Calvin Lowry told himself that if he had another chance, he’d create a big play.
He did, and he did.
First, the setup: Penn State and Ohio State were battling in what turned out to be one of the most memorable games in Beaver Stadium history — the 2005 White Out. The Buckeyes were ranked No. 6, with the Nittany Lions No. 16. A win would likely catapult Penn State toward a Big Ten championship and possible national title.
Pretty high stakes.
Penn State led 7-3 a little more than five minutes into the second quarter, when Lowry experienced a case of deja vu. Only this time with a different result.
He picked off Buckeye quarterback Troy Smith on third and long on the Buckeyes’ side of the field, nearly returning the pick for a touchdown. He was tackled a few yards short of the goal line, and Penn State scored a few plays later.
“That interception, they had run that play earlier in the game,” Lowry said. “I had seen it and I had been one step short of making the play previously. I talked myself into it: ‘If it happens again, I’m going to make that play.’ Ultimately it happened. I saw it, it kind of slo-moed (slow-motion), if people could believe that. Then, being five yards short of returning it for a touchdown was the biggest hiccup I had. I would’ve loved to have seen how loud the stadium really could have got if I ran that in there.”
You can check out the video above for an abbreviated version of the game, with Lowry’s interception starting around the 4:30 mark.
The Nittany Lions won 17-10 en route to winning the Big Ten, narrowly qualifying for the Rose Bowl (where USC and Texas played for the national title), and ended the highly successful season with a marathon victory in the Orange Bowl, defeating Florida State in triple overtime.
The 2005 White Out edition of The Football Letter noted the second-largest Beaver Stadium attendance of 109,839 and featured photos of students camping outside the stadium in tents and Joe Paterno firing up fans at Rec Hall on Friday, at an event aptly titled, “Rally in the Valley” hosted by the Blue & White Society, the student membership of the Alumni Association.
The positive vibes flowed before and after the game, with editor John Black leading off that game’s edition of The Football Letter by writing:
“From the students camping out in what they called ‘Paternoville’ to the Friday night Rally in the Valley to the Saturday morning ESPN Game Day show (where Penn State fans jeered Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit for picking Ohio State) to the midnight wrap-up (where they chanted ‘Say You’re Sorry’), it was an All-Penn State Weekend.
Lowry spoke about the game, recalling vivid details and how much confidence the team had, especially coming off of the 2004 season, when they had the last-minute goal-line stand against Indiana and a blowout win over Michigan State.
Even though they were ranked lower, the Nittany Lions came into the game with a 5-0 record (the Buckeyes were 3-1), leading into one of the contests routinely mentioned when ranking the biggest games in Beaver Stadium history.
What continues to stand out the most about the atmosphere that night to Lowry?
“How loud it was,” he said.
“Conversations that we usually had defensively with each other on the field, we weren’t allowed to do that. It was so loud that it definitely played a factor in that game. They were sixth, we were sixteenth coming into that game, College Game Day was there, it was just one of those (games) that spring boarded us the rest of our season to accomplish one of the goals that we wanted to accomplish, which was be Big Ten champions; secondly try to get to the national championship. We fell one step short, but we finished it up with a BCS bowl game.”
Lowry recalled Ohio State having “tremendous talent all over the place,” when discussing the defense’s approach to shutting down the Buckeyes, and when you add in everything else, it’s no surprise that Lowry succinctly remarked, “It was one of those prototypical night primetime games.”
That description perfectly describes this Saturday’s tilt with Ohio State, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. on ABC. We’ll be tuning in like everyone else.
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