The dust is settling on the recent conference realignment frenzy, but there are new questions to be addressed in the upcoming months, one of which involves new Big Ten member Nebraska. Specifically, questions loom with rivalry games and that’s not just with Nebraska, but other schools like Penn State.
The Big Ten features a handful of natural rivalry games, as most conferences do. Ohio State and Michigan plus Purdue and Indiana are just a few examples.
Where would the Huskers fit in?
While many would push for Wisconsin or Iowa to step in and be a natural rival for Nebraska in college football, the best choice would be Penn State.
It makes sense for the Nittany Lions to pair with Nebraska. This is not just because these schools are the newest members to the conference (11th and 12th teams, respectively).
Penn State and Michigan State currently face off in the last game of the regular season every year – specifically for the Land Grant Trophy.
Trophy or not, this rivalry has always been forced.
Penn State’s faithful could care less about Michigan State. The intent is not to be a cold statement. The natural conference rivals for the Nittany Lions are teams like Ohio State and Michigan – and now, Nebraska, too.
Penn Staters do not like Nebraska – in fact, they loathe them.
This hatred has been brewing for 16 years now – dating back to 1994.
The Nittany Lions had a powerhouse team that year. This was a Penn State team that deserved to have a share of the National Championship. BCS critics should research the 1994 season, when Penn State didn’t get a chance to fight for the title.
Instead, it came down to a bowl game – and then a final vote.
Penn State, loaded with a lethal offense featuring players like QB Kerry Collins and RB Ki-Jana Carter, faced Oregon in the Rose Bowl, while Nebraska took on Miami in the Orange Bowl.
Each team cruised to victory, with the Nittany Lions defeating the Ducks 38-20 and the Cornhuskers knocking off Miami 24-17.
The votes were tallied and the heartbreak began to settle in.
Nebraska would be the national champs – and Penn State didn’t even get a share.
Since then, the hatred has been brewing.
A small sampling of that frustration diminished during Penn State’s 40-7 victory over a hapless Huskers team in 2002.
But not nearly enough.
Joe Paterno would likely state multiple reasons for Penn State’s rivalry with Nebraska, but the 1994 season alone makes these two schools a natural fit for a rivalry, no matter what anyone says – and with that, a new trophy should be born – where each year, the Nittany Lions and Cornhuskers can fight for that 1994 national title.
Sparty can keep all the land he wants – and consider this a petition for a Nebraska vs. Penn State game at the end of each football season – starting in the year 2012.
For now, welcome to the Big Ten, Huskers fans.
It’s going to be a wild ride, so fasten your seat belts.
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