April 19, 2010

10 Minutes Or Less: 1995 Texas Tech at Penn State

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I realized I had an impossible act to follow from the previous 10 Minutes Or Less segment, thus the most logical choice was to do a video recap of the first game in the post-Kerry Collins/Ki-Jana Carter/Kyle Brady era. I'm talking of course, about the 1995 season opener against a Texas Tech team that resembled nothing like the Texas Tech everybody knows today (i.e. Mike Leach, Playstation offenses, pirates, and locking up spoiled brats with a sense of entitlement in closets). Back then, Texas Tech was a program wallowing in mediocrity, coming off a 6-6 season in 1994, which included being on the wrong end of a pure massacre laid upon them by USC in the Cotton Bowl. Naturally, a trip to Happy Valley in front of 96,000+ fans and facing a PSU team coming off an undefeated Rose Bowl season, trying to defend the nation's longest win streak at the time (17 games) was just what the doctor ordered.

Virtually nobody felt the Red Raiders stood a chance, as evidenced by the fact they were a three touchdown underdog...well, nobody except a worried JoePa who during the week of the game kept warning the media and fans that his team wasn't ready. Of course, everyone else dismissed the concerns as typical JoePa speak, as praising the opponent was a weekly ritual of his during press conferences. Suffice it to say, everyone else was in for a ride they didn't expect...

The offense struggled to find its rhythm, which led to the announcers repeating ad nauseam about how Collins, Carter, and Brady weren't around anymore. New quarterback Wally Richardson struggled mightily throwing the ball in a disastrous first half that featured three fumble recoveries by Texas Tech, each of them being attributable to Bobby Engram, and each of them leading to Red Raider touchdowns. Before anyone could soak it in, Tech had a 20-7 lead going into the locker room. Only through a near-perfect second half performance did PSU manage to escape, as the defense tightened up by only allowing a field goal, and Richardson completed all but one of his 12 passes: Most of them to Engram, who deserves the utmost praise for his unshakable confidence after arguably his worst half ever as a Penn Stater.

Still, the game came down to Brett Conway having to nail a 39-yard field goal with eight seconds left and PSU trailing 23-21. Despite having missed from 49 and 37 yards earlier, Conway was widely regarded as a clutch kicker and he showed exactly why by nailing the kick that mattered the most. I don't recall much from when I actually attended this game but one thing I clearly remember was the cheering after Conway's kick resembled something more along the lines of 'exasperated relief' than actual jubilation. It also proved to be a stark reminder to Texas Tech of how a missed extra point can come back to bite you in the ass, since we all know how much the football gods don't take kindly to underdogs who can't do the little things...

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  1. Ah, Wally I so miss him. Lol.

  2. I believe this was my junior year up at University Park, and I swore more during this game than any other. Well, except for Illinois '94.

    Anyway, these are great.

  3. @Scrappled - Thanks.
    @Galen - Wally was my first experience in witnessing the true nature of PSU fans when it comes to supporting backup quarterbacks (i.e. plenty of calls for Mike McQueary to start).
    @Kevin McGuire - Here's a little info on what happened to the CFA. http://ideas.repec.org/p/van/wpaper/0320.html

  4. That was my first game. Two things stick in mind:

    Zebbie Lethridge giving the Penn State defense fits

    "Wally Richardson's pass to Bobby Engram is incomplete"

    The latter is burned in my brain forever, I'm afraid.

  5. The Wally way: plant one heel, lean backward, turn head away from intended receiver, hurl ball down-field, hope for the best... Luckily, Engram was that intended receiver.

  6. anyone notice after the second td pass to hanspard curtis ennis came flying into the endzone if u look closely number 39, i believe this was his first game at psu playing lb until he was switched to rb a few games later

  7. @Tommmay98 - You are correct, sir. Enis played linebacker his first few games as a Nittany Lion before switching to tailback. I'm sure that missed tackle on Hanspard helped to fuel his switch.