Counting Down the Most Memorable Penn State-Ohio State Games: 1994
In order to be excited about what is to come in the future, it is important to understand and appreciate the past. This coming Saturday marks the most anticipated contest to date in a new era of Penn State Football as the Nittany Lions take on the undefeated No. 9 Ohio State Buckeyes. But big games against Ohio State are nothing new.
This is the third installment of a five-part series that will take a look back at the most memorable Penn State-Ohio State games since the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten in 1993. Hopefully this serves as both an informative and entertaining way to get you pumped up for Saturday’s matchup. Each day, we will provide a short recap of the selected game, and brief interviews with a few fans who were in attendance.
Today, we are re-visiting the 1994 matchup with stories from Marty Valania (@EastRecruiting) and (@rowlffdogg).
This game, played on October 29, 1994 in front of a homecoming crowd of more than 97,000 fans, is memorable for the offensive clinic that the Nittany Lions put on for sixty minutes. Running back Ki-Jana Carter got things started with a 20-yard touchdown run to put the Blue and White on the board first.
Joe Paterno’s squad led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter after the Buckeyes narrowly missed a field goal attempt. The margin was about to get a whole lot wider. Carter went in for his second touchdown of the day, and things were just beginning. Quarterback Kerry Collins would then find receiver Bobby Engram in the left corner of the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Carter scored his third touchdown which Engram helped set up by making a fantastic one-handed catch. Buckeyes quarterback Bobby Hoying was intercepted, and Collins went right back to work, finding Mike Archie for another score.
The rout was on as the Nittany Lions took a 35-0 lead into halftime. The Buckeyes would score a touchdown as the third quarter resumed, but Archie answered right back with his second score of the day. Between interceptions, the second of which was returned for a touchdown, Carter scored his fourth touchdown of the day. The entire second half was a celebration as the sun set in Happy Valley. After losing to Ohio State in 1993, the Nittany Lions made a statement with a 63-14 victory.
Rowlffdogg was 15 years old at the time. Attending the game with his father and grandfather, he had his first experience with Ohio State fans that day, and did not enjoy it. “We usually hung out in the not so rowdy tailgate lot, but this one car full of Buckeye fans next to us was the exception,” said Rowlffdogg. The three of them attempted to keep to themselves, but the opposing fans let them have it.
“They did say hello but quickly proceeded to tell us how bad of a football team we were and that Penn State would be sorry it ever joined the conference. They were going to teach us a lesson,” said Rowlffdogg.
That did not exactly go according to plan. “I specifically remember a couple great catches by Bobby Engram in the second quarter. We made our way back to the car with our heads held high, chests puffed out, and smiles on our faces,” said Rowlffdogg. The Chevy Cavalier that housed the Buckeye fans was nowhere to be seen.
Rowlffdogg has only missed three home games since the 1986 season. This victory, due to the lopsided nature, is not in his top ten games, but it did ignite a rivalry in his head.
“There are tone of reasons to abhor the Buckeyes. I trace my disdain to that late October day in Happy Valley.”
Marty Valania attended his first game at Beaver Stadium back in 1974 and has been a season ticket holder since the early 1990s. His dad went to Penn State, and so have his two children. That fall day goes down as one of his finest football memories.
“It was a 3:30 kickoff and just a beautiful day for football. The Buckeyes had two losses, but it was still Ohio State, and the place was nuts,” said Valania. Energy reached a fever pitch late in the second quarter when the lead went from 7-0 to 35-0 in a hurry. “People were on their feet the entire time. It was the most fun blowout ever, and Ohio State just had no answers,” explained Valania.
Early in the third quarter, a large contingent of Buckeye fans decided they had seen enough. “It was a mass exodus, and it seemed like the entire stadium noticed. Everyone just started waving at them as they walked out,” said Valania.
It was not supposed to be that easy. In fact, several Ohio State writers were very confident that the Buckeyes would win the game. “Some of the predictions just looked ridiculous after it was over,” Valania said.
The performance by the Nittany Lions was not the only surprise. On the same day, the third ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers defeated the second ranked Buffaloes. The next day, the Cornhuskers surprisingly moved ahead of the Nittany Lions into the number one spot despite the 49-point victory over the Buckeyes. A few Ohio State beat writers contributed to this by putting Nebraska first after previously picking the Buckeyes to upset the Nittany Lions. Without a Bowl Championship Series system at the time, Nebraska would remain there for the rest of the season and won the National Championship while Penn State had to play a decent but not great Oregon Ducks team in the Rose Bowl.
“It was such a contradiction. The combination of an amazing day and then dealing with the shocking news the next day,” said Valania. Dropping a spot in the polls after a 49 point victory still haunts many fans, but Valania has fine memories of that day despite the subsequent controversy.
“It’s definitely a top three game for me. It was just crazy. Look at all of the future NFL talent. That was as good of an offense and team as I’ve ever seen,” said Valania.