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How Penn State Football Has Fared In Thursday Games

Saturdays are made for college football. For the fall season, the first day of the weekend is dominated by non-stop collegiate action that involves tailgates, chants, and even more importantly: football.

However, following a recent report that came out last week, Penn State will open its season against Purdue on a Thursday night. Wait, Thursday? We’re talking about Thursday? Thirsty Thursday? Correct.

Contrary to popular belief, Penn State actually has a bit of a history with Thursday football games. It all starts and ends with our bitter in-state rival: Pitt. More than a century ago on November 24, 1904, these two teams duked it out on Thanksgiving, which continued for another 26 straight years. In fact, all 26 games were played in Pittsburgh, as weird as that sounds.

The Panthers won their first meeting on Thursday back in 1904, but the Nittany Lions finished the decade winning five of the next seven matchups. However, Penn State out-scored Pitt just 26-23 in those games. The 1908 showdown excitingly finished with a modest 12-6 score.

Pitt cruised through the next decade of Thanksgiving football tradition with a 6-3-1 record over the Nittany Lions. None of these games were close since six of them, if you include the 0-0 tie in 1920, resulted in shutout victories. The 1920s were much like the previous decade, as Pitt swept every matchup on Thursday against the Nittany Lions, except a 0-0 tie that occurred in 1921. For those of you keeping track: Penn State is so far 7-17-2 when playing on Thursday. Not great.

The Thanksgiving Pennsylvania duel streak ended in 1930 as the two teams moved the match-ups to Fridays instead. However, Penn State and Pitt went on to have three more Thursday games on November 27, 1958, November 28, 1974, and, more recently, November 28, 1991. The Nittany Lions won all three.

In 1958, Penn State just got by the Panthers for a 25-21 victory in Pittsburgh. In 1974, Penn State came back after trailing 7-6 at halftime to win 31-10 in Joe Paterno’s 100th game as head coach.

Finally, to end the Thursday game history, No. 6-ranked Penn State beat the Panthers, 32-20 to end its season. Panthers quarterback Alex Van Pelt threw a school-record 64 passes in that matchup, but three fumbles, five interceptions, and an offense led by fullback Richie Anderson were too much for Pitt to handle. Anderson finished the game with 167 yards and two touchdowns on just 26 carries.

As we look back in history, Penn State holds a 10-17-2 record when playing on Thursday. Although most of the games were played over a century ago, Penn State is no stranger to Thursday kickoffs or even other weekday games, for that matter.

The Nittany Lions will add one more Thursday game to the books when they take on the Boilermakers on September 1, 2022, to start their next season.

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About the Author

Tobey Prime

Tobey is a senior studying broadcast journalism from Lancaster, PA. He is a major Pittsburgh sports fan and Miami Heat fanatic. When Tobey isn't writing for Onward State, you can catch him looking at photos of his pugs. Send your best insults to [email protected] or sports takes to @tobey_prime on Twitter.

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