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The Historic Penn State-Ohio State Rivalry

Penn State and Ohio State have proved to be two of the most consistent and dominant college football teams in the country.

These two football powerhouses will meet for the 39th time when the No. 7 Nittany Lions (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) travel to Columbus to take on the No. 3 Buckeyes (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) this Saturday. It’ll be the 22nd matchup where both teams are ranked within the AP Top 25.

Ohio State has won 10 of the last 11 matchups against Penn State, with its only loss coming in 2016 when the 18-point underdog Nittany Lions defended their home turf against the No. 2 Buckeyes during that season’s White Out game.

Penn State captured the win after Marcus Allen blocked a Buckeye field goal, which was returned by Grant Haley for a 70-yard scoop-and-score. It led to an eventual 24-21 Penn State victory and was deemed one of the greatest plays in Penn State history.

The Buckeyes lead the all-time series 24-13.

When the teams first met in 1912, they had no idea how prominent the matchup would become to college football every year. The Nittany Lions stormed into Columbus, coming off an 8-0-1 record in 1911, the best season they’ve had. Penn State was beginning to be respected as an eastern powerhouse but wanted to become a nationally dominant group. To do this, they looked to Ohio State who was set to join the Western Conference (later known as the Big Ten) in the following season.

Ohio State also needed this win to prove it was worthy of joining the new conference after poor competition in the Ohio Athletic Conference.

This was all the motivation that the College Football Hall of Famer Shorty Miller and the Nittany Lions needed. They introduced the Buckeyes to the smash-mouth football that the Big Ten has since become known for. Things got so chippy that Ohio State head coach John Richards and his team walked off the field, handing Penn State a forfeit win.

Officially, the game was ruled a 1-0 forfeit, but in the Penn State record books, it was a 37-0 victory, and the two teams didn’t meet for another 44 seasons.

The first matchup in State College didn’t come until 1976 when the No. 2 Buckeyes defeated the No. 7 Nittany Lions for the second straight year by a score of 12-7. The teams also met in the 1980 Fiesta Bowl, the only postseason matchup between the pair. In this game, Penn State (10-2) defeated Ohio State (9-3) by a score of 31-19. The two teams wouldn’t face off again until Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993.

Once they became conference foes, the first seven matchups featured at least one of the duo ranked inside the top five each year. It proved to be a very equal rivalry as Ohio State led 4-3 during in-conference matchups. At the end of the 20th century, Penn State led the all-time matchup 9-6, with its largest win streak being the first four games of the series. Its largest victory also came during this time, when the No. 1 Nittany Lions beat the No. 21 Buckeyes by a score of 63-14 win in 1994.

Starting in 2000, Ohio State began to take control of the series. The Buckeyes won 18 of the last 23 meetings with the Nittany Lions. Ohio State is currently on its longest win streak of the rivalry at six games. Although many resulted in close battles down the last whistle, the Buckeyes have continuously emerged victorious.

A season ago, No. 13 Penn State found some success against No. 2 Ohio State, leading 14-13 at the half. Quarterback Sean Clifford threw for 371 yards and three touchdowns, while also throwing three interceptions.

Ohio State regained the lead in the third with a 40-yard Noah Ruggles field goal to make the score 16-14. In the fourth quarter, the Penn State offense began to move the ball again. Running back Kaytron Allen capped off a 13-play, 75-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown rush. Ohio State immediately answered and didn’t look back.

In the final nine minutes of game time, the Buckeyes outscored the Nittany Lions 28-10 en route to a 44-31 Ohio State victory. Ohio State defensive end JT Tuimoloau ended the game with a forced and recovered fumble and two interceptions, including a 14-yard pick-six with under three minutes to play which ultimately sealed the game for the Buckeyes.

With over 100 years of history between these teams, they are set for the next chapter. Penn State may be “unrivaled,” but when the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions face off, it is very much a rivalry.

Even after losing NFL standout quarterback C.J. Stroud, Ohio State still returns many key pieces from a year ago, including Tuimoloau and the nation’s top wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.

Two new faces will lead the teams’ respective groups come Saturday. Penn State’s Drew Allar and Ohio State’s Kyle McCord will lead their squads into this must-win situation to keep their teams’ College Football Playoff hopes alive. Penn State will aim to rewrite its recent history against an Ohio State team that has dominated in recent history.

College Gameday coverage will begin at 9 a.m. on ESPN, live from Columbus, and the game will streamed at noon on FOX.

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About the Author

Brady Miller

Brady is a senior public relations major who originates from the cornfields of Schuylkill County, PA. He spends most of his time watching the Philadelphia Phillies blow leads and the New England Patriots struggle to score points. When not watching sports, Brady is most likely "studying" or with his friends. Follow him on Twitter @_bMiLL_32 to see mostly retweets of whatever is going through Marlon Humphrey's head, or you can email him at [email protected].

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