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On Top, Then Not The No. 1 Nittany Lions crushed the Buckeyes but failed to impress the AP pollsters, who dropped Penn State to No. 2, behind Nebraska

It had been a typical autumn in Columbus: The Midwestern air
turned brisk, leaves dropped from the trees, and Ohio State coach
John Cooper twisted in the wind for weeks. After unseemly losses to
Washington and Illinois and a narrow escape against Northwestern,
Cooper found himself, as he so often has, struggling to keep his job.
And this would not help: a trip to State College to play the 6-0
Nittany Lions.
But Cooper hadn't survived six seasons in Columbus by being a
pessimist. Instead of looking at Penn State as the unbeaten offensive
machine that had averaged 51.6 points in its first five games, Cooper
hoped his team would view the Lions as pretty much the same team that
Ohio State had dominated in 1993, winning 24-6 in the mud and snow at
the Horseshoe in Columbus.
In the week before this year's game, Cooper made believers of some
Buckeyes. ''We're not going up there thinking we don't belong on the
same field as them,'' said Ohio State quarterback Bobby Hoying.
''They're the same guys we beat last year.''
They may have been the same guys, but this year they were much,
much better players. The Penn State team that lost at Columbus in
1993 was still adjusting to Kerry Collins at quarterback and still
reeling from a 21-13 home loss to Michigan two weeks earlier. And the
Buckeyes were a different team then, too: They were deep and
experienced. This year's edition was young and tentative.
Any thoughts that history might repeat itself or that the Nittany
Lions would be coasting after reaching the No. 1 spot in the polls
two weeks earlier were quickly dismissed. Penn State led 35-0 at the
half, and by the time coach Joe Paterno yanked his starters near the
end of the third quarter, the Lions were up 49-6. At the finish, the
score was 63-14, the Buckeyes' fourth-worst loss in history. ''We got
beat by a great football team today,'' Cooper said humbly afterward.
''I don't see anybody beating them.''
The list of Penn State superlatives was as long as the Lions'
roster. Ki- Jana Carter rushed 19 times for 137 yards, Bobby Engram
caught six passes for 102 yards, and Collins, atoning for last year's
nightmarish 13-for-39, four-interception performance in Columbus,
completed 19 of 23 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns.
Penn State had emphatically proved that it was a very different
team. ''They embarrassed us last year,'' Lion linebacker Brian
Gelzheiser said after the game. ''We wanted to get their respect.''
- They got it from the Buckeyes -- but not from the voters in
the AP poll. Penn State's victory came on the same day that Nebraska
beat Colorado, and while the Lions could not have made a more
compelling case for staying atop the rankings, the Cornhuskers took
over the AP's No. 1 spot.