Not yet through September, Penn State fans were left wondering what exactly this team was capable of doing in the 1991 season. Opening with a convincing win over Georgia Tech–the 1990 national champions–in the Kickoff Classic, followed by an unprecedented demolition of Cincinnati 81-0 in the home opener, things got sketchy when a very bad USC team embarrassed the Nittany Lions 21-10 in the LA Coliseum. That must have thoroughly pissed off Penn State, because the following week, under the Beaver Stadium lights, the Nittany Lions crushed a very good BYU team 33-7 that was led by 1990 Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer.
The ship appeared to be righted. And with 0-4 Boston College on deck for a day game in Happy Valley, it was assumed Penn State would return to its non-USC form. But in typical Nittany Lions day-game-following-a-big-win fashion, it was not only a slow start and scary finish for Penn State, but also a sloppy contest wrought with penalties and stupid mistakes.
Penn State kicker Craig Fayak had one of his worst ever performances, missing several kicks and an extra point. That missed PAT led to Penn State trailing 7-6 at halftime, a deficit which garnered grumbling from the sidelines and the stands. Joe Paterno said at the half, “[Boston College] wanted it more than we did.” He was right, as the rest of the game would show. On two gigantic plays–a 56-yard touchdown run by 3rd string running back Shelly Hammonds and a 45-yard pick-six by All-American safety Darren Perry–Penn State would stretch its lead to 28-7 in the fourth quarter.
But as was the case all afternoon, Boston College would not go away easily, helped by Penn State’s lax discipline. On the afternoon, Penn State would our penalize its own running game, with 95 penalty yards to only 78 rushing. The Eagles scored two quick touchdowns late to bring the score to within one touchdown, 28-21. With the ball at the 17-yard line, Boston College had the chance to tie or win the game. It was just a tad bit stressful, I imagine.
*We told you LBU wasn’t completely going away. Tim and I will be posting all of our 10 Minutes or Less videos on Linebacker-U.com just as we always have.