How Penn State Has Fared In Previous Citrus Bowl Appearances
After narrowly missing the cut to play a third consecutive New Year’s Six bowl, No. 12 Penn State will instead return to familiar territory in Orlando where they’ll play the Kentucky Wildcats in its sixth trip to the Citrus Bowl.
Let’s take a look at how the Nittany Lions fared in their first five trips to the Happiest Place on Earth.
1987-88: 35-10 loss to Clemson
Penn State’s first Citrus Bowl game got off to a respectable start in the first half, as Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions only trailed by a slim 14-7 margin at halftime. The second half, however, was a heartbreaker. Penn State mustered only a third quarter field goal, while the Tigers went off, scoring three unanswered rushing touchdowns to seal their victory over the Nittany Lions.
1993-94: 31-13 win over Tennessee
Penn State’s second trip to Orlando was a successful, three-possession upset victory, as the No. 13 Nittany Lions dominated head coach Phillip Fulmer’s 6th-ranked Volunteers. After a neck-and-neck 17-13 score at the half, Penn State’s defense kept Tennessee off the scoreboard in the second half, while the Nittany Lions’ offense chalked up two more touchdowns en route to victory.
1997-98: 21-6 loss to Florida
Penn State’s third Citrus Bowl appearance was a major disappointment with a nearly non-existent offense that produced just two field goals against the Gators’ three touchdowns. Despite impressive defensive play that only allowed Florida to score once in the second half, the Nittany Lions couldn’t respond, and went on to lose their second Citrus Bowl.
2002-03: 13-9 loss to Auburn
Despite this defeat marking consecutive losses in the since-renamed Capital One Bowl for Penn State, the Nittany Lions’ defense kept this matchup closer than the previous two-possession disappointment. Another poor showing on offense, however, was the difference-maker, as a mere handful of field goals marked consecutive appearances without a touchdown for Paterno’s squad.
2009-10: 19-17 win over LSU
In a slightly higher scoring contest, the Nittany Lions picked up a close victory over the LSU Tigers. Penn State had previously beaten LSU in postseason play in the 1974 Orange Bowl, then solidifying an undefeated record. Despite rain, Penn State finally found the end zone again in the Citrus/Capital One Bowl with a 37-yard touchdown pass from Daryll Clark to Derek Moye. An additional four field goals from Collin Wagner carried the Nittany Lions to victory as the senior kicker notched the game-winning field goal from 21 yards with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter.
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After losing my father to cancer, I thought there was nothing THON could offer me that I didn’t already know. After four years, I found comfort in the familiar.
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