Those Were The Days - Penn State

Sep 15, 2023

I was hoping that this would be a trip back to the 2007 game. But Detlef already wrote about that one. He tries to choose a different game each time he writes one of these, so this time, he chose a game from 12 years before I was born. Pete Elliot vs. Rip Engle. A late October game decided by a strong Champaign wind. The more things change....

Here's Detlef:

Illinois welcomes Penn State to Memorial Stadium for its Big Ten home opener! Illinois has not won many games against Penn State. However, today's tale recalls one of those wins. This game was so long ago that Joe Paterno was not the head coach of Penn State but an assistant coach! Those Were The Days! (Or not, depending on your views of Joe Paterno).

October 22, 1960: Pete Elliot's lads entered the game at 2-2, coming off two straight Big 10 losses to Minnesota and Ohio State. Rip Engle's boys also entered the game 2-2. Champaign welcomed the Nittany Lions, and I doubt anyone at that game (this includes you, Loren Tate) thought that someday, Penn State would be a conference rival of Illinois.

The game featured a strong wind that proved decisive in the outcome. In the first quarter, Penn State went into the wind. Their punter suffered a 27-yard punt that set up Illinois at the Nittany Lions 45-yard line. Illinois needed ten plays to score. Quarterback John Easterbrook (a Champaign native called "Tom Thumb" for being 5'8" and 158 pounds) pitched to Marshall Starks (Rockford West) for a three-yard touchdown. The drive also featured three passes to 6'3" 235 lbs. junior end Ed O'Bradovich (Proviso) for 32 yards. Gerald Wood (Mendota) converted the PAT.

Penn State again punted into the wind, this time for eleven yards! Illinois took over on the Penn State 30-yard line and marched down the field for a Wood 24-yard field goal to make it 10-0 in the first quarter. This turned out to be enough for the Illinois defense, along with the wind giving Penn State problems.

In the fourth quarter, with two minutes left, the Nittany Lions scored a consolation touchdown, going 75 yards in ten plays. Penn State made the two-point conversion for a 10-8 Illinois lead. Illinois recovered the onside kick and got the win. Interestingly, the two quarterbacks for Penn State were Galen Hall, a former Penn State assistant coach and former Florida head coach, and Dick Hoak, a longtime assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Illinois finished the season 5-4 overall, 3-4 in the Big Ten conference. Ed O'Bradovich went on to an NFL career with the Chicago Bears. His post-game Bears rants with my guy Doug Buffone (RIP) on the Score radio station were legendary!

Sources: "Illinois wins 10 to 8 over Penn State," by the Associated Press: October 23, 1960. Credit to Detlef's parents for the research.


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