Penn State vs Ohio State: it’s always the biggest showdown on the schedule every year, but how have the Nittany Lions historically faired against the Buckeyes? Penn State and Ohio State have faced each other in 31 games, with the Buckeyes leading the series 17-13 (Ohio State’s 2010 win was vacated).
Let’s take a look at some of the best games between the two programs ahead of tomorrow’s matchup:
2005: No. 18 Penn State: 17, No. 6 Ohio State: 10
Ohio State rolled into Beaver Stadium as the No. 6 team in the nation to face the undefeated No. 18 ranked Penn State in front of 109,839 fans for the White Out. Down a score with four minutes remaining, Ohio State was driving down the field when Tamba Hali landed one of the biggest hits in Penn State history causing Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith to fumble the ball. Penn State recovered the fumble, allowing them to run out the clock and secure the win vs the Buckeyes. This is the last time Penn State defeated Ohio State in Beaver Stadium.
1994: No. 1 Penn State: 63, No. 21 Ohio State: 14
The No. 1 Ranked Nittany Lions — who celebrated their 75th Homecoming on this date — took on the No. 21 Buckeyes in what would be a lopsided Penn State victory. The Lions were led by the formidable trio of quarterback Kerry Collins, running back Ki-Jana Carter, and wide receiver Bobby Engram. The Lions would head to the locker room at halftime up 35-0, but the scoring didn’t stop there. The Lions went on to win 63-14, which would be Ohio State’s most lopsided loss since the 20th century. Even crazier than the score is the fact that after the game, Penn State would drop to No. 2 in the polls after No. 2 Nebraska barely defeated No. 3 Colorado.
2001: Penn State: 29, Ohio State: 27
2001 started poorly for the Nittany Lions — a 1-4 start to the season would take them up against the 4-2 Buckeyes at home. The game looked like it would be another loss for Penn State after going down 27-9, but Penn State put together a 20-point unanswered comeback. With the score 29-27 early in the fourth quarter, Ohio State would get a chance to take the lead with a 35-yard field goal with three minutes remaining. Penn State defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy, a future first round pick, was able to get a hand up to block the kick. Penn State ran out the remaining time, securing an important win. This win would put Joe Paterno ahead of Alabama coach Bear Bryant for the Division I all time wins record at 324.
2008: No. 3 Penn State 13, No. 13 Ohio State 6
Penn State headed into Columbus Ohio 8-0 to face the 7-1 Buckeyes, whose only loss had come to the No. 1 ranked USC Trojans. The game would be a defensive battle for both Joe Paterno’s and Jim Tressel’s squads. The Buckeyes had a 6-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter after a pair of field goals. The momentum would take a huge swing in Penn State’s favor with 10:50 remaining in the game. Penn State safety Mark Rubin would knock the ball lose from Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, with the Nittany Lions making the recovery. Pat Devlin scored a touchdown on the resulting drive putting Penn State up 10-6. After a quick Penn State field goal, the Buckeyes were left down 13-6 with a minute to go. Pryor would take a shot at the end zone with 35 seconds remaining only to watch Penn State’s Lydell Sargeant intercept the pass. This secured the Nittany Lions’ first victory in Columbus in 30 years.
2011: No. 21 Penn State: 20 Ohio State: 14
The 2011 Penn State vs Ohio State matchup was a different than any that preceded it. Both Penn State and Ohio State were coached by interim coaches after the firing of Joe Paterno and the resignation of Jim Tressel. This was only the second game for Penn State under interim head coach Tom Bradley. The game was primed to be a defensive battle for both teams from the start, with the only scores in the game coming in the first half. Penn State would go on to win the game 20-14 behind two touchdowns from Stephfon Green and two field goals from Anthony Fera. This would be the Nittany Lions’ first win in the post-Joe Paterno era and would secure them a share of the Big Ten Leaders Division Championship. This was the last time Penn State has beaten Ohio State.
There have been some thrillers in the history of Penn State and Ohio State, but the Nittany Lions haven’t won a game vs the Buckeyes since the matchup in 2011. Hopefully that will all change this weekend, and we’ll be able to add another game to the list.