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A Look Back at Paterno’s Best Victories

With Joe Paterno just one win shy of 400 career victories, Onward State takes a look back at the legend’s impressive resume with his top ten wins of all time.

10. Penn State 15, Kansas 14 (1968- Orange Bowl) – In one of the most dramatic games of Paterno’s career, a Charlie Pittman touchdown with less than :10 to play marked Paterno’s very first undefeated season of his career.

9. Penn State 17, Ohio State 10 (2005) – The game that brought Joe Paterno “back” to college football dominance. Tambi Hali tossing quarterback Troy Smith head over heels in front of the first legitimate white out in Beaver Stadium history is a picture that will go on to symbolize Penn State’s defense for years to come.

8. Penn State 16, LSU 9 (1973 – Orange Bowl) – Led by Paterno’s only Heisman trophy winner John Cappelletti,  Paterno finished his second undefeated season after beating the Tigers by one touchdown.

7. Penn State 26, Florida State 23 – 3OT (2005 –Orange Bowl) – Matching up against fellow legend Bobby Bowden, kicker Kevin Kelly lifted Paterno past his counterpart with a triple-overtime field goal. This victory eventually led to Paterno being named Sports Illustrated coach of the year for 2005.

6. Penn State 29, Ohio State 27 (2001) – After trailing by 18 points quarterback Zack Mills lead Penn State’s offense to score 20 unanswered points to give Paterno his 324th victory. It would pass Paul “Beat” Bryant’s all-time record.

5. Penn State 15, Maryland 7 (1966) – Before a crowd of 40,911 at Beaver Stadium, the Nittany Lions outlasted Maryland to give coach Paterno his first of many wins as head coach.

4. Penn State 27, Nebraska 24 (1982) – Paterno’s first national championship in 1982 never happens without this exhilarating victory. With :04 left to play, quarterback and now TV broadcaster Todd Blackledge nailed Kirk Bowman for the game-winning touchdown in front of 85,000+ at Beaver Stadium.

3. Penn State 63, Ohio State 14 (1994) – After throttling the Buckeyes, the Kerry Collins-led Nittany Lions made a strong case to be the best Penn State team of all time. But after being snubbed out of a national championship opportunity, the potent offense of 1994 settled for an undefeated season.

2. Penn State 27, Georgia 23 (1982 – Sugar Bowl) – The nasty Penn State defense led held Heisman trophy winner Hershel Walker 107 yards, but it was enough to walk away with Joe Paterno’s first-ever national championship.

1. Penn State 14, Miami (Fla.) 10 (1986 –Fiesta Bowl) – Without ever given a chance to beat the heavily favored Hurricanes before the game, Shane Conlan and the Penn State defense stifled Miami’s potent offensive attack on their way to Paterno’s second and last national title.

About the Author

Tim Owen

I am originally from a very small town in northeastern Pennsyltucky, called Athens. Currently, I am enrolled in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism and major in print journalism.

I have a passion for sports, and more specifically football. I enjoy hunting, cooking, food, and everything Penn State!


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