Counting Down the Most Memorable PSU-OSU Games: 1997
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 second 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 taking a look back at the 1997 matchup where we will hear from Joshua Guiher (@collegiatestdms). Only one interview was conducted for this game, but the story will more than compensate.
This game, played on October 11, 1997 saw two undefeated teams go back and forth over sixty minutes of play, as the second ranked Nittany Lions attempted to snap a two-year losing streak against the seventh ranked Buckeyes. Running back Aaron Harris found the end zone on the opening drive to start things off for the Nittany Lions, and a Buckeye fumble would set up a Travis Forney field goal to make it 10-0 early on. The Buckeyes would respond with ten unanswered points of their own. Dan Stultz got them on the board with a field goal before quarterback Joe Germaine found wide receiver Dee Miller in the end zone to even the score.
Nittany Lions quarterback Mike McQueary then found Joe Nastasi in the end zone to jump back in front. The teams headed into halftime with the Blue and White leading 17-13 following another Buckeyes field goal.
It was a sloppy all-around start to the final thirty minutes with a couple of turnovers before Germaine found David Boston for a short touchdown pass. The Buckeyes kept rolling as Pepe Pearson ran for a touchdown to make it a two score game. It looked like it would go to the fourth quarter like this before Harris scampered 51 yards to give the Nittany Lions a huge momentum boost with less than half a minute remaining in the third.
The defense quickly got the ball back, and McQueary and Enis went to work. The Buckeyes had a great chance for an interception of an errant pass from McQueary, but it fell incomplete. They would pay for the missed opportunity. Thirty seconds later, Enis took a carry 26 yards to the house to put his team back in front. The defense would hold for two Buckeyes possessions before the Nittany Lions ran out the clock and celebrated the victory.
Joshua Guiher had never been to a college football game before enrolling at Penn State that fall. During those few hours, he saw the Nittany Lions complete a comeback victory to remain undefeated — an experience that changed his life as a sports fan. Originally from the Pittsburgh area, the 34-17 opening day win over the Pitt Panthers was exciting for the first year student but it began to die down after that as the Nittany Lions beat Temple, Louisville, and Illinois by lopsided margins. Temple had been the only other home game, and despite the blowout, the excitement level just was not there. “Those three teams were horrible back then. You play some terrible teams, and it’s just not as fun,” said Guiher.
A question popped into his head before the showdown with the Buckeyes. “What are most games at Beaver Stadium like? Are they exciting like the Pitt game or boring like the thrashing of Temple,” he wondered. His question was quickly answered.
“The game was back and forth nonstop. Joe Germaine was playing great when he replaced Stanley Jackson at quarterback early on,” Guiher said. It looked as if Germaine was going to pull off the late comeback before one memorable play. The Buckeyes were on the move with three minutes remaining when Germaine floated a nice pass down the right sideline. It appeared as if Miller was going to come down with it around the Nittany Lions 25-yard line when cornerback David Macklin somehow got a hand in to poke the ball away while falling to the ground. “That’s the play that sticks out to me. They were driving towards the student section, and it was crazy loud. People say the 2005 game against Ohio State is the loudest game ever, but this was close,” recalled Guiher.
The fun was only beginning. Later that night, LSU defeated top ranked Florida. Students knew that the Nittany Lions would be moving up to the number one spot when the polls were released the next day. “Campus went nuts. Shortly before midnight on Saturday, between five and ten thousand students marched from Beaver Canyon all the way to Beaver Stadium to celebrate the anticipated news.
The freshman fell in love with college football that day, but there would be one more memorable component a few days later. “My architecture professor was a big fan, and we pretty much spent that Tuesday’s class watching a replay of the game.”
Guiher sums up the experience in three simple words: “It was awesome.”
Click here to view part one of the series and stay tuned for part three tomorrow.