Penn State Football Aiming To Extend 16-Game Win Streak Against Rutgers
After Penn State’s hopes of a Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff berth were shattered last weekend, it plans to get back on track against a conference opponent that has historically struggled against the Nittany Lions.
Penn State meets Rutgers for the 34th time in series history, holding a 31-2 all-time record against the Scarlet Knights. The Nittany Lions are in the midst of a 16-game winning streak, the longest of the series.
One of the two Rutgers victories came in this series’ opening matchup that occurred over a century ago. In 1918, the Rutgers Queensmen were a national powerhouse. They carried a 4-0 record into State College having yet to surrender a single point so far that season. The Queensmen were led by All-American Paul Robeson, the same Robeson that the HUB’s Paul Robeson Cultural Center at Penn State is named after. Although the Nittany Lions broke the Queensmen’s scoreless defensive streak, Rutgers continued its undefeated season with a 26-3 victory.
The two teams didn’t meet again until 1950. In Joe Paterno’s first season as an assistant coach at Penn State, the Nittany Lions roared back from a 14-6 halftime deficit to defeat the Queensmen 18-14.
There was another 27-year intermission until the next matchup in this series. In the 1977 meeting, Penn State began its dominance against the now-Scarlet Knights with a 45-7 win. Spanning over the next 10 seasons, the Nittany Lions won all eight meetings. This brought the series to a lopsided 10-1 record in favor of Penn State.
In 1988, Penn State was regarded as a national powerhouse of its own. The Scarlet Knights were led by head coach Dick Anderson, who was previously an assistant under Paterno. Rutgers was in control for most of the game, leading 21-10 after three quarters. After the Nittany Lions’ starting quarterback Tom Bill was injured and taken out of the game, backup Tony Sacca led a 90-yard touchdown drive to put the game at 21-16, giving Penn State a chance for a comeback victory.
With just three minutes remaining, Sacca led another long drive to the Rutgers three-yard line. The Scarlet Knights’ defense stopped the surging Nittany Lions in their tracks, giving Rutgers its second and most recent victory in this series.
Penn State has exerted pure dominance since 1988. The Nittany Lions have won 16 straight games, with just one resulting in a one-possession score. In 2014, Penn State spoiled Rutgers’ first-ever in-conference game as a member of the Big Ten by rallying from down 10 points to win 13-10 and move to a 3-0 record.
A season ago, the Nittany Lions continued the tradition by winning the yearly game by the largest margin in series history. A shaky first quarter, which found the Nittany Lions ahead 14-10, was overcome by scoring 41 unanswered points throughout the final three quarters. Penn State went on to beat Rutgers 55-10.
This Saturday, Penn State will attempt to put its season back on track against an opponent it has historically dominated. The Nittany Lions 2023 home finale will take place against the Scarlet Knights at noon on Saturday, November 18, at Beaver Stadium. Folks can tune in to the matchup on FS1.
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About the Author
The Nittany Lions will face an added challenge bouncing back from a loss with new playcallers this weekend.
The Nittany Lions haven’t won in Ann Arbor since 2019.
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