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A Look At Penn State’s Past Visits To The Big House

No. 14 Penn State football will travel to Ann Arbor to take on No. 5 Michigan on Saturday.

If facing a 7-1 record and a top-class defense wasn’t intimidating enough, the Nittany Lions will also play in the Big House, one of the toughest environments in all of college football. With a capacity of 107,601, Michigan Stadium is the largest stadium in the United States and second largest in the world. It holds the college football record for highest average single season attendance of 112,252. 

Penn State has a 3-7 record all time in trips to the Big House. The Nittany Lions won their first trip to Ann Arbor 31-24 in 1994 in a game that featured strong performances from quarterback Kerry Collins and running back Ki-Jana Carter, who finished with 165 yards on the ground.

The score was tied at 24 late in the fourth quarter when Collins led Penn State on a game-winning drive that culminated in a touchdown pass to Bobby Engram with 1:53 remaining in the game.

The touchdown gave the Nittany Lions a one-possession lead, and the defense held up strong in the final moments to seal the win. This was one of the biggest wins in a season which Penn State finished 12-0, including a Rose Bowl victory over Oregon.

The Nittany Lions won again in The Big House when they returned in 1996, winning 29-17. Sophomore running back and future first-round pick Curt Enis finished with 163 total yards of offense, including a 38-yard touchdown rush in the fourth quarter. Penn State’s defense forced five turnovers and played a big role in the victory.

Penn State’s success at the Big House wouldn’t last long, however. Outside of an emphatic 35-10 victory in 2009, the Nittany Lions are winless in seven trips to Ann Arbor. Quarterback Darryl Clark was the last starting quarterback to win a game at Michigan Stadium — he finished the day with 230 passing yards and four touchdowns. Running back Evan Royster ran for an even 100 yards on the day, and Graham Zug finished the day with three touchdowns.

Penn State’s most recent game at Michigan wasn’t pretty, to say the least. The Wolverines won 49-10 to earn the largest margin of victory in the series. The Nittany Lions struggled through several injuries at linebacker and were dominated on both sides of the ball.

A whole lot has changed since the Nittany Lions last played at The Big House, but the fact still remains that it’s not an easy place to play — and that’s an understatement. Penn State likely needs a near-perfect performance on Saturday to emerge victorious in Ann Arbor.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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