My hatred of Michigan didn’t start until about 2005. Penn State was so awful in the 2003 and 2004 – the years I formally got introduced to Joe Paterno and his Nittany Lions (and no, those days weren’t fun) I didn’t particularly hate Michigan.
But in 2005, that all changed.
You know what I’m talking about: One foot on the line that should have been ruled out. An extra two seconds on the clock that meant Mario Manningham caught the winning touchdown. Goodbye, unbeaten record. Goodbye, National Championship.
Suddenly, every time a Michigan shirt reared its head, it got a "Screw You" from yours truly. I was spitting bullets. In fact, I am STILL spitting bullets.
Michigan had one of the best teams in the country and everyone darned well knew it when they walked into Beaver Stadium. That season, they might have dodged bullets, but this was a great team and it was undeniable.
On a ‘White Out’ the 17-10 scoreline was more a demonstration of the defensive skill of Lamar Woodley than anything else. Anthony Morelli and Darryl Clark both came off with head injuries on the same drive, and really, Morelli was never the same.
Earlier in the season, every student section and college football fan celebrated when Appalachian State beat Michigan on their own turf. We laughed. We high-fived. We –especially this writer in the UK – made long distance phone calls to friends and family round the country celebrating the biggest loss college football had – and ever will – see.
The stars were aligned for Penn State finally getting the monkey off their back and winning in the ‘Grande Maison’. But we didn’t. Michigan 14, Penn State 9. Sure, every holding call was always on the men in white not the maize and blue, and that wasn’t it: we were awful. Safe to say that the TV and computer screens nearly went out of the window, as well as the wife.
A weird year because we actually felt sorry for Michigan. September had come around and really, the State of Michigan had little to cheer for. The car industry was on life support, and thousands of people – from workers to admin staff- had lost their jobs. Springsteen wrote a song called “City of Ruin” about New York after 9/11. The collapse of the financial markets was simply yet another 9/11 for Detroit.
But after nine years of hurt, Penn State fans didn't care about the University of Michigan and the fact that their team sucked. We wanted blood. Losing 10-0, Nittany Nation must have been wondering what in the hell happened. The rest of the game was a 46-7 rout, and State College could celebrate.
Suddenly, it looks as though we’ve another reason to raise the finger to ‘Hail To The Victors’ and anyone wearing the Maize ‘N’ Blue: Michigan may well be back.
Despite close losses to Michigan State and Iowa – it’s obvious to anyone who knows a bit about college football that Rich Rodriguez is putting together a titan again. Tate Forcier’s an excellent quarterback. Denard Robinson – who won’t start after this year- will be an excellent wide receiver (!). The defense won’t matter because of a high-octane offense. Michigan could be exciting in the future.
But back to 2009. Penn State walk into the Big House after pitching a shut-out against Minnesota. Michigan crushed South Delaware State and put up 63 points and 700 yards of offense. Darryl Clark is looking poised at quarterback. Forcier and Robinson will share the duties for Michigan. Penn State has one of the best running backs in the game in Evan Royster, while Michigan can say the same in Brandon Minor. Michigan's defense is horrible, while Penn State's, well, isn't.
Fellow Penn Staters, the game at Ann Arbor is another reason to unite say those great words: "I. Hate. Michigan." Remember, every time Michigan loses, an angel gets its wings. I have a horrible feeling we won't see wings on Saturday. But then again, I always do when we play the maize and blue.