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Onward Debate: Was Ohio State Win The Biggest In Beaver Stadium History?

Penn State’s triumph over No. 2 Ohio State is the defining moment of the Franklin era to this point. That much is certain. Everything clicked for the Nittany Lions and the win will have a special place in the hearts of Penn Staters across the country and the world forever.

There isn’t a victory in recent years that comes close to the magnitude of upsetting an undefeated powerhouse like the Buckeyes, but is it the biggest win in the history of Beaver Stadium? Now that there’s been a couple days to process everything, two of our staff writers weigh in.

Of Course, It’s The Biggest Win — Robbie Rockwell

Yes, this is the biggest win in Beaver Stadium history. This win may not be the most impressive in Penn State history, but it is the most important, and couldn’t have come at a better time. I think that Ohio State team was very talented, but also not the best Penn State’s ever faced. The Buckeyes Penn State played in 2005 were better, but that game didn’t mean nearly as much as this past one.

This win proved that Penn State football is officially back after being somewhat irrelevant nationally for the past five years. It means that the Nittany Lions can compete with almost anyone. It proved Penn State may have a pretty darn good football coach despite many voicing their doubts over the last two years. But most importantly, it meant that the NCAA had lost.

Yes, I know the win over Ohio State in ’05 meant basically the same thing. Three of the first four seasons in the 21st century were utter disasters compared to the program’s high standards, and Coach Paterno was on the hot seat. That year turned everything around and put Penn State football in the national spotlight again. But the 2005 Nittany Lions didn’t have to recover from the kind of emotional and logistical damage that this team did.

The NCAA had already lost because Penn State had four winning seasons in the sanction era—sanctions that were meant to destroy the Nittany Lions for a decade or more. A victory over the No. 2 team in the nation and subsequently earning a national ranking was simply the nail in the NCAA’s coffin.

With this victory, it made finishing with double-digit wins possible for the first time in seven years. It also makes a New Year’s Day bowl possible. Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself because winning out is very difficult in any conference, let alone the Big Ten, but the main point is that this program recovered from the worst sanctions in college football history outside of SMU.

Penn State has fielded average football teams the past few years and lacked an impressive win, but the program just got it and showed that this team is not average. In fact, it’s pretty damn good and it’s only going to get better despite facing incredible adversity.

This win meant more than just Penn State having a good football team, it meant that Penn State recovered from what no one else could.

Nah, It’s Not The Biggest Win — Steve Connelly

Saturday night’s win is probably the greatest victory I’m going to see live in my time at Penn State, but the program has way too much history to claim this victory as the greatest in the history of Beaver Stadium.

It wasn’t the most meaningful win in Beaver Stadium history.

As everyone knows, Penn State has two national championships, and the arduous roads to get to that point in both 1982 and 1986 ran through Beaver Stadium.

In 1982, the No. 8 Nittany Lions welcomed another No. 2 ranked opponent, Nebraska, into Beaver Stadium in early September. They edged the Cornhuskers 27-24 to give their resume some credibility before taking on No. 5 Pitt in the last game of the season, also in Beaver Stadium. Then-No. 2 Penn State once again edged a top-five opponent to set up a meeting with No. 1 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, where it would win its first national title.

Then there’s the undefeated season in 1994. Penn State claimed its first Big Ten title with back-to-back wins late in the season in Beaver Stadium to earn itself the crown and punch its ticket to the Rose Bowl, where the Nittany Lions would win it for the first and only time (lost in 1923 — first bowl — and 2009 to USC).

Saturday wasn’t the best game in Beaver Stadium history.

The win over Ohio State was an incredible comeback with absolutely insane and clutch plays to keep the Nittany Lions afloat until they finally pulled out the win.

I’m sure you can switch out the name “Ohio State” for a number of different schools Penn State has hosted in Beaver Stadium, and the sentence would hold true. You can switch it with Minnesota just a few weeks prior to that. If you take away the name, the ranking, and just focus on what happened in the game, there are a number of incredible games in Beaver Stadium’s history.

Of course the name “Ohio State” does matter. That No. 2 ranking also matters. That’s why we’re having this discussion. But once again, Beaver Stadium has had a long history and huge upsets like this have happened.

It happened in 2005, when No. 16 Penn State edged the No. 6 Buckeyes. It also happened in 2002 when an unranked Penn State team blew No. 8 Nebraska out of the stadium. It happened in 1987, when another unranked Nittany Lion squad wrapped up their regular season with a win over No. 7 Notre Dame. In 1983, Penn State triumphed over No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 West Virginia in the same season — the Nittany Lions weren’t ranked for either win and didn’t finish the season in the Top 25. The list can go on.

The win over Ohio State will always be special for me, but I’m not willing to call it the biggest win in Beaver Stadium history.

* * *

What do you think? Was last Saturday the biggest home win or is there another you would rank ahead of it? Let us know in the comment section.

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Posts from the all-student staff of Onward State.


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