Taking a look back at a game Ohio State played on this date:

Penn State 31, Ohio State 27

Setup: Coming off a thrilling Rose Bowl win over Arizona State, Ohio State entered 1997 with what looked to be a high-powered offense (names you know: Stanley Jackson, Joe Germaine, David Boston, Pepe Pearson, among others) and a young, suspect defense. Five wins to open the season propelled the Buckeyes to No. 7 in the polls, but a major test awaited in State College, Pennsylvania, against No. 2 Penn State.

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Stars: Germaine was spectacular with a 378-yard passing effort that still ranks No. 2 in program history, and both Boston (14 catches for 153 yards) and Dee Miller (eight for 149) topped 100 yards receiving. But the Nittany Lions' hard-charging ground game led by Curtis Enis (211 yards on 23 carries) and fullback Aaron Harris (96 yards) won the day.

Turning point: Ohio State trailed 10-0 early but rebounded to take a 27-17 lead late in the third quarter on Pearson's 8-yard scoring run. But Penn State came right back with an 80-yard drive capped by Harris' 51-yard TD run with 20 seconds left in the quarter, then took the lead for good on a 26-yard downhill run by Enis with 10:31 remaining in the game.

Impact: Ohio State won its next five games to climb back into the top five, but a 20-14 loss to top-ranked Michigan sent the Buckeyes to the Sugar Bowl, where Florida State laid a whuppin' on them that likely still makes Germaine wince in pain.

Quotable: "They've either got the two toughest running backs in the country to tackle or that's one of the worst exhibitions of tackling you've ever seen." — frustrated OSU coach John Cooper

rstein@dispatch.com