Get Excited, It’s Homecoming

If this or this doesn’t get you excited for Saturday, then you aren’t doing your job correctly as a student. Penn State plays undefeated Northwestern, and it may be the best game of the year.

Now, I know when Northwestern is brought up, a majority of people think of Stepbrothers, but what Pat Fitzgerald has done with the Wildcats the past few years is remarkable. The Wildcats are 5-0 and nationally ranked, and given the fact they haven’t won a Big Ten Championship in over a decade, they are hungry to show people that they are among the top dogs in the conference.

That being said, I understand why people may not be as excited for this game.

  1. It’s an ominous noon kickoff.
  2. Penn State can’t play in a bowl game or for a conference title.
  3. The Big Ten is pretty bad this year, which could be an argument for why Northwestern is tied for first in the Legends Division.
  4. It’s Northwestern.

Even with all these reasons, Penn State fans could not be more wrong. While attendance has been surprisingly good, Beaver Stadium has yet to eclipse the 100,000 mark. Penn State has not played a truly exciting team, I understand, but let me break it down.

Games against Northwestern have always been pretty damn exciting. I feel like I shouldn’t have to remind anyone, but remember The Catch (3:02)? In the mythical 2005 season, the Nittany Lions traveled to Evanston, Illinois for what should have been an  easy win. However, the Wildcats had the lead 29-27 with less then two minutes left in the game. Michael Robinson, being the boss that he was, led four freshman receivers down the field, connecting with Derrick Williams on a 3rd and 6, to immortalize the first signature and Big Ten win of that season.

How about 2010? Joe Paterno was chasing his 400th win, more than any other coach in FBS history. A surprisingly strong but unranked Northwestern team came in and had a quick 21-0 lead over the Lions. As win number 400 was looking more and more distant, Matt McGloin came in a led a comeback, putting the Nittany Lions on top 35-21 in front of 104,000+ fans on a cold November day for one of the most memorable moments in Nittany Lions history.

That’s what Northwestern is known for. Aside from potentially the nicest (and smartest) fans in the Big Ten, they are known for always making the game close —  they aren’t called the Cardiac Cats for nothing.

Back in 1995, Northwestern’s Rose Bowl season and first Big Ten Championship in 60 years, they had too many close games — either last second wins or in overtime. The nickname has carried out through the years, especially in 2004, when four of the Wildcats’ games went into overtime.

So from a historical standpoint, this should be an exciting game. There is one more major factor though, as Northwestern will come into Beaver Stadium on Saturday ranked at #24 (#22 on Coaches Poll, but who cares?), giving the Nittany Lions a chance to beat a ranked team at home for the first time since 2008 (or 1997 if your name is Mark Emmert). With what everyone in the Penn State community has had to cope with over the past several months, this upcoming Saturday will be huge.

I know Ohio State may be still be considered the “game to look forward to,” but people should really re-evaluate his one. It’s a chance to show that we may be the most dominate force in the Big Ten, yet we are hindered from even chasing our own conference trophy. It’s an opportunity to do what we do best: prove people wrong.

It may be an “early” game, but seriously, just wake up for one Saturday and wear white. Let us try to have an absolutely packed student section by game time, not some patchy blob by the end of the first quarter. It is a student whiteout, and those, by far, are the most exciting games.

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About the Author

Matt Westlake

Toona '12. Main '14. Creamery for life.

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