Saturday's matchup still has a lot of buzz
September 5, 2007 by Jeff Rice
UNIVERSITY PARK -- The tents are up in Paternoville. Tickets for Saturday's game, despite Notre Dame's 33-3 loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday, are still selling for hundreds of dollars on the Internet. ESPN will be here, as will what some believe could be a record Beaver Stadium crowd.
In other words, a game that has lost a bit of its luster in the past four days is still very much a big deal.
"There's just a buzz around campus," Penn State center A.Q. Shipley said of Saturday's 6 p.m. matchup between No. 14 Penn State and unranked Notre Dame. "Everyone's excited, and we're all getting phone calls from people trying to get tickets. It's definitely going to be an exciting game."
Penn State's 41-17 loss to Notre Dame last season was the most demanded ticket in Notre Dame Stadium's 77-year history. Before the season, Saturday's ticket was the most sought-after in the country, according to broker Ticketcity.com.
"I think we've had a good series with Notre Dame," Penn State coach Joe Paterno said during his Tuesday news conference in Beaver Stadium. "Hopefully, they have as much respect for us as we do for them We've had our days; Notre Dame's had its days. It's probably unfortunate that we're not playing more."
Notre Dame leads the all-time series 9-8-1. Before they met last season in South Bend, the Nittany Lions and Fighting Irish had gone 14 years without playing one another. But after Saturday, the series will halt again, with no immediate renewal in sight.
"I like playing Notre Dame," Paterno said. "I think it's fun. I like playing all these guys. Otherwise, what are you in it for?"
Time will tell
Notre Dame is one of the few remaining major football independents, a status Penn State held until it joined the Big Ten Conference in 1993. Paterno weighed the pros and cons of both sides of the conference line Tuesday.
"Is being a non-independent the best thing for Penn State? Yeah," Paterno said. "Was being a non-independent the best thing for Penn State football? I don't know."
Since the Nittany Lions joined the conference, only two schools (Michigan and Ohio State) have more Big Ten wins, but Penn State has won just two conference titles and finished higher than fourth just five times.
Still, Paterno believes the rest of Penn State's 28 varsity sports and the university as a whole made the right decision by joining the conference in 1990.
"I do know that for the whole program, it was a good move," Paterno said.
Asked if tight end Andrew Quarless, who was held out of the season opener against Florida International along with defensive back Willie Harriott for disciplinary reasons, would play Saturday, Paterno said: "I doubt it."
The coach added that when Quarless does return, he will have to beat out both Mickey Shuler, who caught four balls for 54 yards and a touchdown Saturday, and Jordan Lyons for the starting job.
Carolina on his mind
Yes, Paterno knows where Appalachian State is.
"I know it's located in Boone, N.C.," Paterno said. "I did my basic training back in Fort Bragg in 1945."
The Mountaineers beat then-No. 5 Michigan 34-32 in Ann Arbor on Saturday, vaulting themselves into the national spotlight. Paterno knew about coach Jerry Moore and his team, which has won two Division I-AA national championships, long before.
"Everybody that's involved in college football has to understand that there's an awful lot of great football kids that don't get to go to a place like Penn State or a Michigan or a Notre Dame who are out there," Paterno said. "And when they get a chance to prove how good they are, they rise to the occasion."
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