Rich Rodriguez's lone win against Penn State one to remember, plus Michigan football injury report
Rich Rodriguez holds an unenviable record when it comes to facing Joe Paterno.
As a head coach, Rodriguez has lost his only two games against the Nittany Lions’ coaching legend. As a player at West Virginia, he lost his first three games against Penn State before winning his senior season.
That lone triumph, which came in 1984, was one to remember.
West Virginia hosted its first night game in history. The Mountaineers hadn’t beaten Penn State since 1955, but anticipation ran high that they’d have a chance in Morgantown.
“It was a crazy crowd,” Rodriguez said Wednesday while talking about Michigan's upcoming road game at Penn State (8 p.m. Saturday, ESPN).
West Virginia clung to a three-point lead late in the fourth quarter. Penn State drove down the field, and looked poised to either the game or take the lead. But WVU’s Larry Holley intercepted Penn State’s John Shaffer with 35 seconds remaining to seal a 17-14 win.
Fans stormed the field and tore down a goal post. With 35 seconds still on the clock, Paterno waved off the remaining time and congratulated the Mountaineers on the win in a visit to their locker room.
“The town went crazy after that,” Rodriguez said. “For us that were seniors, that had endured three years of losing and many years before that, beating Penn State was one of the goals we had.”
It wasn’t only beating Penn State that was special. It was beating Paterno.
“What he means to college football, and the class he’s exhibited through the years, you just know he has a great respect for college football,” Rodriguez said. “Any time you can get a win over him is something special.”
Injury report Freshman Devin Gardner will travel to Penn State this weekend and function as the Wolverines’ emergency quarterback if something happens to starter Denard Robinson and backup Tate Forcier.
But Gardner’s still not yet fully recovered from a sore back.
“We hope he feels better as the week goes on,” Rodriguez said.
Defensive tackle Mike Martin and center David Molk, who are recovering from ankle sprains, expect to be ready to play against the Nittany Lions. Running back Fitzgerald Tousssaint (shoulder) remains out.
Rodriguez disclosed Wednesday that running back Michael Cox has had “a knee issue” for the past few weeks, and that his growth and practice has been limited.
Pete Bigelow covers Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at (734) 623-2556, via email at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.