The last time Penn State won in Columbus was 1978.
I remember the game clearly: As a senior writing for The Daily Collegian, I had a field pass and stood on the Penn State sidelines.
I remember the deafening roar of Ohio Stadium, which at that point held 88,000-plus - the biggest crowd ever to see a Penn State game,
And I remember how a Nittany Lion defense, led by Bruce Clark and Matt Millen, Larry Kubin and Lance Mehl, Rick Donaldson and the late Pete Harris, pitched a 19-0 shutout.
It was Ohio State's opener. The Buckeyes were coming off a trip to the Sugar Bowl behind quarterback Rod Gerald, but Woody Hayes unveiled a freshman starter at quarterback that day, an Ohio protege named Art Schlichter, and moved Gerald to receiver.
Schlichter was overwhelmed, Matt Bahr kicked four field goals, the Lions stuffed a running game led by Ron Springs, and Penn State used the game - its third of the season - as a springboard to the '78 national championship game against Alabama.
Since that trip to the Horseshoe, though, Ohio State hasn't been such a friendly host.
Interestingly, when Hayes and the Buckeyes were winning national championships and dominating the Big Ten, and Eastern football was getting no respect, Penn State had its way in Columbus.
Rip Engle went unbeaten there, winning three times, including a 27-0 pasting of the No. 2 Buckeyes in 1964.
Ohio State wouldn't even dignify a return trip until Hayes agreed to play a 2-for-1 and made an appearance at Penn State - his only one - in 1976.
Hayes went 2-4 against Penn State - 2-1 vs. Joe Paterno - but it's been a much different story since the Lions joined the Big Ten.
Since 1993, JoePa hasn't won in Columbus, going 0-7 in the Horseshoe against John Cooper and Jim Tressel, and the Nits have been smacked there just about every time.
Paterno, though, has had a gleam in his eye this week as Penn State, 8-0 and No. 3 in the national polls, has its best chance to pull off a win in Columbus.
Maybe that's why Paterno could not be drawn into a nostalgic conversation about the '78 game.
"To be honest, I couldn't tell you about the last time we won there," he said. "1978 ... was that (Art) Schlichter's year?"
Paterno has more important things on his mind as tonight's game is among the biggest of the Paterno Era and the biggest since late in the the 1997 season, when the Lions, then 7-0 and ranked No. 2, hosted No. 4 Michigan and were slapped 34-8 at Beaver Stadium.
There are some similarities between tonight and the Lions' last successful trip to Columbus. One is the presence of Ohio State's freshman quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, though, unlike Schlichter, he's not making his collegiate debut.
Earlier this week, Paterno didn't sound like he's expecting to see last year's Buckeye starter who tore up the Lions, Todd Boeckman, but don't be surprised if Tressel pulls some trickery and makes PSU defend Pryor as a flanker, too.
The other similarity is the Nittany Lions, as was the case in 1978, are thinking big.
Unlike '78, you can't expect a shutout and unlike '78, it likely will take more than 19 points to win.
No matter the formula, 30 years and seven Big Ten losses later, it seems about time.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He'll respond to brief comments and questions in Gameday.