And what would this demon be? Look back to 1997 and 1999, the last two times Penn State entered into its first November game with an unblemished record. The following catastrophes proceeded to occur:
1997 – The first of 9 straight defeats to Michigan, completely taking the air out of PSU’s sails and confirming that the Sports Illustrated cover curse is for real (PSU was ranked #1 in SI’s college football preview that year). PSU never recovered from such a beatdown and would go on to lose two more times that season, including a painful-to-watch Citrus Bowl defeat at the hands of Florida in which PSU played without Curtis Enis and Joe Jurevicius, who were suspended for accepting a suit and playing hooky respectively.
1999 – The “Day Of Infamy” for Penn State fans. Many folks claim that Minnesota’s upset-clinching field goal actually clinched the years of futility that would permeate into the first half of the 2000’s. Every fan can tell you where they were on the day when PSU’s aura of invincibility against the weak/mediocre teams was wiped away.
Those who were there will also tell you about the deafening silence and disbelief that overcame Beaver Stadium (save for the 50 Minnesota fans in attendance) when Minnesota’s Arland Bruce caught that prayer of a 4th-and-forever pass to get the first down and set up the winning score…Even though everyone secretly held out hope that LaVar Arrington would yet again save the day by leaping his way into another opposing field goal attempt. Basically put: asking a fan about the 1999 Minnesota game is a lot like asking “Where were you when 9/11 happened?”
So, what’s the point, Ventura? Well, it’s quite simple: This team cannot rest on its laurels, period. If they do, they WILL lose one of these last three games. Iowa may be coming off a loss to Illinois but they are still extremely dangerous because of their powerful running game and solid defense. Make no mistake about it: The Hawkeyes must be taken super-serially.
And don’t look now but Michigan State is in the hunt for a piece of the Big Ten title. Think playing the role of “potential spoiler” with regards to our national title bid is the only thing MSU will have to play for when they come to Happy Valley? Think again…
If the coaching staff is TRULY doing their jobs, then they should be showing the aforementioned videos over and over again to remind the players that if they let their guard down, they’re going to take one to the chin…