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A Look Back At Penn State Football’s History Of Season Openers On The Road

Penn State football will kick off its season at 3:30 p.m. Saturday against Indiana. The Nittany Lions will be on the road for this one, making it the first time they’ll open their season on the road since 2015 and just the 30th time in their history.

So far, Penn State has opened up its season on the road just 29 times and twice since 1994. In those 29 games, the Nittany Lions own a 19-10 record.

With a trip to Bloomington just a few days away, let’s look back at some of the most notable road season openers in Penn State history

2015 — Temple 27, Penn State 10

Let’s start things off with Penn State’s most recent road season opener against the Temple Owls. James Franklin’s squad traveled to Lincoln Financial Field for this one and didn’t find much success at all.

After jumping out to an early 10-0 lead in the first quarter, Penn State wasn’t able to get anything going, allowing Temple to score 27 unanswered points.

It was a day to forget for Nittany Lion quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who completed just 44% of his passes for 103 passing yards and an interception.

The Owls exploited Penn State on the ground for 149 rushing yards and three scores.

1994 — Penn State 56, Minnesota 3

No. 9 Penn State kicked off its undefeated 12-0 campaign in 1994 with an absolute dismantling of Minnesota.

Star running back Ki-Jana Carter led the way for the Nittany Lions with three rushing touchdowns, two of which went for more than 60 yards. Additionally, quarterback Kerry Collins tossed three touchdown passes, including one to both Bobby Engram and Freddie Scott.

Climbing to as high as No. 1 in the AP Top 25 Poll in 1994, the Nittany Lions enjoyed one of their best seasons ever and capped it off with a 38-20 win against Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

1992 — Penn State 24, Cincinnati 20

No. 8 Penn State edged out a win against Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium in 1992. What makes this game notable, however, is what happened the previous season.

The Nittany Lions destroyed the Bearcats 81-0 in 1991, completely embarrassing Tim Murphy’s program.

Coming off a 3-8 record and that abysmal performance in 1991, Cincinnati put up a fight against Penn State this time around and nearly won the game.

1985 — Penn State 20, Maryland 18

On September 7, 1985, No. 19 Penn State marched into College Park and upset No. 7 Maryland in an absolute thriller.

The Nittany Lions jumped out to a quick lead when defensive back Mike Zordich returned an interception for a touchdown within the first minute of the game.

From there, Penn State tacked on 10 more points to extend its lead to 17-0. However, this one was far from over.

The Terrapins went on to score 18 unanswered points to take a 18-17 lead in the third quarter. Penn State finally answered back when kicker Massimo Manca converted on a 47-yard field goal to give the Nittany Lions a 20-18 lead.

With Maryland driving into field goal range with under a minute left in the game, the Nittany Lions forced and recovered a fumble to hold on and win the game 20-18.

1975 – Penn State 26, Temple 25

No. 6 Penn State narrowly escaped this game with a 26-25 win in what was an ugly performance for the offense.

Penn State’s offense was able to generate just 87 passing and 114 rushing yards. Additionally, the Nittany Lions were sparked by two big returns on special teams — one being a 100-yard touchdown, and the other a 66-yard punt return that set Penn State up at Temple’s 3-yard line.

The Nittany Lions avoided what would’ve been a major upset at the hands of an unranked Temple team.

1972 — Tennessee 28, Penn State 21

This matchup saw No. 6 Penn State take on No. 7 Tennessee at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

After being beaten by 20 points the previous season at the hands of the Vols, the Nittany Lions were out for revenge in this one. Unfortunately, it didn’t end well for Joe Paterno’s team.

Tennessee jumped out to an early lead with a long touchdown run that set the tone for the rest of the game. Despite putting up more of a fight this time around, Penn State fell to lower-ranked Tennessee for the second consecutive season.

1887 – Penn State 54, Bucknell 0

This one’s a throwback, folks. In Penn State football’s first-ever game, the squad made a statement with a 54-0 win against Bucknell.

This was one of the only two games of Penn State’s 1887 season, the other also being against Bucknell. That one, however, took place at Old Main and ended with Penn State picking up a 24-0 win.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

After a four-year career with Onward State, Gabe is now a college graduate and off to the real world. He shockingly served as the blog’s managing editor during the 2022-23 school year and covered football for much of his Onward State tenure, including trips to the Outback Bowl and Rose Bowl. For any professional inquiries, please email Gabe at [email protected]. You can still see his bad sports takes on Twitter at @gabeangieri.

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