From the Fan's Mouth: Penn State vs. Ohio State Continue a Rivalry

It's the game of the week, no matter the level of football. We have hope facing tradition, a coach in the waning days of his career versus a coach continuing to build his legacy, and two football squads with as much talent as anyone else in the country.

When No. 3 Penn State takes the field this weekend against No. 9 Ohio State in the Horseshoe, it will essentially be the Big Ten championship game. If the Nittany Lions can break the streak of home domination in the series between the two teams, they'll be well on their way to their first national championship game since 1986.

We asked a graduate of each university (who are, of course, hardcore fans of their teams) to describe the rivalry, the matchup, and, oh yeah, the game. Here's what they said.

Adrienne Sack, Ohio State Buckeye (graduated in 2006

What is the buzz around Ohio State-land about the match-up?

I don't live in Ohio anymore, but the Buckeye faithful (myself and two others) in my office have kept our mouths shut after the USC debauchery.

This is the toughest Penn State team to face Ohio State in over a decade. Any worry on your side?

I would be more concerned if the game were to be played in Happy Valley, but the Buckeyes are tough to beat at home.

What is the rivalry like between these two teams?

It's a passive rivalry. Both teams like to play each other and have a lot of respect for each other. Compared with the Michigan rivalry, Penn State doesn't elicit that kind of animosity. However, this is the game for the Big Ten Championship. Buckeye Nation is going to be pretty emotional this weekend.

If you beat Penn State, do you think Ohio State is back in National Championship talk?

No, not unless you see a two-loss SEC Champion, and even then Texas would have to lose twice. The best we can hope for this year is a rematch with USC in the Rose Bowl. Which would be AWESOME.

Who wins it?

Ohio State in a nail-biter.

Mark Freed, Penn State Nittany Lion (graduated in 1997)

What is the buzz around Happy Valley about this matchup?

The buzz around Nittany Nation is one of cautious optimism. There are certainly alumni and students who are whole-heartedly drinking the blue Kool Aid. There are also those of us who have had our hearts broken many times in the past 15 or so years. We know how difficult it is to win in the 'Shoe, and how incredibly electric the environment will be on Saturday evening. If we do what we know we can do and we will be alright.

You haven't had success in the Horseshoe. What makes this trip different?

This trip to the Shoe brings a confident, skilled quarterback in Daryll Clark, a downhill runner in Evan Royster, and senior leadership at wide-out and and on the offensive line. On defense, this may be Tom Bradley's best coaching job of his career, as a lot of the disciplinary actions were taken with players on the defense. This trip is different in that the team knows exactly what they are capable of.

What is the rivalry like between these two teams?

This is a very bitter rivalry. It starts with a guy like Terrelle Pryor leaving his home state and now taking up residence in Ohio (or so he claims he is now from Ohio). We battle with the Buckeyes in the recruiting wars for a lot of players. It's an intense rivalry, which in my opinion is second to none in the conference.

What will have to happen to overtake Ohio State in their house?

PSU has had a strange habit of coming out sluggish in the first quarter, and then hitting the gas pedal as they move into the later portion of the game. They can't have that happen. Some of the players on the team have been quoted as saying mistakes in the first quarter have been made by being too "amped up." If we can make a few defensive stands, shut down Beanie Wells, contain Pryor when he runs on the outside and dominate the line of scrimmage, I think Ohio State will go back on their heels and wonder if they can really win the game.

Who wins it?

I can't answer that question, out of sheer principle and superstition. I never predict the outcome of a Penn State game.

Want to be the voice of your team in the coming weeks? Email and let me know why you'd be the perfect fan for your team. If you're picked you'll be asked to answer a few questions in big games to come.

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