The Best All-Time Night Games at Beaver Stadium
Night games at Beaver Stadium are
arguably the most intimidating environment in all of college football. When 107,000+ screaming maniacs are dressed in white, it creates a hostile environment that opponents rarely survive.
The most recent — and arguably the best — example of this came on Saturday, when Penn State beat Michigan in 4 OT’s in what some experts are calling college football’s best game so far this season. However, there are plenty of other games that you can argue are the best example of how terrifying a night game can be at Beaver Stadium. In no particular order…
2002 vs. Nebraska
This game featured the largest attendance in Beaver Stadium history, with 110,753 fans in attendance to see Joe Paterno pick up his 329th career win in a 40-7 rout of the Huskers. Larry Johnson and Michael Robinson both ran for two touchdowns, and Richard Gardner’s pick-6 on Nebraska quarterback Jammal Lord is still one of the loudest moments in Beaver Stadium history.
2005 vs. Ohio State
Have you ever been to a great concert, and when your friends ask you what made it so great, all you can respond with is, “you had to be there?” That’s what this game is like.
Ask anyone who was in attendance and they will tell you that Penn State’s 17-10 win over the Buckeyes, was the best college football game they ever saw. Everything about that game was special — Cold Pizza and College Gameday were in attendance, it is regarded by many as the first “official” Paternoville campout and the first “official” White Out and, well, it was a game against Ohio State with national title implications.
Also, arguably the most famous play in Penn State history, Tamba Hali’s forced fumble on Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith to seal the game for the Nittany Lions, happened during this game. When you discuss the best night games in Beaver Stadium history, the conversation usually starts and ends here.
2007 vs. Notre Dame
Confession time — growing up, I was a Notre Dame fan. This game made me cry. I’m 100 percent serious. I remember watching it in my cousin’s bedroom, thinking “We’re Notre Dame, of course we’re going to win!” I was horribly wrong. Penn State whipped the Fighting Irish like they stole something that night, winning 31-10.
Sometimes, when 15-year-old Bill likes to surface and take over my YouTube account, he’ll sometimes watch videos of the crowd from that game, like this one, or this one, or maybe even this one. While the final score implicated it was a 21 point win for Penn State, it wasn’t that close. Notre Dame did nothing offensively, allowing five sacks and rushing for zero yards. Derrick Williams’ punt return for a touchdown was one of the loudest moments in Beaver Stadium history. It was ugly…unless you’re a Penn State fan.
2008 vs. Illinois
Contrary to what you would think watching the Fighting Illini under its current head coach, Illinois used to be a really good football team. Behind coach Ron Zook, QB Juice Williams, RB Mikel LeShoure, and WR Arrelious Benn, Illinois was actually a top-tier team in the Big Ten in the late 2000s. However, Penn State spanked them in front of 109,626 people in 2008, 38-24. This game had one of the more famous plays in recent Penn State’s history: Derrick Williams returning a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, right after ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit mentioned that it was a close game. So much for that.
2010 vs. Michigan
This was the first night game I ever attended, and man, was it a good one. Michigan QB Denard Robinson nearly picked up 400 yards of total offense by himself, which meant nothing, because Penn State won, 41-31. Beaver Stadium was rocking that night because 108,539 fans packed the stadium. Evan Royster put on a Herculean performance, rushing for 150 yards and two touchdowns, and Joe Paterno won his 399th career game. However, the most important thing was that this game was the first time I ever saw Matt Freeman do that thing with the flaming batons, which is still my favorite thing that happens during halftime all season.
2012 vs. Wisconsin
This game was technically a 3:30 p.m. start, but 3:30 p.m. in late November is essentially a night game, right? Regardless, considering all the team went through in 2012 — the sanctions, the 0-2 start, getting screwed out of a win at Nebraska, Mike Mauti tearing his ACL — this game needs some kind of recognition. Despite a crowd of only 93,505 people, it was still one of the louder crowds I’ve heard during a game. People went insane when much maligned kicker Sam Ficken drilled a 37 yard field goal to give Penn State a 24-21 lead in overtime, and the crowd lost its collective mind when Wisconsin couldn’t respond. As Steve Jones said, the Nittany Lions got the win they deserved.
2013 vs. Michigan
I mean, come on.
Did we miss any games that deserve recognition? Let us know in the comments.
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About the Author
Penn State most recently put together a 41-13 victory over Northwestern on Saturday in Evanston, highlighted by a 17-point third quarter.
After picking up a draw against Michigan on Thursday, the Nittany Lions came out hungry against the Spartans and converted a goal in the first six minutes of play.
Despite ultimately defeating the Wildcats in a blowout, the Nittany Lions were trapped in a shootout in the first half.