Penn State 3-2 In All-Time Series With Kentucky
When No. 12 Penn State takes on No. 14 Kentucky in this season’s Citrus Bowl, it will be only the sixth meeting between the two teams.
As a long-standing member of the SEC, the Wildcats have not crossed paths with their feline counterparts that often. Penn State holds a slim 3-2 lead in the all-time series.
Here’s a look back at how each of those five matchups played out.
1975: Penn State 10, Kentucky 3
The Nittany Lions welcomed the Wildcats to Beaver Stadium for their first-ever meeting in week 4 of the 1975 season and the first installment of a four-year series.
Then-No. 10 Penn State won a gritty 10-3 game despite being outgained by Kentucky and shut out on offense in the second half.
The Nittany Lions overcame a spotty performance from quarterback John Andress who threw three interceptions in the second half. He did however deliver the differencemaker when he found Dick Barvinchak for the game’s only touchdown.
1976: Kentucky 22, Penn State 6
Penn State’s first-ever trip to Lexington resulted in a 22-6 loss that knocked the team out of the AP Top 25.
Kentucky completely stymied then-No. 20 Penn State, jumping out to a 22-0 lead after three quarters off of three rushing touchdowns.
A then-record crowd for a football game in the state of Kentucky was on hand to watch the upset unfold as the Nittany Lions mustered only 212 yards of total offense.
“That was a good football team we played,” head coach Joe Paterno said postgame. “What can you say after you get the devil kicked out of you?”
1977: Kentucky 24, Penn State 20
The Nittany Lions were out for revenge in 1977, but didn’t get it. Kentucky beat Penn State 24-20.
Despite taking an early 10-0 lead, the Nittany Lions couldn’t hold on as defensive back Dallas Owens made a game- and season-altering play for Kentucky. His 23-yard interception return for a touchdown jolted life into his team en route to the comeback victory and a 10-1 season.
Then-No. 4 Penn State fell to 3-1 on the season after the loss, but it rattled off eight consecutive victories to finish the year 11-1. Meanwhile, the Wildcats went on to win double-digit games in a season for just the second time in program history that season.
Kentucky’s excellent 10-1 record would go to waste, as the team was ineligible for postseason play because it was on NCAA probation. Oof.
1978: Penn State 30, Kentucky 0
Penn State returned to Lexington in 1978 for the final matchup of the four-game set with revenge on its mind once again, and revenge is what it got.
Joe Paterno’s squad posted the most lopsided victory in series history by a final score of 30-0. Kentucky returned to mediocrity in 1978 with a 4-6-1 record following its best season since the 1950s, but Penn State went on to post a perfect 11-0 regular season record en route to earning the No. 1 ranking before postseason play began.
The Nittany Lions’ run was soon stopped by No. 2 Alabama, who won the 1979 Sugar Bowl 14-7 to claim the national title.
1999: Penn State 26, Kentucky 14
After the four-game series, the Nittany Lions and Wildcats wouldn’t meet again until the 1999 Outback Bowl.
Then-No. 22 Penn State wrapped up that season with a 26-14 victory over Kentucky in the postseason game. You might know Tim Couch best for being the first of many on the infamous Cleveland Browns’ quarterback jersey, but he threw two early touchdowns to help the Wildcats jump out to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter.
Couch’s two touchdowns would turn out to be all that he could do offensively. Led by LaVar Arrington, the Penn State defense held the Wildcats scoreless for the final three quarters while Penn State kicker Travis Forney set a bowl record with four field goals.
The Nittany Lion defense sacked Couch six times — two of these sacks were registered by Courtney Brown who was named the game’s MVP for his two-sack, seven-tackle effort in the game.
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About the Author
Who needs the Orange Bowl when you can go to the Citrus Bowl and have oranges AND all their citrus brethren in one game of crossover SEC-Big Ten smashmouth football?
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