. A flurry of sacks, a varied passing attack, and more big performances from Hunt (over 120 yards in both games) made things relatively easy for '05.
* * *
2005 Series Wins: 6 (2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014)
2005 Series Losses: 3 (2007, 2009, 2011)
Players of the Game ('05): Tony Hunt (x4), Michael Robinson (x5), Austin Scott (x1), Deon Butler (x1)
Other Players of the Game: '07 Rodney Kinlaw, '08 & '09 Daryll Clark (x3), '11 Silas Redd, '13 Allen Robinson, '14 Jesse James
All in all, the 2005 team was pretty successful, going 6-3 in its run through the teams that they ultimately helped create with their amazing season. Could things end up differently if we simulated them all again? Sure. That's the fun of simulations. What do you think would happen if we put that 2005 squad up against this year's team?