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A Look Back At Penn State Football’s Halloween History

For the first time since 2015, Penn State football will play a game on Halloween this weekend.

The Nittany Lions will host Ohio State for a nationally televised showdown at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 31. A combination of Halloween, a literal blue moon, and a fanless Beaver Stadium means things are bound to get weird.

Penn State has played on Halloween just 20 times in its history, holding down a respectable record of 11-8-1 in those games.

As the anticipation builds for this weekend’s game, we decided to take a look back at some of the Nittany Lions’ most notable games on the spookiest day of the year.

2015 — Penn State 39, Illinois 0

This game actually ended up being Christian Hackenberg’s final win as Penn State’s quarterback. Although James Franklin and the Nittany Lions were 7-2 after this game, they fell cold to end the season, finishing 7-6 after losing to Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl.

Hackenberg completed 21 of 29 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns. He even caught a touchdown pass of his own from Nick Scott.

1992 — BYU 30, Penn State 17

Penn State’s loss in Utah on Halloween in 1992 was the last time Penn State ever played the Cougars. However, this is the only loss Penn State has against BYU, as the Nittany Lions have a 2-1 all-time series lead.

Penn State quarterback Kerry Collins completed 28 passes for 317 yards but was able to manage only one touchdown connection. Running back Richie Anderson accounted for the only other touchdown. The Nittany Lions finished the season 7-5 after a loss to Stanford in the Blockbuster Bowl (RIP).

1987 — Penn State 25, West Virginia 21

This is the most recent game in which Penn State has played West Virginia on Halloween, which has happened five different times. Yes, this means that 25% of the Nittany Lions’ Halloween matchups came against the Mountaineers. It’s happened in 1987, 1970, 1959, 1953, and 1942.

Penn State holds a 3-2 lead over West Virginia on Halloween and a 48-9-2 lead overall. The Nittany Lions haven’t played the Mountaineers since 1992.

1981 — Miami (FL) 17, Penn State 14

Penn State went into Halloween night 1981 as the No. 1 team in the country boasting a 6-0 record. The Nittany Lions were upset by an unranked 4-2 Hurricanes team on a rainy day in Miami. Penn State’s kicker, Brian Franco, missed four field goals in a game that was decided by just three points.

The Nittany Lions couldn’t mount a comeback effort, coughing the ball up two times in the final minutes of the game. Penn State lost to Alabama two weeks later and finished the season with a 10-2 record.

The Nittany Lions were selected as a national champion by the Dunkel System, but were not named consensus champions. Perhaps if not for this heartbreaking loss to Miami, things would have been different. Nevertheless, Penn State claimed its first official national title the very next season.

1888 — Penn State 6, Dickinson 6

Yeah, this is where things get weird. This was Penn State’s first game played on Halloween, and only its fourth official game ever.

All we really know about this game is that it was played right on Old Main Lawn. Penn State played Dickinson one more time that season along with Lehigh, finishing with an incredible 0-2-1 record. Dickinson was the first college founded after the formation of the United States, which is pretty cool. This was also the only winless team in Penn State football history.

Penn State Football 1888.jpg

Maybe Thursday and Friday’s rain will leave Beaver Stadium in sloppy conditions Saturday, creating a similar lower-scoring outcome against Ohio State. The Nittany Lions will hope to improve their Halloween record to 12-8-1.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a redshirt senior majoring in business and journalism from "Philadelphia" and mostly writes about football nowadays. You can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9 or say hi via email at [email protected].

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