|Penn State renews Syracuse rivalry|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 12 September 2008 08:05|
``I came to Penn State back in 1950. It was a big rivalry for us, Penn State and Syracuse,'' Paterno said. ``We've had some great football games with Syracuse through the years, and they've always had some great backs going back to Jimmy Brown. And Ernie Davis was a class kid.''
A series that began when Warren Harding was in the White House gets rekindled Saturday when Paterno and his Nittany Lions visit the Orange.
The schools met every season except one from 1922-90, but the series ended when the Big East was formed and Penn State joined the Big Ten. Today, the programs are headed in opposite directions. Penn State is unbeaten after two games and ranked No. 17; Syracuse is the butt of jokes, no longer the force it once was.
igan Stadium and easily beat Tom Brady and the defending national champions.
Since Greg Robinson succeeded Paul Pasqualoni as coach before the 2005 season, Syracuse is 7-30. The Orange (0-2) have lost six straight dating to last November and have the 111th-ranked defense in the nation after allowing nine touchdowns and 962 yards in losses at Northwestern and at home to Akron.
All of that has placed Robinson in dire jeopardy of losing his job before the end of his contract next year. The Syracuse alumni association has traditionally steered clear of personnel matters, but as the losses have mounted in the past two years, members of the organization have urged the university to make a coaching change.
And now Robinson has to prepare for a Penn State team intent on winning its first road game of the young season and improving its 40-23-5 edge in the series.
``It's real important,''' Robinson said. ``It's an opportunity for our program. Penn State might be the most talented team we've played since I've been here. I think the players are up for the challenge. It is important for the team to show well.''
Is it ever.
1961 became the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy. Before Saturday afternoon's kickoff, the university will unveil a statue of Davis, who died of leukemia in 1963 at age 23.
``Before practice, coach Paterno talked about how big this game is from their standpoint, a lot of people there, famous people,'' Penn State safety Anthony Scirrotto said. ``It's going to be a packed house, very loud. It's going to be exciting. We're looking forward to something new. We haven't been there in a while.''
Penn State is coming off a 45-14 victory over Oregon State. Behind the running of Evan Royster (career-high 143 yards) and the passing of Daryll Clark (14-for-23 and two TDs), the Nittany Lions gained 454 yards against the Beavers, exhibiting almost perfect balance with 239 yards rushing and 215 passing.
In losing 42-28 last week to Akron, Syracuse fell behind 14-0, rallied behind quarterback Cam Dantley's three touchdown passes to tie the game at 28-all early in the fourth quarter, and then fell apart again on defense. The Zips finished with 260 yards passing and 218 rushing, and they're no Penn State.
Still, Paterno hasn't won 374 games in his long career by taking teams lightly. The message has been sent.
``They've been harping on us each and every day that we don't take this game lightly. It's the first trip on the road, it's going to be hostile. On the road, you have to match their intensity and execute.''
Paterno didn't play pass-rushing end Maurice Evans or fellow starting defensive lineman Abe Koroma against Oregon State because of an unspecified off-field issue and hasn't yet said when they would play next.