Recruits, Not Just Rivalry, Fueling Football Showdown with Ohio State
When Penn State football battles archrival Ohio State Saturday night, the history of the annual bout will not be the only thing on the minds of Nittany Lion fans.
Anywhere from 80 to 100 potential recruits will be in attendance for this highly anticipated matchup. Recruiting became an even bigger concern for Penn State after the NCAA sanctions that came down in July limited the number of scholarships the football program could offer. The penalties had many associated with Penn State fearing that the team could not recruit top talent.
Penn State's 2013 recruiting class could be the most important, special class in the history of the program. While questions have surrounded the team for many months, most players in the 2013 class have stayed, forming a strong bond with one another and the Penn State faithful.
Just as senior linebacker Michael Mauti and senior fullback Michael Zordich have stepped up for the current team, quarterback Christian Hackenberg and tight end Adam Breneman have stepped up for the incoming class of players. Seven of the eleven current commits for next year's class will be in attendance on Saturday, including those two. Both have consistently reaffirmed their decisions to come to Penn State.
These two top prospects have been leading this class with full force, trying to recruit other stars around the country to join them. With the season that Bill O’Brien and the Nittany Lions are having, it is making the sell easier for Hackenberg and Breneman.
This weekend will give recruits the chance to see in first person what the PSU football program has to offer, and what better game to do it. The Whitehouse will be in full effect, along with a loud and sold-out Beaver Stadium of 110,000 strong. This is the time for the program to show prospects what the culture of the new era of Penn State Football is all about.
The Penn State-Ohio State rivalry has been intense over the years. The Buckeyes are the Nittany Lions' biggest rivals, and since 1993, the teams have had great successes and crushing defeats when facing off.
In 2001, the 1-4 Nittany Lions came storming back from a 27-9 deficit to win 29-27 at home. In 2005, both teams were highly ranked and had an epic battle capped by a forced fumble late in the fourth quarter that sealed a Penn State 17-10 win. And in 2008, third-ranked Penn State knocked off ninth-ranked Ohio State 13-6 in Columbus.
The Nittany Lions hope to add to the memorable list of wins against their oldest rival. The Buckeyes lead the all-time series 14-13 which has been back and forth over the years. The teams are the two best in the Big Ten Leaders Division, but are not eligible for any postseason play due to the sanctions at both schools.
Saturday’s showdown is being seen as any as the “hypothetical” Big Ten Championship game, and it should draw the eyes of everyone across the college football nation. This is a huge weekend because of the opportunity the Penn State football program has to make an impact for now, and for its future.
Tim Behan is a freshman majoring in Broadcast Journalism, to contact him e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.