Penn State Nittany Lions football

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Penn State Nittany Lions football
2014 Penn State Nittany Lions football team
Penn State Nittany Lions.svg
First season 1887
Athletic director Sandy Barbour
Head coach James Franklin
Home stadium Beaver Stadium
Stadium capacity 106,572
Stadium surface Grass
Location State College, Pennsylvania
Conference Big Ten
Division East
Past conferences Independent (1887-1992)
All-time record 842–370–42 (.688)
Postseason bowl record 27–15–2 (.636)
Claimed national titles 2 (1982) (1986)
Conference titles 4 (PIFA 1891, Big Ten 1994, 2005, 2008)
Heisman winners 1
Consensus All-Americans 39

Blue and White

Fight song Fight On, State
Mascot Nittany Lion
Marching band Penn State Blue Band
Rivals Ohio State Buckeyes
Michigan Wolverines
Pittsburgh Panthers
Temple Owls

The Penn State Nittany Lions football team represents the Pennsylvania State University in college football. The Nittany Lions compete in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision as a member of the Big Ten Conference, which they joined in 1994 after playing as an Independent from their founding through 1993.[1][2][3]

Established in 1887, the Nittany Lions have achieved on-field successes that include national championships in 1982 and 1986, a Big Ten Conference Championship in 1994, and 44 appearances in postseason bowl games. Penn State plays its home games at Beaver Stadium, located on-campus in University Park, Pennsylvania. With an official seating capacity of 106,572, Beaver Stadium is the second-largest stadium in the western hemisphere, behind only Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The team is currently coached by James Franklin.


Early history (1887-1917)[edit]

Penn State played its first game in 1887,[4] but had no head coach for their first five years from 1887-1891.[4] They compiled a 12–8–1 record in these seasons, playing as an independent from 1887-1890 and then joined the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Football Association in 1891 for its only season[4] and won the conference with a 6–2 record, 4–1 in conference play.[4]

George Hoskins, Penn State's first head football coach

George W. Hoskins was the first head football coach in Penn State football history.[5] He posted a 17–4–4 record in his four seasons from 1892-1895 as head coach, and his .760 winning percentage ranks highest in program history.[5] His first team played its home game on the Old Main lawn on campus in State College, Pennsylvania, before the 500-seat Beaver Field opened in 1893.[5]

He was succeeded by Samuel B. Newton,[6] who posted a 12–14 (.462) record in three seasons, 1896-1898.[7]

Sam Boyle coached for only one year in 1899 and compiled a 4–6–1 record (.409).[8]

Pop Golden coached the Nittany Lions for three seasons from 1900-1902, tallying a record of 16–12–1 (.569).[9]

Daniel A. Reed took over for the 1903 season and went 5–3 (.625).[10]

Tom Fennell coached the Nittany Lions for five seasons from 1904-1908, posting a 33–17–1 (.657) record.[11] It was during this era that the school adopted the Nittany Lion mascot in 1907.[12]

Bill Hollenback took over the Nittany Lions as head coach for the 1909 season and went undefeated at 5–0–2,[13] but left for Missouri for 1910.[14] Bill's older brother Jack Hollenback took over for the 1910 season and went 5–2–1 (.688),[15] but Bill returned to Penn State for 1911-1914.[16] Bill went 23–9–2 in his second tenure for a combined record of 28–9–4 (.732).[13] In 1911 and 1912, his teams went 8–0–1 and 8–0 and were awarded retroactive national championships by the National Championship Foundation which are recognized by the NCAA.[13]

Head coach Dick Harlow brought a new form of defense, trying to go in-between or around offensive blockers rather than try to overpower them.[17] Harlow's Nittany Lions compiled a 20–8 (.714) record in his three seasons (1915-1917)[18] and was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach for his accomplishments.[17]

Hugo Bezdek years (1918-1929)[edit]

Hugo Bezdek was Penn State's head football coach for 12 seasons[19] and was the Nittany Lions' first athletics director.[20] Bezdek posted a 65–30–11 record,[19] which included two undefeated seasons and a berth in the 1922 Rose Bowl, a game they lost.[19] Bezdek's Nittany Lions posted a losing record in only two of Bezdek's seasons, going 1–2–1 in 1918 and 3–5–1 in 1928.[19] Bezdek retired after the 1929 season and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1954.[21]

Bob Higgins years (1930-1948)[edit]

Coach Higgins

Bob Higgins returned to his alma mater and served as Penn State's head football coach for 19 seasons.[22] He compiled a 91–57–11 overall record, which included 11 winning seasons and only five losing seasons.[23] Higgins' 1947 team tied SMU in the Cotton Bowl.[24] Higgins was forced to retire due to poor health following the 1948 season.[25] He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1954.[26]

Joe Bedenk (1949)[edit]

For one season, Joe Bedenk, also a Penn State alum, served as the Nittany Lions' head football coach.[27] He was promoted from offensive line coach after the retirement of his predecessor.[28] Bedenk posted a 5–4 record in his 1949,[29] his lone season as head coach, before requesting to return to his previous post as offensive line coach.[30]

Rip Engle years (1950-1965)[edit]

Rip Engle came to Penn State from Brown.[31][32] Engle posted a 104–48–4 record during his 16 season tenure as head coach and developed a game known as Angleball as a way for his players to maintain fitness in the off-season.[32][33] Engle never had a losing season at Penn State, and his 5–5 final season was his only non-winning season.[34] His 1959 and 1960 Nittany Lions teams won the Liberty Bowl, while his 1961 and 1962 teams reached the Gator Bowl, winning the first and losing the second.[35] Engle retired following the 1965 season and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1973.[36]

Joe Paterno era (1966-2011)[edit]

Coach Paterno

Penn State assistant Joe Paterno was promoted to head coach following the retirement of Engle.[37] Paterno spent 46 seasons as the Nittany Lions head football coach, the longest tenure of any FBS head coach and 16 more as an assistant, making his 62 total years coaching at Penn State the most of any coach at any school.[38] Under Paterno, Penn State played as an Independent from 1966-1992,[39] and continued to coach them when they joined the Big Ten Conference in 1993-2011.[40] He also served as Penn State's athletics director from 1980-1982. His final record is 298–136–3 (111 wins, all from 1998-2011, were vacated as punishment for the Penn State sex abuse scandal).[41] Paterno's Nittany Lions won national championships in 1982 and 1986,[42] posted non-losing records in all seasons but one,[43] and appeared in 37 bowl games with 24 wins (6 vacated by NCAA).[44] Paterno's teams also won the Orange Bowl in 1968, 1969 and 1973 (2005 was vacated),[45] the Fiesta Bowl in 1977, 1980, 1981, 1986, 1991 and 1996,[46] and the Sugar Bowl in 1982.[47] During Paterno's tenure, Penn State's athletics program, after a century as a Division I-A independent, joined the Big Ten Conference in June 1990.[48] Beaver Stadium was expanded six times during Paterno's tenure. Paterno was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006, and was a major reason why the longtime rule of waiting until retirement to be inducted into the Hall of Fame was changed to any coach over 75 years of age.[49] Players such as Kerry Collins, Charlie Zapiec, Matt Millen, Shane Conlan, Jack Ham, Dennis Onkotz, Franco Harris, Greg Buttle, Keith Dorney, John Cappelletti, Curt Warner, Larry Johnson, LaVar Arrington, and Ted Kwalick played collegiately for Joe Paterno.[50] Paterno won numerous coaching and sportsman honors during his long run at Penn State.[51][52]

Paterno was the winningest FBS head football coach in history and one of the most revered figures in college sports until the Penn State child sex abuse scandal involving longtime assistant and once heir-apparent Jerry Sandusky.[53] The scandal resulted in Paterno's firing in November 2011[53][54] and the loss of all wins from 1998-2011, dropping Paterno from first to twelfth on the all-time wins list.[55] Paterno's statue outside Beaver Stadium was also taken down.[56] Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley finished out the 2011 season as interim head coach after Paterno's ouster.[57]

Bill O'Brien (2012-2013)[edit]

Coach O'Brien

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien was hired as the 15th head football coach in Penn State history, taking over the scandal-ridden Nittany Lions football program in January 2012.[58] Early in O'Brien's tenure, the NCAA sanctioned Penn State with a four-season postseason ban and a loss of 40 scholarships due to the child sex abuse scandal.[59] O'Brien posted an 8–4 record in his first season as head coach of the Nittany Lions,[60] a much better record than most anticipated.

O'Brien's 2013 Nittany Lions team posted a 7–5 record in the second of four years they were ineligible for the postseason.[61] In January 2014, Bill O'Brien left Penn State to accept the head coaching position with the NFL's Houston Texans.[62]

James Franklin (2014-present)[edit]

On January 11, 2014, Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin was hired as the 16th head football coach in Penn State history.[63] He is the first African American to serve in that capacity.[64]

Current coaching staff[edit]

Position Name First Year Alma mater
Head Coach James Franklin[65] 2014 East Stroudsburg (1994)
Defensive Coordinator/Safeties Bob Shoop[66] 2014 Yale (1988)
Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends John Donovan[67] 2014 Johns Hopkins (1997)
Linebackers/Assistant Head Coach Brent Pry 2014 Buffalo (1993)
Running Backs/Special Teams Coordinator Charles Huff[66] 2014 Hampton (2005)
Quarterbacks/Passing Game Coordinator Ricky Rahne[66] 2014 Cornell (2002)
Wide Receivers/Offensive Recruiting Coordinator Josh Gattis 2014 Wake Forest (2006)
Cornerbacks/Defensive Recruiting Coordinator Terry Smith 2014 Penn State (1991)
Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator Herb Hand 2014 Hamilton College (1990)
Defensive Line Sean Spencer 2014 Clarion (1995)
Strength and Conditioning Dwight Galt 2014 Maryland



"Nittanyville" is the name attributed to the student tradition of camping out in front of Beaver Stadium prior to a home football game. Each week before a home game, students camp out in front of the stadium in order to hold their positions in line for front-row seats. Football players, the Blue Band, local food vendors and even the coaching staff frequently visit Nittanyville, pepping up the students as game days draw near. Nittanyville is governed by the student-run Nittanyville Coordination Committee.[68] The tradition was established during the 2005 football season, when students began setting up tents and "camping" in front of Beaver Stadium one week before the game with rival school Ohio State on October 8.[69] Nittanyville was originally known as "Paternoville," in honor of the head coach Joe Paterno, but the name was changed in light of the child sex abuse scandal.[70]

Success with Honor[edit]

Joe Paterno was widely known for his "grand experiment" in which he challenged his players to be successful both on the field and in the classroom. In 2011, the Nittany Lion football team posted an 87% graduation rate, tied with Stanford for No. 10 overall among the nation's 120 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institutions, above the national average of 67%.[71]

The June 2012 conviction of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on multiple counts of child sexual abuse and the alleged cover up of the incidents as part of the Penn State sex abuse scandal marred the "Success with Honor" image.[72] President Rodney Erickson, athletics director Dave Joyner, and head football coach Bill O'Brien, all of whom accepted their jobs in the wake of the scandal, have made statements in which they express commitment to maintaining integrity at the university and within the athletics programs.[73]

In 2012, a group of alumni and supporters established a non-profit organization (501.c.3 and registered trademark) that will build upon the “Success with Honor” motto. Their mission is to promote and support charitable endeavors as well as to inspire others to “Get in the Game.” Success with Honor is a Social Network Community that has identified more than 60+ charities. Success with Honor helps individuals to identify and connect with causes they’d like to volunteer their skills, time, and/or money to. Similarly, SWH assists charities in finding individuals to meet their current needs.[74]


The team is widely noted for their simple game uniforms. They only wear white pants, and the jerseys are simple blue for home games, and white for away games.[75] The team is only allowed to wear simple black Nike shoes with white calf socks for game days, though blue tights are permitted underneath the white socks for cold weather games. The helmet is white with a blue stripe down the center, and a blue on white "Penn State" sticker covers up the forehead helmet logo. No team logos, conference logos, numbers, or other stickers are permitted on the helmet, though two Nike logos are on facemask visors that some players choose to wear. Penn State has started to wear bowl decals only starting with 1997 Fiesta Bowl. Before that, Penn State always declined the decals so they can play out of their simple game uniforms. The blue and white uniforms replaced pink and black ones in 1890.[76]

The uniforms became even simpler for the 2011 season, as the white cuffs and collars on the home jerseys and the corresponding blue cuffs and collars on the road jerseys were eliminated, leaving the jerseys solid blue and white, respectively.

In 2012 Penn State started wearing names on their uniforms for the first time as a way to note the players who stuck with the school through the scandal and a blue ribbon in support the victims of child abuse.[77]

In 2013 the Nittany Lion logo was added to the base of the jersey collar along with the Big Ten logo on the right side of the jersey.


Captains are chosen by the team, with the head coach's approval. Being named a captain is an honor almost always given to a senior, but there are some notable exceptions: Linebacker Sean Lee was named a captain in the beginning of Spring practice in 2008, the beginning of his 4th year with the team. However, he suffered a torn ACL during spring practice, redshirted in 2008, and returned as a captain again in 2009. The most recent example of a "true" junior being named was Paul Posluszny, who was named a captain in both 2005 and 2006, his junior and senior years, respectively. The last time a junior was named captain before Posluszny was in 1968, when Steve Smear and Mike Reid were named captains during their junior years.[78] In 2014, Christian Hackenberg became the first true sophomore to be named team captain.[79]

Linebacker U[edit]

Penn State is often referred to as Linebacker U for its reputation of producing outstanding linebackers.

  • Dennis Onkotz was a two-time All American in 1968 and 1969, and played on two undefeated teams.[80]
  • Jack Ham finished his career with 251 tackles, blocked two punts, and went on to play on two undefeated teams. Ham later went on to the NFL, playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[80]
  • Charlie Zapiec a fourth round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys, went on the star in the Canadian Football League as a linebacker with the Montreal Alouettes coached by future NFL Legend Marv Levy. Charlie switched from Offensive Guard his senior years where he also achieve All-American Honors; in the 2 years he started as a Guard and the one year as a Linebacker he accumulated 34 wins, including 3 Major Bowl victories, while suffering only one loss - the best record for a starter in Penn State History.
  • Edward William O'Neil, an American football coach and former professional linebacker, played seven seasons in the National Football League (NFL). From 1970–1973, he played linebacker for coach Joe Paterno at Penn State. A three-year letterman, he was team captain of the Nittany Lions' undefeated 1973 team and was named an All-American that same season.
  • Greg Buttle was a linebacker during the 1973–1975 seasons, finishing with 305 tackles in his junior and senior year. He was drafted by the New York Jets and is a part of the All Jet team.
  • Shane Conlan was a two-time All-American and defensive MVP of the 1987 National Championship Fiesta Bowl. He was drafted No. 1 by the Bills in 1987, named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and was named to three straight Pro Bowls (1988–90).[80]
  • Lavar Arrington finished with 319 career tackles and 139 tackles for losses. He was later drafted 2nd overall by the Washington Redskins.[80]
  • Cameron Wake went on to capture MVP honors for the British Columbia Lions in the Canadian Football League before moving on to the Miami Dolphins and leading the National Football League in sacks during the 2010 season.[81]
  • Tamba Hali was the 20th overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft and led the AFC in sacks during the 2010 NFL season helping the Kansas City Chiefs reach the playoffs. He played Defensive End during his college career.[81]
  • Paul Posluszny played from 2003–2006. Posluszny won the Dick Butkus Award in 2005 and the Chuck Bednarik Award in 2005 and 2006. He finished with 372 tackles, and was drafted by the Buffalo Bills.[80]
  • Dan Connor finished his career as the all-time leading tackler for Penn State with 419 and was drafted by the Carolina Panthers.[80]
  • Sean Lee, graduating Penn State in 2009, is now starting inside linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys.[81]
  • NaVorro Bowman, drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round of the 2010 draft, ranked 7th in the league in tackles in 2011[82] and was named an AP first team All-Pro for his 2011 campaign.
  • Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges were "Co-Linebacker U" in 2012, both achieved over 95 tackles and both were drafted by the Minnesota Vikings.[83][84]

Penn State child sex abuse scandal[edit]

The Penn State child sex abuse scandal centered on former Pennsylvania State University football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's sexual assault of at least eight underage boys on or near university property. After an extensive grand jury investigation, Sandusky was indicted on 52 counts of child molestation dating from 1994 to 2009, though the abuse may date as far back as the 1970s.[85] The trial of Jerry Sandusky on 52 charges of sexual crimes against children started on June 11, 2012, at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania[86][87] and ended on the evening of June 22, 2012, when the jury found Sandusky guilty on 45 of the 48 counts against him.[88][89]

Several high-level school officials were charged with perjury,[90] suspended, or dismissed for allegedly covering up the incidents or failing to notify authorities. In the wake of the scandal, school president Graham Spanier was forced to resign, and head football coach Joe Paterno was fired late in the season, while Sandusky maintained his innocence.[91]

Former FBI director Louis Freeh, whose firm was hired by the Penn State Board of Trustees to conduct an independent investigation into the scandal, concluded, after interviewing over 400 people and reviewing over 3.5 million documents, that Paterno, Spanier, Curley and Schultz had "repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the Board of Trustees, Penn State community, and the public at large."[92][93][94] In an interview conducted by Showtime's 60 Minutes Sports, the former Chief Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Frank Fina, who investigated and prosecuted Jerry Sandusky, stated that he found no evidence that Joe Paterno participated in a cover-up.[95]

On July 23, 2012, NCAA announced that it had fined the Penn State football program $60 million, levied a four-year ban from bowl games and vacated all of the program's 112 wins from 1998 to 2011. They were originally scheduled to lose 10 scholarships from the incoming classes in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, which would have been a loss of 40 total scholarships. They were set to have a maximum of 75 players on scholarship in 2013, then be down to 65 total scholarships for 2014, 2015 and 2016, before increasing back up to 75 in 2017 and return to a the full allotment of 85 scholarships for the 2018 season.[96]

However, on September 24, 2013, the NCAA announced they were restoring 25 of the 40 scholarships to Penn State after realizing they overreacted. After losing 10 scholarships from the 2013-2014 incoming class (they only brought in 15 players instead of the normal 25) and only having 75 total players on scholarship, Penn State will have five scholarships added back for 2014-15, so they can bring in 20 new players and have 80 total players on scholarship. They will be back up to the full complement of 25 new players and 85 total scholarships restocked for 2016-17, two years ahead of schedule. So in total they will have only lost 15 scholarships, compared to the original penalty of 40 scholarships. As unprecedented as the crippling sanctions were when they were imposed on Penn State, the easing up is perhaps just as unprecedented, as the NCAA has never reduced a penalty.[citation needed]

The NCAA’s executive committee unanimously approved giving back the scholarships after a recommendation from former U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell, who was appointed by the NCAA to oversee Penn State’s progress in adopting a number of reforms to enhance its security, ethics, governance and compliance structure. NCAA officials said they took up the recommendation because the restored scholarships would benefit student-athletes.[97]

In September 2014, the NCAA announced that Penn State would be eligible for the 2014 postseason and all scholarships restored in 2015.[98]

Notable seasons[edit]

Perfect seasons[edit]

Penn State has had seven undefeated, untied seasons in its history since the program started in 1887:


National championships[edit]

Penn State has won two consensus national championships, both under Joe Paterno's tenure as coach.

Year Coach Selector Record Bowl
1982 Joe Paterno AP, Coaches 11–1 Won Sugar
1986 Joe Paterno AP, Coaches 12–0 Won Fiesta
Total National Titles 2

Other national championships selections:

1911 • (National Championship Foundation)

1912 • (National Championship Foundation)

1969 • (Foundation for the Analysis of Competitions and Tournaments, Massey Ratings)

1981 • (Dunkel System, Loren Maxwell, Soren Sorenson, The Fleming System)

1994 • (Billingsley Report, DeVold, Foundation for the Analysis of Competitions and Tournaments, Massey Ratings, Matthews Grid Ratings, National Championship Foundation, New York Times, Sagarin Ratings)

The suite boxes on the east side of Beaver Stadium, with the highlighted years (undefeated and championship seasons) added in 2006

Conference championships[edit]

Penn State played as an independent from 1887 through 1890.

On September 26, 1891, the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Football Association (PIFA) was formed. The PIFA consisted of Bucknell, Dickinson, Franklin and Marshall, Haverford, Penn State and Swarthmore. Penn State won the championship with a 4–1–0 PIFA record losing only to Bucknell (Bucknell's record was 3–1–1). The PIFA dissolved prior to the 1892 season.

Penn State then played as an independent again until joining the Big Ten Conference in 1990 and beginning play in 1993. Penn State then won its first Big Ten championship in 1994. Two other titles in 2005 and 2008 were vacated July 23, 2012 by the NCAA as a sanction in response to the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.

Season-by-season records[edit]

Coaching history[edit]

Coach Years Seasons Record Pct. Cnf. Record Pct. Cnf. Titles Bowls Nat. Titles
No coach 1887–1891 5 12–8–1 .595 1
George Hoskins 1892–1895 4 17–4–4 .760
Samuel Newton 1896–1898 3 12–14–0 .462
Sam Boyle 1899 1 4–6–1 .409
Pop Golden 1900–1902 3 16–12–1 .569
Daniel A. Reed 1903 1 5–3–0 .625
Tom Fennell 1904–1908 5 33–17–1 .657
Bill Hollenback 1909, 1911–1914 5 28–9–4 .732
Jack Hollenback 1910 1 5–2–1 .688
Dick Harlow 1915–1917 3 20–8–0 .714
Hugo Bezdek 1918–1929 12 65–30–11 .665 1
Bob Higgins 1930–1948 19 91–57–11 .607 1
Joe Bedenk 1949 1 5–4–0 .556
Rip Engle 1950–1965 16 104–48–4 .680 4
Joe Paterno 1966–2011 45 409-136–3
3 (*1) 37 2
Tom Bradley 2011-2012 <1 1–3 (*0-3) .250 (*.000) 1-2 (*0-2) .333 (*.000) 1
Bill O'Brien 2012-2013 2 15-9 .625 10–6 .625
James Franklin 2014-


1887–2013 127 842–370–42
4 (*2) 44 2[100]

Note: Records and winning percentiles in parentheses with asterisks are those accepted by the NCAA. Wins were removed by the NCAA in the wake of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal.

Bowl history[edit]

Penn State has earned invitations to 44 bowl games. The Nittany Lions have compiled a bowl record of 27–15–2 (0.636), including a 14–6–1 (0.667) record in the major bowls (Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, and Cotton), however 6 bowl victories, including the 2006 Orange Bowl, were vacated by the NCAA.[101]

Coach Joe Paterno was responsible for most of these bids and victories, compiling more appearances (37) than any other coach in college football history en route to his bowl record of 24-12–1 (0.662), but 6 of those wins were vacated by NCAA sanctions. Paterno also has a record of 14–5–0 (0.737) in "major" bowls and is the only coach to have won all five major college bowls during his career.

By year[edit]

Season Bowl Coach Opponent Result
1922 Rose Bowl Hugo Bezdek USC L, 3-14
1947 Cotton Bowl Classic Bob Higgins SMU Tied, 13-13
1959 Liberty Bowl Rip Engle Alabama W, 7-0
1960 Liberty Bowl Rip Engle Oregon W, 14-12
1961 Gator Bowl Rip Engle Georgia Tech W, 30-15
1962 Gator Bowl Rip Engle Florida L, 7-17
1967 Gator Bowl Joe Paterno Florida State Tied, 17-17
1968 Orange Bowl Joe Paterno Kansas W, 15-14
1969 Orange Bowl Joe Paterno Missouri W, 10-3
1971 Cotton Bowl Classic Joe Paterno Texas W, 30-6
1972 Sugar Bowl Joe Paterno Oklahoma L, 0-14
1973 Orange Bowl Joe Paterno Louisiana State W, 16-9
1974 Cotton Bowl Classic Joe Paterno Baylor W, 41-20
1975 Sugar Bowl Joe Paterno Alabama L, 6-13
1976 Gator Bowl Joe Paterno Notre Dame L, 9-20
1977 Fiesta Bowl Joe Paterno Arizona State W, 42-30
1978 Sugar Bowl Joe Paterno Alabama L, 7-14
1979 Liberty Bowl Joe Paterno Tulane W, 9-6
1980 Fiesta Bowl Joe Paterno Ohio State W, 31-19
1981 Fiesta Bowl Joe Paterno USC W, 26-10
1982 Sugar Bowl Joe Paterno Georgia W, 27-23
1983 Aloha Bowl Joe Paterno Washington W, 13-10
1985 Orange Bowl Joe Paterno Oklahoma L, 10-25
1986 Fiesta Bowl Joe Paterno Miami (FL) W, 14-10
1987 Citrus Bowl Joe Paterno Clemson L, 10-35
1989 Holiday Bowl Joe Paterno BYU W, 50-39
1990 Blockbuster Bowl Joe Paterno Florida State L, 17-24
1991 Fiesta Bowl Joe Paterno Tennessee W, 42-17
1992 Blockbuster Bowl Joe Paterno Stanford L, 3-24
1993 Citrus Bowl Joe Paterno Tennessee W, 31-13
1994 Rose Bowl Joe Paterno Oregon W, 38-20
1995 Outback Bowl Joe Paterno Auburn W, 43-14
1996 Fiesta Bowl Joe Paterno Texas W, 38-15
1997 Citrus Bowl Joe Paterno Florida L, 6-21
1998 Outback Bowl Joe Paterno Kentucky W, 26-14*
1999 Alamo Bowl Joe Paterno Texas A&M W, 24-0*
2002 Capital One Bowl Joe Paterno Auburn L, 9-13
2005 Orange Bowl Joe Paterno Florida State W, 26-23 (3OT)*
2006 Outback Bowl Joe Paterno Tennessee W, 20-10*
2007 Alamo Bowl Joe Paterno Texas A&M W, 24-17*
2008 Rose Bowl Joe Paterno USC L, 24-38
2009 Capital One Bowl Joe Paterno LSU W, 19-17*
2010 Outback Bowl Joe Paterno Florida L, 24-37
2011 TicketCity Bowl Tom Bradley Houston L, 14-30
Games: 44 Wins: 21
(Excluding 6 wins that were vacated)
Losses: 15 Ties: 2
  • =win vacated as a result of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal

By game[edit]

Bowl # Appearances Record
Alamo Bowl 2 1999, 2008 2–0
Aloha Bowl 1 1983 1–0
Blockbuster Bowl 2 1990, 1993 0–2
Citrus Bowl/Capital One Bowl 5 1988, 1994, 1998, 2003, 2010 2–3
Cotton Bowl Classic 3 1948, 1972, 1975 2–0–1
Fiesta Bowl 6 1977, 1980, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997 6–0
Gator Bowl 4 1961, 1962, 1967, 1976 1–2–1
Holiday Bowl 1 1989 1–0
Liberty Bowl 3 1959, 1960, 1979 3–0
Orange Bowl 5 1969, 1970, 1974, 1986, 2006 4–1
Outback Bowl 4 1996, 1999, 2007, 2011 3–1
TicketCity Bowl 1 2012 0–1
Rose Bowl 3 1923, 1995, 2009 1–2
Sugar Bowl 4 1972, 1976, 1979, 1983 1–3



Penn State has a commanding 35–1–1 lead in the Maryland–Penn State football rivalry series that, due to the lopsidedness of the series, can hardly be called a rivalry. These two opponents first played in 1917, and all but three years between 1960 and 1993 was played, but the series has remained inactive since. There were inconclusive negotiations between the schools for a revival from 1993 to 2013.[102] However, in 2014 Maryland will join the Big Ten Conference and be in the Eastern Division with Penn State, renewing the rivalry on an annual basis.

Michigan State[edit]

Since 1993, Penn State played Michigan State for the Land Grant Trophy. Michigan State currently holds possession of the trophy after winning the 2010 contest. Michigan State has a 5–4 record in these trophy games. Penn State held a 14-13-1; Beginning with the league's expansion and new division format in 2011, the two teams were in different divisions and did not play annually, however this rivalry will renew in the 2014 season and continue yearly as they will both be in the Big Ten's Eastern Division.


The Nittany Lions taking the field against Minnesota in 2005.

Since 1993, Penn State has played Minnesota for the Governor's Victory Bell sporadically in their Big Ten schedule. Penn State led 8–5 against the Golden Gophers after the last contest in which Minnesota won 24-10 in 2013.

Due to the latest changes in the Big Ten's scheduling procedures, the rivalry will be held approximately two times every seven years starting in 2014; this will change to three times every seven years when the Big Ten adds another conference game effective 2016. Penn State will next play Minnesota in the 2016 football season.


The teams played a series of games before Penn State joined the Big Ten, most notably in the early 1980s. The high point of the rivalry was an epic battle in week three of 1982 season. Nebraska came to Happy Valley ranked #2; Penn State was ranked No. 8 at the time. After Nebraska had scored to take the lead with a minute remaining, Todd Blackledge led the Lions down the field. Penn State won the game with a touchdown as time expired, and went on to win the National Championship. The series was renewed briefly in 2002–03 after a 19-year gap (during which in 1994, Nebraska and Penn State finished 1–2 in both major polls). From the 2011 to 2013 seasons, Penn State and Nebraska played yearly as cross-division rivals. But Penn State will not play Nebraska again until 2017 due to the loss of cross-division rivals with the expansion of the Big Ten in 2014. Nebraska beat Penn State in the first game since joining the Big Ten conference, the weekend that immediately followed the firing of legendary head coach Joe Paterno.[103] Penn State is currently 7–9 all-time versus Nebraska, although one of those wins has been vacated by the NCAA. The struggle continues.[104]

Ohio State[edit]

Ohio State and Penn State first played in 1912, but until 1993 when Penn State joined the Big Ten conference, the Ohio State–Penn State football rivalry was infrequent. Including their last non-conference meeting in the 1980 Fiesta Bowl, the series was 6–2 in favor of Penn State before the Big Ten established the two teams as designated conference rivals playing annually starting in 1993.[105] Penn State trails the overall series 13–16 and is 7–14 in conference play, although 5 of these wins have been vacated by the NCAA.[106]

Penn State is 6–10 at Ohio Stadium (the 1912 game was played at its predecessor, Ohio Field) and after a 13-6 win in 2008, Penn State had broken a seven-game away losing streak at Ohio Stadium that had been held since 1975. Penn State is 5–6 against Ohio State in Beaver Stadium, including a memorable come-from-behind win in 2001 to give Joe Paterno his 324th win, passing Bear Bryant for the lead in career victories among FBS head coaches.[106][107]

A couple of meetings have determined the conference champion.[108] Of the 29 games they played, 11 have been determined by 7 points or less, 16 games by 14 points or less. Penn State has shut out Ohio State three times but all occurred prior to Penn State joining the Big Ten, while Ohio State has never held Penn State below six points.[106] Due to the nature of the rivalry, a large number of games between the two teams are night games.[108]


The Pitt-Penn State rivalry is a currently dormant series between in-state rivals Penn State and Pittsburgh. Once considered the fiercest and most important college football rivalry north of the Mason-Dixon line, this rivalry was first played in 1893 when Penn State won 32–0. The most recent game in the series was played in 2000 with Pitt winning 12-0 over Penn State at Three Rivers Stadium. Penn State holds a 48–42–4 record in the series [109]

Of the 96 games played between the two, 72 have been held in Pittsburgh. Twenty-two have been played in State College. Two games, in 1900 and 1901, were played in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

Pitt and Penn State are scheduled to renew their rivalry with a 4-game home-and-home series starting in 2016 and continuing through 2019. The first and third games of the series will be played at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, in 2016 and 2018, with the second and fourth games taking place in 2017 and 2019 at Beaver Stadium in State College.


With the exception of 1943, Penn State and Syracuse played every year from 1922 through 1990. However, the Penn State–Syracuse football rivalry became dormant when Syracuse joined the Big East Conference and Penn State joined the Big Ten.

The rivalry was briefly renewed when the teams agreed to a two-game home-and-home series for 2008 and 2009, in which Penn State won both games (these wins were later vacated by the NCAA). The two teams then played in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ in the 2013 football season where Penn State won 23-17. Penn State holds an official 41–23–5 record in this series with their last official win occurring on August 31, 2013. The rivalry will next be renewed when the schools are scheduled to play a two-game home-and-home series in the 2020 and 2021 football seasons.[110][111][112]


Penn State has been playing Temple frequently since 1931. Temple has not beaten Penn State since 1941, and Penn State holds a 38–3–1 record in the series after last defeating Temple 24-13 at Beaver Stadium in 2012.[113][114] The series will resume in 2014 and continue every season through at least 2016.[115] Penn State has a 30-game winning streak over Temple, which is currently the longest active opponent vs. opponent winning streak in college football.

West Virginia[edit]

First played in 1904, Penn State and West Virginia played every year from 1947 to 1992. The Penn State–West Virginia football rivalry has been renewed in a home and home series to be played in State College in 2023 and Morgantown in 2024. Penn State leads the series 48–9–2.[116]

Individual award winners[edit]



Other awards[edit]

Current NFL Players[edit]

There are currently 32 Penn State football players playing in the National Football League:[130]

Player Team Position
NaVorro Bowman San Francisco 49ers Linebacker
Brett Brackett Free Agent Tight End
Levi Brown Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Tackle
Deon Butler Free Agent Wide Receiver
Dan Connor Carolina Panthers Linebacker
Jack Crawford Oakland Raiders Defensive End
Robbie Gould Chicago Bears Place kicker
Tamba Hali Kansas City Chiefs Linebacker
Josh Hull Washington Redskins Linebacker
Dennis Landolt Free Agent Offensive Tackle
Sean Lee Dallas Cowboys Linebacker
Aaron Maybin Cincinnati Bengals Linebacker
Derek Moye Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver
Jordan Norwood Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wide Receiver
Jared Odrick Miami Dolphins Defensive End
Rich Ohrnberger Arizona Cardinals Guard
Paul Posluszny Jacksonville Jaguars Linebacker
Chaz Powell Free Agent Safety
Andrew Quarless Green Bay Packers Tight End
Michael Robinson Seattle Seahawks Fullback
Evan Royster Washington Redskins Running Back
Bryan Scott Buffalo Bills Linebacker
Tim Shaw Tennessee Titans Linebacker
A.Q. Shipley Baltimore Ravens Center
Mickey Shuler Oakland Raiders Tight End
Devon Still Cincinnati Bengals Defensive Tackle
Nathan Stupar Jacksonville Jaguars Linebacker
Andrew Szczerba Atlanta Falcons Tight End
Johnnie Troutman San Diego Chargers Guard
Cameron Wake Miami Dolphins Linebacker
Stefen Wisniewski Oakland Raiders Guard
Matt McGloin Oakland Raiders Quarterback

College Football Hall of Fame inductees[edit]

Including former head coach Joe Paterno, 22 Nittany Lion players and coaches have been selected for the College Football Hall of Fame.[131]

Name Position Year inducted
Hugo Bezdek Coach 1954
John Cappelletti Halfback 1993
Shane Conlan Linebacker 2014
Keith Dorney Offensive tackle 2005
Rip Engle Coach 1973
Jack Ham Linebacker 1990
Dick Harlow Coach 1954
Bob Higgins Coach 1954
Glenn Killinger Quarterback 1971
Ted Kwalick Tight end 1989
Richie Lucas Quarterback 1986
Pete Mauthe Fullback 1957
Shorty Miller Quarterback 1974
Lydell Mitchell Running back 2004
Dennis Onkotz Linebacker 1995
Joe Paterno Coach 2007
Mike Reid Defensive tackle 1987
Glenn Ressler Center/guard 2001
Dave Robinson End 1997
Steve Suhey Guard 1985
Dexter Very End 1976
Curt Warner Halfback 2009
Harry Wilson Halfback 1973

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees[edit]

Penn State is one of 11 schools with five or more inductees in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[132]

Name Position NFL team(s) Year inducted
Jack Ham Linebacker Pittsburgh Steelers 1988
Franco Harris Running back Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks 1990
Mike Michalske Guard Green Bay Packers 1964
Lenny Moore Flanker/running back Baltimore Colts 1975
Mike Munchak Guard Houston Oilers 2001
Dave Robinson Linebacker Green Bay Packers 2013

Future schedules[edit]

Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result
09/05/2015 at Temple[133][134]* Lincoln Financial FieldPhiladelphia, PA    
09/12/2015 Buffalo* Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
09/19/2015 Rutgers Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
09/26/2015 San Diego State* Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
10/03/2015 Army* Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
10/10/2015 Indiana Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
10/17/2015 at Ohio State Ohio StadiumColumbus, OH (Ohio State - Penn State rivalry)    
10/24/2015 at Maryland M&T Bank StadiumBaltimore, MD (Maryland-Penn State football rivalry)    
10/31/2015 Illinois Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
11/07/2015 at Northwestern Ryan FieldEvanston, IL    
11/21/2015 Michigan Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
11/28/2015 at Michigan State Spartan StadiumEast Lansing, MI (Land Grant Trophy)    
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. #Rankings from Coaches' Poll released prior to game. All times are in Eastern Time.
Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result
09/03/2016 Kent State* Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
09/10/2016 at Pittsburgh* Heinz FieldPittsburgh, PA (Penn State-Pittsburgh football rivalry)    
09/17/2016 Temple[133]* Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
10/01/2016 Minnesota Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA (Governor's Victory Bell)    
10/08/2016 Maryland Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA (Maryland-Penn State football rivalry)    
10/15/2016 at Michigan Michigan StadiumAnn Arbor, MI    
10/22/2016 Ohio State Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA (Ohio State-Penn State football rivalry)    
10/29/2016 at Purdue Ross-Ade StadiumWest Lafayette, IN    
11/05/2016 Iowa Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
11/12/2016 at Indiana Memorial StadiumBloomington, IN    
11/19/2016 at Rutgers High Point Solutions StadiumPiscataway, NJ    
11/26/2016 Michigan State Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA (Michigan State–Penn State football rivalry)    
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. #Rankings from Coaches' Poll released prior to game. All times are in Eastern Time.
Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result
09/02/2017 Akron* Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
09/09/2017 Pittsburgh* Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA (Penn State-Pittsburgh football rivalry)    
09/16/2017 Georgia State* Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
09/30/2017 Indiana Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
10/07/2017 at Northwestern Ryan FieldEvanston, IL    
10/14/2017 at Iowa Kinnick StadiumIowa City, IA    
10/21/2017 Michigan Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
10/28/2017 at Ohio State Ohio StadiumColumbus, OH (Ohio State-Penn State football rivalry)    
11/04/2017 at Michigan State Spartan StadiumEast Lansing, MI (Land Grant Trophy)    
11/11/2017 Rutgers Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
11/18/2017 Nebraska Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
11/25/2017 at Maryland Byrd StadiumCollege Park, MD (Maryland-Penn State football rivalry)    
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. #Rankings from Coaches' Poll released prior to game. All times are in Eastern Time.
Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result
09/08/2018 at Pittsburgh* Heinz FieldPittsburgh, PA (Penn State-Pittsburgh football rivalry)    
09/22/2018 at Illinois Memorial StadiumChampaign,IL    
09/29/2018 Ohio State Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
10/13/2018 Michigan State Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
10/20/2018 at Indiana Memorial StadiumBloomington, IN    
10/27/2018 Iowa Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
11/03/2018 at Michigan Michigan StadiumAnn Arbor, MI    
11/10/2018 Wisconsin Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
11/17/2018 at Rutgers High Point Solutions StadiumPiscataway, NJ    
11/24/2018 Maryland Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. #Rankings from Coaches' Poll released prior to game. All times are in Eastern Time.
Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result
09/14/2019 Pittsburgh* Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA (Penn State-Pittsburgh football rivalry)    
09/28/2019 at Maryland Byrd StadiumCollege Park, MD    
10/05/2019 Purdue Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
10/12/2019 at Iowa Kinnick StadiumIowa City, IA    
10/19/2019 Michigan Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
10/26/2019 at Michigan State Spartan StadiumEast Lansing, MI    
11/09/2019 at Minnesota TCF Bank StadiumMinneapolis, MN    
11/16/2019 Indiana Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
11/23/2019 at Ohio State Ohio StadiumColumbus, OH    
11/30/2019 Rutgers Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. #Rankings from Coaches' Poll released prior to game. All times are in Eastern Time.
Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result
09/05/2020 vs. LSU* TBA •    
09/19/2020 at Syracuse[135]* Carrier DomeSyracuse, NY    
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. #Rankings from Coaches' Poll released prior to game. All times are in Eastern Time.
Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result
09/18/2021 Syracuse[135]* Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA    
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. #Rankings from Coaches' Poll released prior to game. All times are in Eastern Time.
Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result
09/17/2022 at Virginia Tech* Lane StadiumBlacksburg, VA    
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. #Rankings from Coaches' Poll released prior to game. All times are in Eastern Time.
Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result
09/02/2023 West Virginia* Beaver StadiumState College, PA    
09/16/2023 Virginia Tech* Beaver StadiumState College, PA    
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. #Rankings from Coaches' Poll released prior to game. All times are in Eastern Time.
Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result
08/31/2024 at West Virginia* Mountaineer FieldMorgantown, WV    
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. #Rankings from Coaches' Poll released prior to game. All times are in Eastern Time.

Charity and awareness efforts[edit]

The Penn State football team has worked in coordination with Uplifting Athletes, a non-profit organization, to raise awareness and funds for the Kidney Cancer Association. In 2003 the team turned their annual weight-lifting competition into a fund-raiser when a player’s father was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer. The event that is now known as Lift for Life, has raised more than $225,000 since its inception.[136]

Penn State football radio affiliates[edit]


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External links[edit]