Ohio State–Penn State rivalry

Ohio State–Penn State rivalry
Ohio State Buckeyes–Penn State Nittany Lions
First meeting Penn State, 37–0 (1912)
Last meeting Penn State, 20-14 (2011)
Next meeting October 27, 2012
Number of meetings 27
All-time series Series Tied, 13-13* *2010 vacated win not included
Largest victory Penn State, 63–14 (1994)
Current streak Penn State, 1
Longest PSU win streak 4 (1912, 1956, 1963–1964)
Longest OSU win streak 3 (2002–2004)
At Ohio State Ohio State leads, 8*–7 *2010 vacated win not included
At Penn State Series tied, 5–5
Bowl games Penn State leads, 1–0

The Ohio State–Penn State rivalry is a rivalry in the Big Ten and college football between The Pennsylvania State University and The Ohio State University. Before Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1990, Ohio State and Penn State only played eight times, the last of which was in the 1980 Fiesta Bowl. After Penn State joined the Big Ten, the rivalry continued as an annual event. Recently several of the Ohio State–Penn State rivalry games have played at least a hand in deciding the conference champion.[citation needed]



1912–1980: Pre-Big Ten era

Penn State won the first four meetings in the series, however these meetings spread across 53 seasons, between 1912 and 1964. The first ever match-up was held in Columbus, Ohio in November 1912. Penn State had just come off a 8–0–1 season in 1911. All of the experts had picked Ohio State to win this game in a blowout.[citation needed] However, it was the Nittany Lions shutting the Buckeyes out, 37–0.

It would not be until 1956 when Penn State made a return trip to Columbus, however when they did they won the second meeting between the schools, 7–6. Penn State would win two more games at Ohio Stadium before Ohio State won a game in 1975. The first ever match-up of the two held in State College, Pennsylvania was in 1976 where Ohio State beat Penn State 12–7. Penn State won in 1978 back in Columbus.

In 1980, the two schools played in their first and only postseason bowl, the 1980 Fiesta Bowl. The Ohio State Buckeyes were 9–3, while the Penn State Nittany Lions were 10–2. The Penn State Nittany Lions won at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona 31–19. As Ohio State and Penn State now play in the same conference, it is unlikely for the two schools to face off in another bowl game.[citation needed]

1993–2000: Penn State enters the Big Ten

Following the 1980 Fiesta Bowl, Penn State and Ohio State did not meet again until Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993. This officially started the rivalry between these two teams.[citation needed] From 1993 to the present, the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions have played annually. Ohio State won the first conference meeting, 24–6 after a close 7–6 first quarter. Ohio State has won 11 of the matchups, while Penn State has won six. The largest margin of victory for ether teams came in 1994 when Penn State beat Ohio State 63–14. Interestingly following this defeat, an Ohio State sportswriter dropped Penn State from #1 to #2 in the AP Poll. In 1995, the Nittany Lions were the losing team, losing 28–25 to Ohio State. In 1996, the Buckeyes beat the Nittany Lions 38–7 in a game that some picked Penn State to win.[citation needed] The Nittany Lions got revenge next year as Penn State, ranked No. 1 at the time and into November before losing to Michigan, came back from 27–17 to win 31–27. The two teams split the next two, and Ohio State won in 2000 45–6. That was the most lopsided Ohio State win over Penn State and the second biggest margin of victory for either team.

2001–2010: Paterno vs. Tressel

The decade of the 2000s saw several close games between the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions, as they put long time Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, against Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel. Ohio State went 6–3[1] during this period. What would have been the Buckeyes' seventh win in 2010, along with that entire season, was vacated as a result of players receiving improper benefits. The two teams were perennially near the top of the Big Ten standings.[citation needed] Ohio State won six[1] Big Ten titles (2002, 2005–2009), while Penn State won two titles (2005 and 2008, both shared with Ohio State).

The 2001 game was significant because it gave Paterno his 324th career win. Penn State was suffering through a dismal season with a 1–4 start with Matt Senaca leading the way. Senaca was soon benched in this game where Ohio State climbed to a 27–9 lead and promising freshman[citation needed] Zack Mills helped Penn State come back and nearly saved their season (Penn State finished 5–6). The following year, Penn State would very nearly beat Ohio State in the Horseshoe, only losing 13–7 to the eventual national champions. In 2003, Penn State had a dismal season but actually looked like the better team against the Buckeyes as they took a 17–7 lead at one point. Ohio State came back to win 21–20 with a last second field goal falling just short. Ohio State won the next game 21–10 despite being outscored 10–7 offensively. That game was only one of two times that the Nittany Lions scored double digits at Ohio Stadium since joining the Big Ten in 1993.

In 2005, Penn State was an underdog[citation needed] despite trouncing then-No. 18 Minnesota 44–14 the week before and being undefeated. However, Penn State played defense and shut down the Buckeye ground game.[citation needed] The 2005 teams met for what became the deciding game for the Big Ten championship, Penn State upset the then-favored Buckeyes 17–10 in State College, with Penn State finishing No. 3 in both polls and Ohio State finishing No. 4 themselves. Penn State went on to lose to Michigan next week in a controversial[citation needed] 27–25 game but went on to win out the rest of the way as Ohio State won out the remainder of the way, including a come-from-behind win over Michigan 25–21. This resulted in the two teams sharing the Big Ten title. Penn State defeated ACC champion Florida State 26–23 in the Orange Bowl as Ohio State defeated Notre Dame 34–20 in the Fiesta Bowl.

The 2006 game has a deceptive final score, Penn State led 3–0 and was a fullback fumble away from leading 10–0, but missed a field goal early in the third that would have made it 6–0, Ohio State struck back and went up 7–3, early in the fourth quarter, Ohio State's Troy Smith avoided a sack and threw the ball downfield, it was nearly intercepted but Brian Robiskie caught it for a touchdown. Penn State drove down to the one yard line, but a false start penalty pushed them back, forcing them to kick a field goal. Still, with the score 14–6, the Nittany Lions drove down the field and nearly scored the game tying touchdown, but with two minutes left, Malcolm Jenkins intercepted an Anthony Morelli pass and ran it back for a touchdown to make it 21–6. Penn State made the same mistake again with one minute left, making it 28–6. In the 2007 game, Ohio State came back from an early 7–3 deficit to take a 17–7 halftime lead and eventually winning 37–17.

The 2008 meeting between the two teams saw the third ranked Nittany Lions won 13–6 against the 10th ranked Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium. This game turned out to be the deciding factor in giving Penn State a berth in the Rose Bowl; the teams shared the Big Ten title, but the Lions were chosen ahead of Ohio State due to their head-to-head win. Before that victory, Penn State had a seven game road losing streak to the Buckeyes, and interestingly enough, Penn State has yet to score 14 or more points in Columbus since joining the Big Ten. Regardless, the Lions did not turn the ball over, while Ohio State did twice. The 2009 meeting also played a role in the Big Ten championship, with both teams tied for first in conference at the time since previously unbeaten Iowa lost to Northwestern. With the roles reversed, the visitors, Ohio State, won a stubborn defensive struggle over the home team 24–7, In what Kirk Herbstriet called "rope-a-dope" offensive strategy for both teams.[citation needed] This time, Penn State turned the ball over twice and Ohio State did not turn it over once.

In 2010, the Buckeyes were listed as huge favorites against a 6–3 Penn State team. Penn State had other ideas, however, rolling to a 14–3 lead at halftime, with Penn State QB Matt McGloin throwing the first touchdown passes against Ohio State since Joe Pateno became head coach. Ohio State rallied to retake the lead and win, with the aid of two Matt McGloin interceptions, won 38–14.

After the 2010 season, it was revealed that several Ohio State players, most notably QB Terrelle Pryor received improper benefits. An investigation into the determined that Tressel had knowledge of the situation but failed to notify the University or the NCAA. This resulted in Tressel resigning from the program. As part of a self-imposed sanction, Ohio State vacated all of its wins from the season, including its win over Penn State, its Big Ten Title, and Sugar Bowl appearance.


2011 begins a new era in the rivalry. With the addition of Nebraska into the Big Ten, the conference split into two six-team divisions. Both Ohio State and Penn State were placed in the "Leaders" Division and will continue to play each other annually. The 2011 season also marks a new era for the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions, as Luke Fickell was named the interim head coach for the season after Tressel's resignation and Tom Bradley after longtime Penn State head coach Joe Paterno was fired 9 games into the season following the uncovering of the Penn State sex abuse scandal.

Game results

Ohio State victories are shaded red. Penn State victories are shaded in blue. Vacated victories are shaded in gray

Date Site Winning team Losing team Series Attendance
November 17, 1898 Columbus Penn State 37 Ohio State 0 PSU 1–0
October 20, 1956 Columbus Penn State 7 Ohio State 6 PSU 2–0
November 9, 1963 Columbus Penn State 10 Ohio State 7 PSU 3–0
November 7, 1964 Columbus Penn State 27 Ohio State 0 PSU 4–0
September 20, 1975 Columbus Ohio State 17 Penn State 9 PSU 4–1
September 18, 1976 State College Ohio State 12 Penn State 7 PSU 4–2
September 16, 1978 Columbus Penn State 19 Ohio State 0 PSU 5–2
December 26, 1980 Tempe, AZ1 Penn State 31 Ohio State 19 PSU 6–2
October 30, 1993 Columbus Ohio State 24 Penn State 6 PSU 6–3 95,060
October 29, 1994 State College Penn State 63 Ohio State 14 PSU 7–3 97,079
October 7, 1995 State College Ohio State 28 Penn State 25 PSU 7–4 96,655
October 5, 1996 Columbus #3 Ohio State 38 #4 Penn State 7 PSU 7–5 94,241
October 11, 1997 State College Penn State 31 Ohio State 27 PSU 8–5 97,282
October 3, 1998 Columbus #1 Ohio State 28 #7 Penn State 9 PSU 8–6 93,479
October 16, 1999 State College Penn State 23 #17 Ohio State 10 PSU 9–6 97,007
September 23, 2000 Columbus #14 Ohio State 45 Penn State 6 PSU 9–7 98,144
October 27, 2001 State College Penn State 29 Ohio State 27 PSU 10–7 108,327
October 26, 2002 Columbus #4 Ohio State 13 #17 Penn State 7 PSU 10–8 105,103
November 1, 2003 State College #8 Ohio State 21 Penn State 20 PSU 10–9 108,276
October 30, 2004 Columbus Ohio State 21 Penn State 10 TIE 10–10 104,947
October 8, 2005 State College #18 Penn State 17 #6 Ohio State 10 PSU 11–10 109,839
September 23, 2006 Columbus #1 Ohio State 28 Penn State 6 TIE 11–11 105,266
October 27, 2007 State College #1 Ohio State 37 #25 Penn State 17 OSU 12–11 110,134
October 25, 2008 Columbus #3 Penn State 13 #10 Ohio State 6 TIE 12–12 105,711
November 7, 2009 State College #15 Ohio State 24 #11 Penn State 7 OSU 13–12 110,033
November 13, 20102 Columbus #8 Ohio State 38 #11 Penn State 14 OSU 13–12 105,466
November 19, 2011 Columbus #21 Penn State 20 Ohio State 14 TIE 13-13 105,493

1 1980 Fiesta Bowl
2 Win vacated by Ohio State


  1. ^ a b This does not include the 2010 season, in which all wins were vacated by Ohio State in July 2011

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