Penn State Final Prediction

After a week of analyzing and picking apart the Nittany Lions and finding the spark that will lead this team back to the top of the college football world, the day of reckoning has arrived. Who's the winner in this edition of the Penn State-Miami backyard brawl?

With kickoff at 8 p.m., well over 100,000 rabid Nittany Lions fans will spit fire directed at Larry Coker and his troops. In 1986, at a Fiesta Bowl activity, the Hurricanes entered in fatigues, claiming the coming match-up with the "overrated" Nittany Lions meant war. The idea backfired, but Coker may want to think about bringing back some of that old flavor. He may need it.

Adam Taliaferro, the man who teammates have dubbed the "miracle boy" will confidently walk across the field wearing the mystical blue and white no. 43 once again. With a little waive to the crowd, the Lions contingent erupts, commencing World War three in State College. Miami, welcome to the jungle!

Simply put, Miami has everything to lose and Penn State everything to gain in this match-up of super powers.

This Lions squad has little respect. But, a blue-collar unit that just wants to go out and hit people can't wait for the showdown to start. Quarterback Matt Senneca could easily play outside linebacker for the Lions. You just can't teach that kind of toughness. It's a state of mind Ken Dorsey may need to acquire to survive the onslaught. No matter how many times the Hurricanes plant Senneca into the plush Beaver Stadium turf, he'll laugh in their face, throw a touchdown pass the next play, and return to the sidelines without showboating because he's a team player. He's a no frills guy, a throwback to how Penn State quarterbacks have long played the game.

Paterno will likely stand stoic on the sidelines, his pants hiked up, bearing those black Nike turf shoes. He'll pace back and forth, jawing at Fran Ganter about play calling and snapping at Tom Bradley because Joepa preferred a different defensive set. That's just part of the show.

Across the field, Coker will wonder why a football stadium would need to be so large and why corporate boxes are necessary on a college campus facility. You aren't in Florida anymore, Coker. There's only one football school in this state. Coker will frantically ask why Jimmy Kennedy keeps charging quarterback Ken Dorsey from the middle. He'll scratch his head every time Michael Haynes comes around the end and grabs the ankle of a running back from behind.

Linebacker Shamar Finney, eyeing Dorsey all day, takes his chance at a pick and seizes the opportunity. Meanwhile, Bruce Branch handcuffs Hurricanes receiver Daryl Jones, a speedster on defense only because playing time at wide receiver in Happy Valley diminished.

With the evils of night setting in, the Lions keep the game close into the fourth quarter, much to the dismay of an overly cocky Miami team, hell-bent on playing one half and relaxing during the other. Senneca takes the field one more time with a mountain of real estate between his team and the upset of the early college football season. He fires a strike to Eddie Drummond, a shifty wideout who scurries upfield for 10 yards after the catch. The ball sits on the Lions own 45-yard line. Like a normal Paterno team, two draws fail up the middle, leaving third down to a team desperately needing a pick-up after a year of heartache.

Senneca drops back, looking middle and finding John Gilmore, thanking the good lord that Dan Morgan has since graduated as the tight end rumbles and stumbles into Miami territory. The ball sits on the Hurricanes 35-yard line. With only seconds remaining on the clock, Coker smiles, knowing the Lions have trained a new kicker in the off season. Sophomore David Kimball booted field goals and extra points sparingly during his freshman season but boomed kickoffs week after week. Now, the State College native awaits the snap to enter the annals of Penn State heroes in the rivalry between the Hurricanes and Nittany Lions. There, Pete Giftopoulos camps in the center of the field, ready to catch the fifth pick off the fingertips of Vinny Testaverde in the '87 Fiesta Bowl. Chafie Fields races down the sidelines after pulling in Kevin Thompson's pass leading the future of Penn State football his direction.

The kick is up… and it's good! The Penn State Nittany Lions have ceremoniously upset the Miami Hurricanes and have thrown a wrench into the works of more national title aspirations. 23-20, the Lions win in another barnburner within the confines of Beaver Stadium. Paterno's dedication to his players prevails in this matchup of class versus inexperience.

Brian K. Hall is a sports editor for "The Collegian" – Penn State's official newspaper – as well as a full time PSU student. Check out the latest news on the Nittany Lions at or send all comments and correspondence to Brian at

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