2004 Penn State Nittany Lions football team

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2004 Penn State Nittany Lions football
Penn State text logo.svg
Conference Big Ten Conference
2004 record 4–7 (2–6 Big Ten)
Head coach Joe Paterno (39th year)
Offensive coordinator Galen Hall
Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley
Home stadium Beaver Stadium
(Capacity: 107,282)
← 2003
2005 →
2004 Big Ten football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
#8 Iowa +   7 1         10 2  
#14 Michigan $+   7 1         9 3  
#17 Wisconsin   6 2         9 3  
Northwestern   5 3         6 6  
#20 Ohio State   4 4         8 4  
Purdue   4 4         7 5  
Michigan State   4 4         5 7  
Minnesota   3 5         7 5  
Penn State   2 6         4 7  
Illinois   1 7         3 8  
Indiana   1 7         3 8  
  • $ – BCS representative as conference champion
  • + – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll

The 2004 Penn State Nittany Lions football team represented the Pennsylvania State University in the 2004 NCAA Division I-A football season. The team's head coach was Joe Paterno. It played its home games at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania.


The spring saw some changes to the coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Fran Ganter was named the new Associate Athletic Director for Football Administration, after 37 years as a player and coach for Penn State. Former Penn State quarterback Galen Hall joined the coaching staff as the new offensive coordinator and running backs coach. Mike McQueary, another former Penn State quarterback, joins the staff as the wide receivers coach and will also serve as the recruiting coordinator.[1]

In addition to the coaching changes, head coach Joe Paterno had his contract extended through the 2008 football season, despite having had three losing seasons in the past four.[2]

Last season's second-leading receiver Maurice Humphrey was expelled from school and convicted of three counts of simple assault. He would not play another down for Penn State. Humphrey's expulsion created a void of experience at the wide receiver position. Senior Gerald Smith was the most experienced receiver, and he had only 15 catches in 2003.

Prior to the season, Zack Mills and Derek Wake were elected team co-captains by their teammates.[3]

Penn State started the season unranked in both the AP and the Coaches college football preseason polls.

Recruiting class[edit]


Penn State did not play Big Ten teams Illinois and Michigan this year.

Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result Attendance
September 4 3:30 p.m. Akron* Beaver StadiumUniversity Park, PA ESPN+ W 48–10   98,866
September 11 8:00 p.m. at Boston College* Alumni StadiumChestnut Hill, MA ABC L 7–21   44,500
September 18 12:00 p.m. UCF* Beaver Stadium • University Park, PA ESPN+ W 37–13   101,715
September 25 5:45 p.m. at No. 20 Wisconsin Camp Randall StadiumMadison, WI ESPN L 3–16   82,179
October 2 8:00 p.m. at No. 19 Minnesota Hubert H. Humphrey MetrodomeMinneapolis, MN (Governor's Victory Bell) ESPN+ L 7–16   50,386
October 9 4:30 p.m. No. 10 Purdue Beaver Stadium • University Park, PA ESPN L 13–20   108,183
October 23 12:00 p.m. No. 25 Iowadagger Beaver Stadium • University Park, PA ESPN2 L 4–6   108,062
October 30 12:00 p.m. at Ohio State Ohio StadiumColumbus, OH (Rivalry) ABC L 10–21   104,947
November 6 12:00 p.m. Northwestern Beaver Stadium • University Park, PA ESPN+ L 7–14   100,353
November 13 12:00 p.m. at Indiana Memorial StadiumBloomington, IN ESPN+ W 22–18   24,092
November 20 12:00 p.m. Michigan State Beaver Stadium • University Park, PA (Land Grant Trophy) ESPN2 W 37–13   101,486
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. #Rankings from Coaches' Poll released prior to game. All times are in Eastern Time.

Coaching staff[edit]

Game summaries[edit]


1 2 3 4 Total
Akron 3 0 0 7 10
Penn State 21 20 7 0 48

The overwhelmed Zips find themselves behind 41–3 at halftime against Penn State, who subs in the backups, Penn State scores once in the third to make it 48–3, and Akron scores a late, meaningless touchdown against the Lions to bring the score to 48–10, with this being Galen Hall's first game as an offensive coordinator. This game gave Penn State fans false hope that their team was on the rebound from their 3–9 season last year. ESPN described the offense as "looking unstoppable", which led to the Lions being favored over Boston College the following week.

Boston College[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Penn State 0 0 7 0 7
Boston College 7 7 7 0 21

Boston College takes a 14–0 halftime lead at home over the Nittany Lions, and then takes a 21–7 lead after three for the game's final points. Sloppy play on offense ultimately doomed Penn State as Boston College becomes the first of three teams to score 20 or more points on a defense that didn't allow more than 21 points all year and the only team to score 21 offensive points on the Nittany Lions.


1 2 3 4 Total
UCF 3 3 0 7 13
Penn State 0 21 9 7 37

Despite sloppy play and mistakes, the Golden Knights couldn't help but find themselves blown out by a much better Penn State team. After falling behind 3–0 in the first quarter, the Nittany Lions make it 21–6 at halftime and 30–6 after three thanks to a touchdown and a safety. The backups are subbed in for the fourth, both teams score, and it's 37–13 as the final score.


1 2 3 4 Total
Penn State 0 0 3 0 3
Wisconsin 7 6 3 0 16

In a defensive game, three of Penn State's quarterbacks were injured. Zack Mills was knocked out for the game, sustained a concussion, and backup Michael Robinson was taken away in an ambulance after sustaining life-threatening injuries from a vicious hit. Third stringer Chris Ganter did little against the Badgers' defense with Penn State only managing a field goal in the third quarter, barely preserving their streak of games without being shut out. Wisconsin only scored 16 points, which was well below their average for the year.


1 2 3 4 Total
Penn State 0 0 7 0 7
Minnesota 10 0 6 0 16

After the game, Minnesota players had said that they hadn't seen a defense of Penn State's caliber before, but won because of Penn State's offensive weaknesses, still, Penn State's defense kept them in the game for the majority of the game, which would be true for every game this season.


1 2 3 4 Total
Purdue 3 7 7 3 20
Penn State 0 10 3 0 13

Purdue managed only their second Big Ten win in history over Penn State by holding on for a 20–13 win at Beaver Stadium. It was a 10–10 tie and 17–13 after three, but Purdue's final field goal was enough to win it. Purdue's historic losses to Penn State include a loss in 2000 to a 5–7 Nittany Lions team while Purdue themselves were Big Ten champions, representing themselves at the Rose Bowl.


1 2 3 4 Total
Iowa 3 3 0 0 6
Penn State 2 0 0 2 4

This is a game that by many Penn State fans was considered a low point for the football program because of the inept offenses and the fact that the only Penn State scores were defensive. The Penn State defense effectively shut down the Hawkeyes, forcing two first half field goals, but was unable to get anything going on offense. Penn State took a 2–0 lead on a safety early in the game, but the Hawkeyes had a field goal to make it 3–2, then another to make it 6–2 at halftime. The Hawkeyes barely gained any ground in the second half, and the Nittany Lions got their final two points from an elective safety in the fourth quarter because Iowa feared that Penn State would block the punt in the end zone, taking the lead on a touchdown, because they had already blocked a few punts that day. The strategy worked, Penn State coughed up the ball on their next drive and Iowa took a knee to kill the clock. While this game was a low point for Penn State, it was a big game for the Hawkeyes because head coach Kirk Ferentz's father died the week before.

Ohio State[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Penn State 0 7 0 3 10
Ohio State 14 7 0 0 21

Ohio State scored a defensive and special teams touchdown, but Penn State's defense mostly kept them out of the end zone in a 21–10 loss, one of two times they scored double digits in the Horseshoe as a Big 10 team, the other time being in 2008 where they won 13–6 to take control of the Big Ten race. Penn State actually outscored the Buckeyes 10–7 offensively.


1 2 3 4 Total
Northwestern 7 0 0 7 14
Penn State 0 7 0 0 7

Penn State held the momentum and controlled the tempo of most of the game, but couldn't quite put the Wildcats away, despite having a few opportunities to, including a missed field goal and a drive that ended at the Northwestern 18, losing another close game 7–14.


1 2 3 4 Total
Penn State 7 0 7 8 22
Indiana 7 6 0 5 18

This is the game that is said to have turned Penn State's fortunes around. In the same way that the 1999 upset loss to Minnesota was believed to begin a downward spiral called "The Dark Years" by Penn State fans, this close game that ended with a four down goal line stand very late in the game, with Penn State clinging to a 22–16 lead, is said to have been the game that started Penn State on the winning track again and springboarded the team towards the 2005 Big Ten championship. Indiana managed a 13–7 halftime lead, but late in the game found themselves down 22–16, only scoring a field goal but leading 16–14 until Penn State took the lead on a late touchdown and two-point conversion. Penn State stopped Indiana four straight times at the goal line, eventually conceding a safety on the final play of the game to prevent Indiana from having a chance to win. Penn State's goal line stand at Indiana as a result of the momentum it gave the team is considered one of the best Penn State games.

Michigan State[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Michigan State 3 3 0 7 13
Penn State 0 3 28 6 37

The Spartans of Michigan State were 5–5, hoping to become bowl eligible, and the only thing standing in their way was a 3–7 Penn State team who only had one Big Ten win, but the goal line stand at Indiana that led to the Penn State victory the previous week gave them the momentum to win this game big. After a slow first half where Michigan State led 6–3, Penn State rolled off 28 third quarter points to put the game out of reach, going up 31–6 on the Spartans thanks to a plethora of interceptions. Penn State would kick two more field goals in the last quarter while the Spartans scored a late touchdown against backups.




Post season[edit]

The offense did not get going until the third quarter of the final game, but the defense finished the season in the top 10 in four NCAA statistical categories and was the only team in the nation to not allow more than 21 points a game. The Nittany Lion defense ranked fifth in scoring defense (15.3 points per game), ranked tenth in total defense (291.55 yards per game), ranked sixth in pass defense (162.3 ypg), ranked fourth in pass efficiency defense (99.8 rating), and held all 11 opponents below their total offense average.[14]

Despite the losing record, Penn State ranked among the top four in attendance for the 14th consecutive year, averaging 103,111 in six home games, including attendances of 108,183 against Purdue and 108,062 against Iowa, the ninth and tenth largest crowds in Beaver Stadium history.[15]

None of the departing players were drafted in the 2005 NFL Draft, but a number of players signed with NFL teams as free agents.

All-star games[edit]

Game Date Site Players
80th East-West Shrine Game January 15, 2005 SBC Park, San Francisco Andrew Guman
7th Gridiron Classic January 15, 2005 The Villages Polo Stadium, The Villages, Florida Paul Jefferson
59th Hula Bowl January 22, 2005 War Memorial Stadium, Wailuku, Hawaii Derek Wake
2nd Las Vegas All-American Classic January 22, 2005 Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada Zack Mills

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Ganter To Oversee Penn State Football Administration; Hall & McQueary Join Nittany Lions' Coaching Staff". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. February 17, 2004. Archived from the original on April 12, 2004. Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  2. ^ "Penn State Announces Four-Year Contract Extension For Joe Paterno". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. May 13, 2004. Archived from the original on November 25, 2005. Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  3. ^ "Mills & Wake Elected Nittany Lion Football Captains". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. August 18, 2004. Archived from the original on December 16, 2004. Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  4. ^ "Quarterback Zack Mills Named To Davey O'Brien Award Watch List For Third Time". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. July 19, 2004. Archived from the original on August 19, 2004. Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  5. ^ "Quarterback Zack Mills A Candidate for Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. August 26, 2004. Archived from the original on December 16, 2004. Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Nittany Lion Alan Zemaitis Named to Jim Thorpe Award Watch List". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. July 29, 2004. Archived from the original on August 19, 2004. Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Penn State's Connor named a Freshman All-American by The Sporting News". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. December 7, 2004. Archived from the original on August 28, 2005. Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  8. ^ "Connor Selected To FWAA/Scripps Freshman All-America Team". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. January 5, 2005. Archived from the original on August 29, 2005. Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  9. ^ "Andrew Guman Selected To Academic All-America Football Team". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. December 1, 2004. Archived from the original on August 24, 2005. Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  10. ^ a b c "2004 Academic All-District Football Team" (PDF). College Sports Information Directors of America. Retrieved November 26, 2008. 
  11. ^ a b c "Big Ten Announces 2004 football All-Conference Teams And Individual Honors". Big Ten Conference. November 23, 2004. Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  12. ^ "Michigan's Edwards, NU's McGarigle and PSU's Kapinos Named Big Ten Football Players of the Week". Big Ten Conference. November 1, 2004. Archived from the original on June 24, 2007. Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  13. ^ "MSU's Poole Becomes Second O-Lineman in Big Ten History to Win Weekly Award". Big Ten Conference. November 15, 2004. Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  14. ^ "Nittany Lion Defense Ranked in Top 10 Nationally In Four Categories; Leads Big Ten in Scoring and Pass Defense". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. January 6, 2005. Archived from the original on May 26, 2006. Retrieved January 23, 2007. 
  15. ^ "Penn State Earns 14th Consecutive Top Four Finish in NCAA Football Attendance". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. February 9, 2005. Archived from the original on April 2, 2005. Retrieved January 23, 2007.