Welcome to Week 3 of the rewatch club, tonight at 7:30 it's Penn State and Oregon in the 1995 Rose Bowl. Check Ben_Jones88 on Twitter around that time for a link.
One of the most enjoyable things about covering a team in the Big Ten is the number of times you get to visit iconic stadiums.
Michigan (kind of underwhelming but still cool) Ohio State (very large but not as loud as it should be) and Beaver Stadium (loud, fun but a bit too commercial) all rank among the great arenas in the sport. Add in Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska and there isn't a shortage of must-visits on the schedule any given year. [As an aside Rutgers' stadium is cool, but also Rutgers]
I've been spoiled in that regard, taking White Outs for granted, large and disruptive crowds as normal and a stadium that holds 110,000 as only natural. The Big Ten East in particular has three of the sport's most iconic venues. At some point it all become a hodgepodge of things you've seen before, and the novelty wears off ever so slightly.
But I remember walking into the Rose Bowl a few years ago a feeling in awe. There are security guards keeping people from touching the grass that has been finely trimmed to exact specifications. Tucked away in the Pasadena hills, the Rose Bowl is historic, the sunsets as iconic as the games, the stands old but home to thousands of fans to have come before you.
Despite growing up in State College I didn't grow up around Penn State football, I was aware of it and I would be lying if I said I never watched it on my own, but without ties to the university it didn't resonate the same way as it does others in town.
I remember the 1994 season in the way that you very vaguely have memories of things that happened when you were five. I remember Ki-Jana Carter bursting though the hole and scoring on Penn State's first play of the Rose Bowl, but I didn't have any grasp of what it meant for Penn State to be undefeated or the ongoing drama with Nebraska over who should be considering the national title winner.
Back in what was technically early 2017, that was the first time I really felt the power of a great stadium I had never visited before. If I was in charge of everything the first thing I would do is make sure every major college football game was played at the Rose Bowl. There is simply nothing better than the start of the third quarter as the sun sets and the magnitude of moment begins to settle in. I've covered games at Madison Square Garden, feet from the action, but sitting high above the Rose Bowl is unlike anything else. A White Out is an incredible scene, but the Rose Bowl is an emotion you can reach out and touch. Every Rose Bowl is history, every play the potential to be remembered forever.
I don't keep an actual list of these things, but I would estimate that the 2017 Rose Bowl is the best sporting event I've ever seen in person relative to stakes, drama, scoring and counterpunches. It had everything. It was incredible theater in front of a crowd split down the middle, living and dying on every play.
Everyone has watched that game again. I have and I didn't even care who won. The 1994 Rose Bowl though (or technically the 1995 Rose Bowl given the date) hasn't gotten dug out of the archives in a long time.
And I've actually never seen it.
So here goes nothing.