It was November of 1996, and I was still living back in my old hometown of Milwaukee. I was coming out of the gym and stopped with my wealthier friend who had the club membership in the lounge to watch some football and relax. In November '96, Bill Clinton had just been re-elected and Monica Lewinsky was an unknown White House intern. Joe Torre had just finished leading the Yankees to their first World Series title in 18 years. Yup, it seems like ages ago. That football game we watched that November afternoon was a Penn State thrashing of Michigan. It was the last time the Nittany Lions have beaten the Wolverines. Can they end the curse this week with UM reeling and PSU smelling a national title?
Jo-Ann Barnas of The Detroit Free Press reports that Lion fans are still fearful. And the Penn State fan featured in the photo two posts below wrote on his Facebook profile that he's not optimistic (then again this particular fan was probably nervous they wouldn't get past Coastal Carolina). But there really can be no excuses. Even with Ohio State next week. Even coming off a trashing of Wisconsin on the road. This Penn State team is too superior to this edition of Michigan, the game is in Happy Valley (4:30 EST, ESPN) and the UM brand name is still worth getting fired up for. Especially when you haven't beaten them in 12 years.
A better game is Ohio State's visit to East Lansing (3:30 EST, ABC). The beef of the schedule is hitting for Michigan State, but it's also the opportunity part of the schedule. Javon Ringer can break out of the slew of Big 12 quarterbacks currently overshadowing him for the Heisman if he can have a big game. He certainly has the attention of the folks in Columbus, as reported by Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch. But OSU should be able to move the ball on the Spartans. I look for this to be tight into the third quarter, and then for the Buckeyes to start to pull away. I think Tressel's team is too motivated for a chance at redemption and paradoxically, MSU's sound play early in the year has probably removed the "trap" element from the matchup.
In basketball news, Bob Knight told ESPN.com he'd be interested in coaching again given the right situation. Personally I'd love to see the General come back. Hard to see where he might fit into the Big Ten, but it would be great for college basketball if this legend, underappreciate for his soundness of character (as opposed to just his winning teams) got a chance to again coach at a school with a real shot at the Final Four.