Former Penn State Football Players Relive Historic 2016 Season On Big Ten Network’s “Video Recall”
As if anyone could get tired of Penn State football’s legendary 2016 campaign, fans can now enjoy it from the perspectives of several of the most important players on that team.
Trace McSorley, Grant Haley, Chris Godwin, Brandon Bell, Saeed Blacknall, and Mike Gesicki took a look back at the historic season and commented on some key moments from it on the Big Ten Network. The video was part of BTN’s “Video Recall” series, and it’s the second time the crew has made an appearance. They hopped on to relive the Nittany Lions game-winning drive against Iowa in 2017 just a few weeks ago.
The video opened with a clip from the final moments of Penn State’s win over Minnesota. After opening the season with a 2-2 record, the Nittany Lions’ overtime victory over the Golden Gophers helped spark a nine-game winning streak that ran all the way to the 2017 Rose Bowl.
While the win over Minnesota may not be the biggest highlight from the 2016 campaign, the importance of it wasn’t lost on any of the former players. Godwin, who’s now a wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, described it as “the turning point” for that team.
After that, the video moved up to arguably the most iconic moment of that season in the 24-21 victory over then-No. 2 Ohio State. Each of the six players had fond memories of that nerve-wracking win, especially the White Out environment.
“You can never go wrong with the White Out, man,” Godwin said. “To this day, it’s still the best environment that I’ve played in.”
Along with several clutch scores, the game was highlighted by Marcus Allen’s blocked kick that Haley returned for a touchdown to give the Nittany Lions the lead with just over four minutes remaining. It’s already considered one of the biggest plays in recent memory for Penn State, but Bell made the argument that it should be in the discussion for “play of the century.”
In looking back at the play, Haley remembered that Ohio State had one of the fastest kick-holders in the country with punter Cameron Johnston.
“I’m just happy I didn’t get caught,” Haley said.
That victory was key in helping the Nittany Lions’ make their trip to Lucas Oil Stadium for the Big Ten Championship. After falling behind 28-7 to Wisconsin in the second quarter, Penn State managed to seal the conference championship with a massive scoring run. Blacknall hauled in two touchdown grabs while Gesicki had another to help spark the Nittany Lions’ comeback effort that finished in a 38-31 win.
“Everyone on our team knew we were good [at halftime],” Bell said. “Nobody was tripping.”
McSorley finished that night with four touchdown passes and 384 yards through the air, including a score on a wheel route to Barkley that gave the Nittany Lions their first lead of the game in the fourth quarter. The always-clutch quarterback mentioned that he still feels it’s his best throw he ever made at Penn State.
The game wasn’t complete, though, until Haley and Allen combined once again to stuff Wisconsin on fourth down.
The video closed out with a look at the end of that magical run, as Penn State fell to USC 52-49 in a wild Rose Bowl. While it was a tough way to finish their season, all six of the Nittany Lions are still thankful for their trip to Pasadena.
While the game itself is plenty to talk about, fans got a new detail when Godwin explained that he was sick the night before and morning of the game. In what can now be referred to as his “flu game,” the star wide receiver had nine catches for 187 yards and two scores. His impressive performance was one of many on the offensive side of the ball for Penn State that day.
To close out the video, the crew discussed whether or not they deserved a spot in that year’s College Football Playoff. Not shockingly, It was a resounding yes by all of the Nittany Lions.
“I understand we had more losses than [Ohio State],” Godwin said. “But you gotta put the Big Ten Champion in the playoff. At least give us a shot.”
Despite that frustration, each player remains proud of the success of that season.
“That was the season that brought Penn State back,” McSorley said. “Dealing with all of the sanctions and everything, and to have that kind of season.”
The full 26-minute video can be watched on BTN’s YouTube channel here.
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