Tomorrow, It’s Personal
First of all, let’s get one thing straight. If you’re a junior or senior at Penn State, we’re not playing Iowa tomorrow. We’re playing Fucking Iowa. Let me refresh your memory in case you’ve forgotten why.
November 2008 – Penn State entered Iowa City ranked third in the country at 9-0 with a berth in the BCS Championship game well within reach. Iowa jumped out to a quick lead, but in the fourth quarter Penn State held a 23-21 lead and had the ball in Iowa territory. Please, don’t make me go on. If you don’t know what happened, or truly enjoy self-torture, you can watch for yourself.
March 2009 – After a dramatic, buzzer-beating victory over Illinois, all Penn State had to do to punch their ticket to the Big Dance was beat lowly Iowa. A play-in game, of sorts, for the Nittany Lions, against a team nursing a 4-13 Big Ten record. And then Jake Fucking Kelly discovered his inner Larry Bird, and that was that.
September 2009 – One word: revenge. In the span of 10 months, Iowa kept us from playing for a national championship in football and making the NCAA Tournament in basketball. The stage was set as Paternoville neared capacity, College GameDay rolled into town, and a raucous Whitehouse crowd of 108,000+ filed into Beaver Stadium out for blood. Despite the rain, all seem to be going according to plan when Daryll Clark hit Chaz Powell for an 80 yard touchdown on Penn State’s first play from scrimmage. And then, we watched a 10-0 lead wash away into the night, leaving us once again asking how we let Iowa knock us out of the top five.
September 2010 – There really isn’t any other way to describe this game other than a good old-fashioned ass kicking.
Okay, seriously, somebody get me a drink. That wasn’t easy to relive all at once.
For Penn State students, especially juniors and seniors, tomorrow’s game is personal. Neither team enters the contest ranked or highly touted, but the big game atmosphere will be there simply due to the animosity we hold in our hearts towards Iowa. No, the excitement won’t reach the level it did during the first quarter of the Alabama game, but if this game is close in the fourth quarter you can bet The Beav’ will be as loud as it’s been all year.
This may not be a rivalry to Iowa, as they have their hands full enough with Iowa State and that hideous trophy (oh, wait, they won’t have their hands full of the trophy this year). For us, however, this game means just a little bit more than the rest. It means revenge for 2008 and redemption for 2009 and 2010. It’s personal.
As a senior, I’ve suffered enough at the hands of Iowa. They ruined my chance of seeing Penn State play for the national championship, something they’ve never done in the BCS era. They robbed me of the beautiful euphoria that comes with finding out your school made the Big Dance. They drowned our hopes of revenge in ’09, and they kicked us while we were already down last season.
Tomorrow’s game will be ugly and hard fought (hopefully), and that doesn’t always make for exciting football. However, this game could very well change the direction of the season, for good or bad. A win gives Penn State a 2-0 conference record with 5-0 looking possible heading into November, while a loss could send the season spiraling (further) towards another year of mediocrity.
Tomorrow, we, as fans, need to treat this like the biggest game of the season, because it is. And I will be damned if I don’t lose my voice trying to push us over the Fucking Iowa hump (insert Mounting Nittany reference here).
Come early, be loud, stay late.