|No. 14 Penn St. finally gets second shot at Irish after big loss|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 04 September 2007 12:28|
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -Thinking about last year's loss to Notre Dame made Penn State's Dan Connor cringe.|
The 41-17 score was bad enough for the linebacker, but the way the Nittany Lions stumbled to their worst loss of the 2006 season stuck out even more when Connor watched film of the game over the summer.
Finally, the 14th-ranked Nittany Lions (1-0) get their shot at redemption Saturday when Notre Dame visits Beaver Stadium.
``That stuck with the defense,'' Connor said Tuesday. ``We had an ugly game. We weren't on our assignments. To get another shot at them is something we've been looking forward to.''
Despite the anticipation, talk in Happy Valley on Tuesday stopped short of taking advantage of a Notre Dame team embarrassed by a 33-3 home loss to Georgia Tech last week.
``Notre Dame was good, solid,'' Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. ``When you look at them, don't look at the scoreboard.''
The Nittany Lions seem to be heeding their 80-year-old coach's advice about not giving the Irish any bulletin-board fodder for their trip east.
``We're not going to be very good anyway if we're that dumb,'' said Paterno, in his 42nd year at the Penn State helm. ``It's Notre Dame for crying out loud. They're not going to come in here with their tail dragging.''
Anxious Penn State fans, though, have been waiting for this rematch for months. Fumbles, missed assignments and a botched field-goal attempt doomed Penn State last year against the Brady Quinn-led Irish.
``Beat Notre Dame'' T-shirts are hot sellers in State College. People on eBay are trying to sell their tickets for as much as $500 per seat. The makeshift tent city called ``Paternoville'' has already sprouted on the sidewalk outside Beaver Stadium, filled with excited students.
``Paterno ... whatever they call that thing,'' the coach said inside the stadium. ``You know, where the tents are.''
And if there weren't enough hype in Happy Valley, Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis on Tuesday said heralded freshman Jimmy Clausen would make the first start of his collegiate career on Saturday in hopes of sprucing up a struggling offense.
Call it a baptism by fire for Clausen into the world of big-time college football, a night game on national television in front of 100,000-plus hostile fans.
``As a freshman, any time you come to a place like Penn State, it's going to be a challenge for you,'' said linebacker Tyrell Sales.
That, and the fact Penn State is not likely to change is approach that flustered Florida International's inexperienced quarterbacks in a 59-0 rout last week, is potentially bad news for Clausen.
``There's a lot of things you can do. You can just keep him guessing basically,'' Sales said. ``It's going to be his first time in a big game in a big atmosphere.''
Notre Dame and Penn State used to play meaningful games every year between 1981 and 1992, when both were independent powers.
The Irish fell off the schedule in 1993 when Penn State joined the Big Ten, before the schools met again last year in South Bend, Ind., for the start of a two-year series.
Notre Dame is making its first trip to State College since 1991, when the Nittany Lions won 35-13. That is also the last time Penn State won a game in a series led by Notre Dame, 9-8-1.
``It's probably unfortunate we aren't playing more,'' Paterno said. ``I like playing Notre Dame. I think it's fun. I like playing all these guys. Otherwise, what are you in it for?''
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