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The Worst Weather Conditions In Penn State Football History

Penn State football undoubtedly has some of the most loyal fans in the country, and the Nittany Lions have endured some pretty harsh weather over the years. From brutal winds to piles of snow littered throughout the stadium, Penn Staters have braved inclement weather both at home and on the road almost too many times to count.

Here’s a look at some of the worst game day weather conditions in Penn State football history:

Penn State vs. Notre Dame 1987

While spectators usually get to enjoy reasonable weather throughout the first half of any football season, the end of the season can bring some pretty brutal temperatures. Penn State’s clash against Notre Dame on November 21, 1987 at Beaver Stadium was no exception — the wind reached speeds of 25 miles per hour and the crowd had to endure a wind chill factor of -8 degrees to -20 degrees.

Penn State successfully braved the frigid weather and upset a No. 7-ranked Notre Dame 21-20. Despite the obvious intensity of a game like this, most of the audience from both sides had decided they couldn’t face the weather anymore and left early — a testament to how brutal it truly was that day.

Penn State vs. Notre Dame 1992

The clash between Penn State and Notre Dame on November 14, 1992 was a unique game for a few reasons. Producers were filming the movie Rudy throughout the Notre Dame campus that week, and an unseasonably early batch of snow struck South Bend during the game. Much to everyone’s surprise, heavy snow came in spurts, and the snow blanket measured more than an inch by the end of the fourth quarter.

The No. 21-ranked Nittany Lions fought hard against the No. 8-ranked Fighting Irish, but the game ended in a 17-16 win for Notre Dame. Spectators often dub this game one of the few “Snow Bowl” games in college football history.

Penn State vs. Michigan 1995

The Nittany Lions were preparing to face the Wolverines at Beaver Stadium when a surprise snowstorm struck the area just a few days before kickoff. A whopping 18 inches of snow covered the field, and Penn State Athletics had to round up hundreds of volunteers — including 188 prisoners from nearby correctional institutions — to scramble and move the snow before the game.

Around 80,000 spectators headed into the stadium that day despite the heavy snowfall and icy temperatures. Large piles of snow were scattered around the stadium, and announcers urged the students to refrain from throwing snowballs during the game (with little success, of course). Penn State ended up faking a field goal to snag a 27-17 win against the Wolverines. Along with the 1992 game against Notre Dame, fans frequently give this game the “Snow Bowl” nickname as well.

Penn State vs. Iowa 2008

Penn State’s devastating loss to Iowa at Kinnick Stadium on November 8, 2008 also came with some of the worst conditions in football history. Temperatures dipped below freezing that day, and wind speeds reached 25 miles per hour on top of that. For many fans, it was reportedly the coldest game they’d ever been to. The Nittany Lions arguably performed well, but the ruthless wind derailed offensive efforts from both teams throughout the entire game, and Iowa managed to snag a 24-23 win by field goal in the final seconds of the game.

Speaking of cold, it is certainly the best way to serve revenge.

Penn State vs. Illinois 2011

Penn Staters will forever remember October 29, 2011 as the day Joe Paterno sealed his 409th win after a missed Illini field goal attempt. It turns out that fateful day was also the day a historically brutal snowstorm struck the northeastern part of the United States. The Nittany Lions headed into the game with State College already covered in 4.8 inches of thick, wet snow. Snow fell on and off throughout the game, and some parts of Pennsylvania ended up covered in more than 12 inches of snow.

Despite the harsh weather conditions, Penn State beat Illinois at a close 10-7, sealing a game that will forever go down as one of the most pertinent in Penn State football history. As the Nittany Lions celebrate the historic win, you can clearly see their breath amidst the unseasonably cold air that chilled fans to their bones that night.


What brutal game day weather have you endured? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Claire Fountas

Claire Fountas is the student life editor for Onward State, as well as a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and psychology. She lives in a suburb of Chicago and strongly disagrees with anyone who hates the Cubs or the Blackhawks (so, pretty much anyone at Penn State). You can follow her @ClaireFountas or email her at [email protected]

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