Penn State Football - the reason we're all here really. But for the football... This page is dedicated to the football team: players, coaches, history, future, etc. We'll highlight some of our favorite memories from and about the team and (try to) keep up to date with the current State of things. Please check out our Football Blog for more thoughts, opinions, rants, and so on!
Penn State Sports
Elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, May, 2006. In 2006 the rules to elect a coach to the HoF changed; coaches over the age of 75, as well as retired coaches, became eligible.
Beaver Stadium Seating Chart
Sugar Bowl 1979
National Championship - 1982 - 83 Season
PSU's first National Championship followed the 1982 season. The Lions had played for the National Championship in January 1979, but fell short against Alabama and the Bear. In 1981 PSU had spent time ranked #1 but finished the season with 2 losses (Miami, and yes, Alabama).
In 1982 PSU had big hopes but once again lost to Bama; I remember, I was at a friend's birthday party; when we returned from the roller skating rink, her dad had the game on TV - I couldn't believe that PSU had lost, and I knew that my Dad would be devastated. I got to go to one game that season - the slaughtering of NC State - it was a good afternoon. With 1 loss, the Lions climbed back up in the rankings and finished the regular season ranked #2. They met the #1 Georgia Bulldogs, coached by Vince Dooley and featuring Heisman Trophy winner Hershel Walker, in the 1983 Sugar Bowl. The Bulldogs were the odds on favorite to win the National Title.
Led by Todd Blackledge, Curt Warner, Kenny Jackson, Harry Hamilton, Mark Robinson, Scott Radisec, Greg Garrity and many others, the Lions played with tons of heart and determination and won the game 27 - 23. Garrity scored the "stay ahead" touchdown with a now immortal layout leap into the endzone. Penn State had won the ball game; Penn State was the National Champion.
I remember being overwhelmed by it all. I was old enough to remember the disappointment of the last Sugar Bowl - and the kids just put together such a fantastic game. Dad had turned on the radio (no delay back in those days) to hear the end of the game, announced by Fran Fisher. There's nothing like hearing a completely biased announcer call the last seconds of a championship win (no matter what sport) -
Soon after the game, we went outside - it was cold and clear and you could hear cheering and horns honking all around. After all those years of winning and yet waiting, Penn State had won the Championship, ironically, with a non-undefeated team!
They had a parade in State College a week or so later. It was snowing like crazy but Dad and I went downtown, all bundled up to cheer the victors.
Alabama 1983. Im not really sure how but I got a ticket to that game. It was one of the most exciting games I have ever been to. Penn State was leading, going into the 4th quarter, however, the Tide came rolling back with literally seconds left on the clock Bama had driven down the field and was threatening to score a go-ahead (for good) touchdown the crowd was on its feet, screaming and yelling for the PSU defense to hold em. I was completely overwhelmed I sat down and stuffed my fingers into my ears and looked up at the people surrounding me to see their reactions on 4th down Alabama threw an incomplete pass and PSU won the game. It was pandemonium. It was as if all the losses of the past had been erased and that the ghost of Coach Bryant had finally been exercised. I remember being dizzy with excitement and a euphoria which has transcended time.
National Champions - PSU v Miami 14 - 10
PSU had gone undefeated in 1985 but came up short against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl championship game. In 1986 PSU repeated the undefeated regular season but entered the 1987 Fiesta Bowl as huge underdogs against the #1 Miami Hurricanes. No one, especially not Heisman Trophy winner, Vinny Testaverde (are you seeing a trend here?), or coach Jimmy Johnson gave Penn State a snowball's chance in Tempe.
But the Lions kept their cool, both on and off the field and defeated UM 14 - 10. Testeverde threw 5 interceptions and the Lions defense forced 2 fumbles. John Shaffer and DJ Dozier scored for PSU.
Late in the 4th quarter, Miami pieced together a drive down to the Lions' 5 yard line. The Hurricane defense had been tearing up the field, but Johnson chose to throw. Testaverde was sacked and then they had to put it up. With time ticking away, Vinny threw the ball into a sea of white jerseys. Pete Giftopoulos stepped in front of the ball, sealing the Lions' victory. The Lions had slayed the giant and won their 2nd National Championship.
The 1994 Team
324 - PSU v. Ohio State
The 2002 PSU Nebraska game was a long anticipated
event for the Lions Loyal. The match-ups of the early 80s and the 1994
season were, for many of us, fresh memories. The whole weekend was
surreal. Suzanne and I had spent a lot of time planning and preparing
for the tailgate. We rented a mammoth RV, which Suzanne drove (Like a
Pro!) into town Friday afternoon and we set up camp in the far park
lot (pastures) in the halo of Beaver Stadium. Kickoff was not until
8pm Saturday, so we had the whole day for tailgating. It was so much
fun. The best of friends and family were present. And then there was
the game. Suzanne and I had seen Coach Paterno speak at a Nittany Lion
Club function in May where the general consensus of the crowd had been
we dont care if the team is 1-11 Coach, just beat Nebraska. And
beat them they did. The crowd was phenomenal it had never been
larger, or louder!
2005 - Penn State v. Ohio State -
The Ohio State game was like none I had ever seen before - The game was at 7:45pm and we'd been tailgating since 8am - the weather was crap all day long - rainy, windy and cold. It had been a long wait for this game - figuratively and LITERALLY. The rain and wind subsided for most of the game - but it didn't really matter - the field held up great and the Lions seemed to do even better when it did rain. Ohio scored first with a field goal - not too bad; the PSU offense was moving the ball, but not enough to get into scoring distance. The punting game was horrible - worst of the year (by far) - our punter, who had been fabulous the whole season coming into the game, was totally off his game - he had one punt that went just 22 yards and one that went only 11! But the defense stepped up and kept the horse chestnuts from scoring. Penn State got the ball on the 26 yard line and strung together a few first downs to get into osu territory - PSU found themselves with 4th and 1 in limbo land (too close to punt and too far to try a field goal) so they went for it and Tony Hunt, channeling Barry Sanders, powered his way to a 2 yard gain. The sports writers have said that that was the turning point - Derrick Williams scored a rushing touchdown and on the next series Kevin Lowery intercepted a Smith pass running back 36 yards to place the Lions on the 2 yard line. Michael Robinson scored on a keeper 3 plays later. Kevin Kelly our freshman kicker hit both extra points and PSU was leading 14 - 3. The crowd (as was I) was going crazy. It felt like old times - but these were new times and there was a lot of game to be played. OSU marched down the field and scored a touchdown 33 seconds before the half to make the score 14 - 10 at halftime. The second half was a game of attrition - PSU drove down the field on their first possession of the half and Kelly hit a 41 yard field goal - the score was 17 - 10. Neither team would score again. PSU picked some of their most conservative, predictable, ineffective plays on offense (now, that's Penn State football) - And while the defense played fairly conservatively as well - they did it effectively - they were on the field most of the 2nd half - and with a short osu field most of the time too. OSU put together a drive that was fueled mostly by bizarre penalty calls but the defense stayed strong and OSU was forced to attempt a 50+ yard field goal - which they missed. The PSU offense couldn't put the plays together to get the defense some rest - but Cappinos finally hit a quality punt - which Ginn, Jr. chose not to field and the Buckeyes were pinned deep with just minutes to play - a holding penalty pushed them back even farther in the direction of their own goal line - and into the chasm of the PSU student section - OSU was forced to burn a timeout because Smith couldn't hear/communicate - this was key, later. OSU did get out of the endzone, close to midfield - but with less than 2 minutes left in the game, Smith dropped back to pass, and Tamba Hali came charging across the backfield crashing into Smith and knocking the ball loose; Scott Paxson immediately tore away from his blocker and jumped on the loose football. Othe field it was called a fumble - the crowd went nuts - but the officials called a timeout for review. The scoreboard showed the replay and the stadium exploded when the film showed clearly that the ball was loose before Smith hit the turf - the play stood and because OSU had only one timeout remaining - Penn State was able to run out the clock - Penn State beat Ohio State 17 - 10 with no tricks, gifts or prayers (well, fewer prayers than normal) - The crowd just cheered and cheered - no one left their seats. It was a great game. They did it.
2005 - PENN STATE BIG TEN CHAMPIONS! The 2005 regular season reacquainted Penn State Football with national
prominence and media attention. In addition to winning the Big Ten
Title - the team produced a bevy of awards and honors.