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Penn State Nittany Lions football

Penn State Nittany Lions football
2015 Penn State Nittany Lions football team
First season 1887
Athletic director Sandy Barbour
Head coach James Franklin
2nd year, 14–8 (.636)
Other staff John Donovan (OC)
Bob Shoop (DC)
Home stadium Beaver Stadium
Stadium capacity 106,572
Stadium surface Grass
Location State College, Pennsylvania
Conference Big Ten
Division East
Past conferences Independent (1887–1992)
All-time record 856–378–42 (.687)
Postseason bowl record 28–15–2 (.644)
Claimed national titles 2 (1982, 1986)
Unclaimed national titles 12 (1887, 1894, 1909, 1911, 1912, 1920, 1921, 1947, 1968, 1969, 1973, 1994)
Conference titles 4 (PIFA 1891, Big Ten 1994, 2005, 2008)
Heisman winners 1
Consensus All-Americans 39

Navy blue and White

Fight song Fight On, State
Mascot Nittany Lion
Marching band Penn State Blue Band
Rivals Michigan State Spartans
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Pittsburgh Panthers
Ohio State Buckeyes

The Penn State Nittany Lions football team represents the Pennsylvania State University in college football. The Nittany Lions compete in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision as a member of the Big Ten Conference, which they joined in 1994 after playing as an Independent from their founding through 1993.[1][2][3]

Established in 1887, the Nittany Lions have achieved numerous on-field successes, the most notable of which include two consensus national championships (in 1982 and 1986), three Big Ten Conference Championships (in 1994, 2005 and 2008), and 45 appearances in college bowl games, with a postseason bowl record of 28–15–2. The team is also #8 all-time in total-wins, one game behind Oklahoma and Alabama.[4] The Nittany Lions play their home games at Beaver Stadium, located on-campus in University Park, Pennsylvania. With an official seating capacity of 106,572, Beaver Stadium is the second-largest stadium in the western hemisphere, behind only Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The team is currently coached by James Franklin.


  • History 1
    • Early history (1887–1917) 1.1
    • Hugo Bezdek years (1918–1929) 1.2
    • Bob Higgins years (1930–1948) 1.3
    • Joe Bedenk (1949) 1.4
    • Rip Engle years (1950–1965) 1.5
    • Joe Paterno era (1966–2011) 1.6
    • Bill O'Brien (2012–2013) 1.7
    • James Franklin (2014–present) 1.8
  • Current coaching staff 2
  • Traditions 3
    • Nittanyville 3.1
    • Success with Honor 3.2
    • Uniform 3.3
    • Captains 3.4
    • Linebacker U 3.5
  • Penn State child sex abuse scandal 4
  • Notable seasons 5
    • Perfect seasons 5.1
    • National championships 5.2
    • Conference championships 5.3
  • Season-by-season records 6
  • Coaching history 7
  • Bowl history 8
    • By year 8.1
    • By game 8.2
  • Rivalries 9
    • Michigan State 9.1
    • Minnesota 9.2
    • Pittsburgh 9.3
    • Ohio State 9.4
  • Individual award winners 10
    • Players 10.1
    • Coaches 10.2
    • Other awards 10.3
  • Current NFL players 11
  • College Football Hall of Fame inductees 12
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees 13
  • Future non-conference opponents 14
  • Charity and awareness efforts 15
  • References 16
  • External links 17


Early history (1887–1917)

Penn State played its first game in 1887,[5] but had no head coach for their first five years from 1887–1891.[5] They compiled a 12–8–1 record in these seasons, playing as an independent from 1887–1890 and then joined the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Football Association in 1891 for its only season[5] and won the conference with a 6–2 record, 4–1 in conference play.[5]

George Hoskins, Penn State's first head football coach

four seasons from 1892–1895 as head coach, and his .760 winning percentage ranks highest in program history.[6] His first team played its home game on the Old Main lawn on campus in State College, Pennsylvania, before the 500-seat Beaver Field opened in 1893.[6]

He was succeeded by Samuel B. Newton,[7] who posted a 12–14 (.462) record in three seasons, 1896–1898.[8]

Sam Boyle coached for only one year in 1899 and compiled a 4–6–1 record (.409).[9]

Pop Golden coached the Nittany Lions for three seasons from 1900–1902, tallying a record of 16–12–1 (.569).[10]

Daniel A. Reed took over for the 1903 season and went 5–3 (.625).[11]

Tom Fennell coached the Nittany Lions for five seasons from 1904–1908, posting a 33–17–1 (.657) record.[12] In 1907 the school adopted the Nittany Lion mascot, a mountain lion named after nearby Mount Nittany.[13]

Bill Hollenback took over the Nittany Lions as head coach for the 1909 season and went undefeated at 5–0–2,[14] but left for Missouri for 1910.[15] Bill's older brother Jack Hollenback took over for the 1910 season and went 5–2–1 (.688),[16] but Bill returned to Penn State for 1911–1914.[17] Bill went 23–9–2 in his second tenure for a combined record of 28–9–4 (.732).[14] In 1911 and 1912, his teams went 8–0–1 and 8–0 and were awarded retroactive national championships by the National Championship Foundation which are recognized by the NCAA.[14]

Head coach Dick Harlow brought a new form of defense, trying to go in-between or around offensive blockers rather than try to overpower them.[18] Harlow's Nittany Lions compiled a 20–8 (.714) record in his three seasons (1915–1917)[19] and was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach for his accomplishments.[18]

Hugo Bezdek years (1918–1929)

Hugo Bezdek was Penn State's head football coach for 12 seasons[20] and was the Nittany Lions' first athletics director.[21] Bezdek posted a 65–30–11 record,[20] which included two undefeated seasons and a berth in the 1922 Rose Bowl, a game they lost.[20] Bezdek's Nittany Lions posted a losing record in only two of Bezdek's seasons, going 1–2–1 in 1918 and 3–5–1 in 1928.[20] Bezdek retired after the 1929 season and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1954.[21]

Bob Higgins years (1930–1948)

Bob Higgins

Bob Higgins returned to his alma mater and served as Penn State's head football coach for 19 seasons.[22] He compiled a 91–57–11 overall record, which included 11 winning seasons and only five losing seasons.[22] Higgins' 1947 team tied SMU in the Cotton Bowl.[23] Higgins was forced to retire due to poor health following the 1948 season.[23] He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1954.[23]

Joe Bedenk (1949)

For one season, Joe Bedenk, also a Penn State alum, served as the Nittany Lions' head football coach.[24] He was promoted from offensive line coach after the retirement of his predecessor.[25] Bedenk posted a 5–4 record in his 1949,[24] his lone season as head coach, before requesting to return to his previous post as offensive line coach.[25]

Rip Engle years (1950–1965)

Rip Engle came to Penn State from Brown.[26][27] Engle posted a 104–48–4 record during his 16 season tenure as head coach and developed a game known as Angleball as a way for his players to maintain fitness in the off-season.[27][26] Engle never had a losing season at Penn State, and his 5–5 final season was his only non-winning season.[28] His 1959 and 1960 Nittany Lions teams won the Liberty Bowl, while his 1961 and 1962 teams reached the Gator Bowl, winning the first and losing the second.[28] Engle retired following the 1965 season and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1973.[26]

Joe Paterno era (1966–2011)

Joe Paterno

Penn State assistant Joe Paterno was promoted to head coach following the retirement of Engle.[25] Paterno spent 46 seasons as the Nittany Lions head football coach, the longest tenure of any FBS head coach and 16 more as an assistant, making his 62 total years coaching at Penn State the most of any coach at any school.[25] Under Paterno, Penn State played as an Independent from 1966–1992,[25] and he continued to coach them when they joined the Big Ten Conference in 1993–2011.[25] He also served as Penn State's athletics director from 1980–1982. His final record is 409–136–3[29] Paterno's Nittany Lions won national championships in 1982 and 1986,[29] posted non-losing records in all seasons but five,[29] and appeared in 37 bowl games with 24 wins.[29] Paterno's teams also won the Orange Bowl in 1968, 1969, 1973, and 2005,[29] the Fiesta Bowl in 1977, 1980, 1981, 1986, 1991, and 1996,[29] and the Sugar Bowl in 1982.[29] During Paterno's tenure, Penn State's athletics program, after a century as a Division I-A independent, joined the Big Ten Conference in June 1990.[30] Beaver Stadium was expanded six times during Paterno's tenure. Paterno was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006, and was a major reason why the longtime rule of waiting until retirement to be inducted into the Hall of Fame was changed to any coach over 75 years of age.[25] Players such as Kerry Collins, Charlie Zapiec, Matt Millen, Shane Conlan, Jack Ham, Dennis Onkotz, Franco Harris, Greg Buttle, Keith Dorney, John Cappelletti, Curt Warner, Larry Johnson, LaVar Arrington, and Ted Kwalick played collegiately for Joe Paterno.[31] Paterno won numerous coaching and sportsman honors during his long run at Penn State.[29]

Paterno was the FBS head football coach with most wins in history and in college sports until the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal involving longtime assistant Jerry Sandusky.[32] The scandal resulted in Paterno's firing in November 2011[32][33] and the loss of all wins from 1998–2011 (restored in January 2015), temporarily dropping Paterno from first to twelfth on the all-time wins list.[34] Paterno's statue outside Beaver Stadium was also taken down.[35] Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley finished out the 2011 season as interim head coach after Paterno's ouster.[36]

On January 16, 2015 the NCAA restored Joe Paterno's 111 vacated wins, making him, once again, the winningest coach in FBS college football history.[37]

Bill O'Brien (2012–2013)

Bill O'Brien

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien was hired as the 15th head football coach in Penn State history, taking over the scandal-ridden Nittany Lions football program in January 2012.[38] Early in O'Brien's tenure, the NCAA sanctioned Penn State with a four-season postseason ban and a loss of 40 scholarships due to the child sex abuse scandal.[39] O'Brien posted an 8–4 record in his first season as head coach of the Nittany Lions,[40] a much better record than most anticipated.

O'Brien's 2013 Nittany Lions team posted a 7–5 record in the second of four years they were ineligible for the postseason.[41] In January 2014, Bill O'Brien left Penn State to accept the head coaching position with the NFL's Houston Texans.[42]

James Franklin (2014–present)

On January 11, 2014, Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin was hired as the 16th head football coach in Penn State history. He is the first African American head football coach in Penn State History.[43] In Franklin's first year, the NCAA lifted Penn State's postseason ban and the Nittany Lions were bowl eligible. The Nittany Lions were named to the Pinstripe Bowl where they won against the Boston College Eagles on December 27, 2014 at Yankee Stadium.[44]

To start off the 2015 season, they lost to Temple 27-10, their first loss to the Owls since 1941. The loss was followed by five (5) victories against Buffalo, Rutgers (Beaver Stadium's first "Stripe Out"), San Diego State, Army and Indiana. The Nittany Lions then lost to Ohio State 38-10 in Columbus before having another road game against Maryland which ended in a 31-30 victory for Penn State. The victory against Maryland brought the Nittany Lions to six (6) wins, making them bowl eligible for the second year since the postseason ban was lifted. Following the victory against Maryland, Penn State then shut out the Illinois Fighting Illini 39-0 in the second to last home game of the 2015 season. The current win-loss record for Penn State in the 2015 season is 7-2.

Current coaching staff

Position Name First Year Alma mater
Head Coach James Franklin 2014 East Stroudsburg (1994)
Defensive Coordinator/Safeties Bob Shoop[45] 2014 Yale (1988)
Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends John Donovan[46] 2014 Johns Hopkins (1997)
Linebackers/Assistant Head Coach Brent Pry 2014 Buffalo (1993)
Running Backs/Special Teams Coordinator Charles Huff[45] 2014 Hampton (2005)
Quarterbacks/Passing Game Coordinator Ricky Rahne[45] 2014 Cornell (2002)
Wide Receivers/Offensive Recruiting Coordinator Josh Gattis 2014 Wake Forest (2006)
Cornerbacks/Defensive Recruiting Coordinator Terry Smith 2014 Penn State (1991)
Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator Herb Hand 2014 Hamilton College (1990)
Defensive Line Sean Spencer 2014 Clarion (1995)
Strength and Conditioning Dwight Galt 2014 Maryland
Consultant Jim Haslett 2015 Indiana(Pa.)



"Nittanyville", originally known as Paternoville, is the name attributed to the student tradition of camping out in front of Beaver Stadium prior to a home football game. Each week before a home game, students camp out in front of the stadium in order to hold their positions in line for front-row seats. Football players, the Blue Band, local food vendors and even the coaching staff frequently visit Nittanyville, pepping up the students as game days draw near. Nittanyville is governed by the student-run Nittanyville Coordination Committee.[47] The tradition was established during the 2005 football season, when students began setting up tents and "camping" in front of Beaver Stadium one week before the game with rival school Ohio State on October 8.[48]

Success with Honor

Joe Paterno was widely known for his "grand experiment" in which he challenged his players to be successful both on the field and in the classroom. In 2011, the Nittany Lion football team posted an 87% graduation rate, tied with Stanford for No. 10 overall among the nation's 120 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institutions, above the national average of 67%.[49]

The June 2012 conviction of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on multiple counts of child sexual abuse marred the "Success with Honor" image.[50] President Rodney Erickson, athletics director Dave Joyner, and head football coach Bill O'Brien, all of whom accepted their jobs in the wake of the scandal, have made statements in which they express commitment to maintaining integrity at the university and within the athletics programs.[51]

In 2012, a group of alumni and supporters established a non-profit organization (501.c.3 and registered trademark) that will build upon the "Success with Honor" motto. Their mission is to promote and support charitable endeavors as well as to inspire others to "Get in the Game." Success with Honor is a Social Network Community that has identified more than 60+ charities. Success with Honor helps individuals to identify and connect with causes they’d like to volunteer their skills, time, and/or money to. Similarly, SWH assists charities in finding individuals to meet their current needs.[52]


The team is widely noted for their simple game uniforms. They only wear white pants, and the jerseys are simple blue for home games, and white for away games.[53] The team is only allowed to wear simple black Nike shoes with white calf socks for game days, though blue tights are permitted underneath the white socks for cold weather games. The helmet is white with a blue stripe down the center, and a blue on white "Penn State" sticker covers up the forehead helmet logo. No team logos, conference logos, numbers, or other stickers are permitted on the helmet, though two Nike logos are on facemask visors that some players choose to wear. Penn State has started to wear bowl decals only starting with 1997 Fiesta Bowl. Before that, Penn State always declined the decals so they can play out of their simple game uniforms. The blue and white uniforms replaced pink and black ones in 1890.[54]

The uniforms became even simpler for the 2011 season, as the white cuffs and collars on the home jerseys and the corresponding blue cuffs and collars on the road jerseys were eliminated, leaving the jerseys solid blue and white, respectively.

In 2012 Penn State started wearing names on their uniforms for the first time as a way to note the players who stuck with the school through the scandal and a blue ribbon in support the victims of child abuse.[55]

In 2013 the Nittany Lion logo was added to the base of the jersey collar along with the Big Ten logo on the right side of the jersey.

Starting in 2015, the names that were added throughout the 2012–14 seasons to honor those who stayed with the program were removed and the team reverted to the traditional nameless jerseys while still retaining the Nittany Lion logo at the base of the jersey collar. The team also began sporting new Nike Elite 51 jerseys which feature a new design on the collars.[56] In addition, the team added the words Nittany Lions onto the back of the football helmets.


Captains are chosen by the team, with the head coach's approval. Being named a captain is an honor almost always given to a senior, but there are some notable exceptions: Linebacker Sean Lee was named a captain in the beginning of Spring practice in 2008, the beginning of his 4th year with the team. However, he suffered a torn ACL during spring practice, redshirted in 2008, and returned as a captain again in 2009. The most recent example of a "true" junior being named was Paul Posluszny, who was named a captain in both 2005 and 2006, his junior and senior years, respectively. The last time a junior was named captain before Posluszny was in 1968, when Steve Smear and Mike Reid were named captains during their junior years.[57] In 2014, Christian Hackenberg became the first true sophomore to be named team captain.[58]

Linebacker U

Penn State is often referred to as Linebacker U for its reputation of producing outstanding linebackers.

  • Dennis Onkotz was a two-time All American in 1968 and 1969, and played on two undefeated teams.[59]
  • Jack Ham finished his career with 251 tackles, blocked two punts, and went on to play on two undefeated teams. Ham later went on to the NFL, playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[59]
  • Charlie Zapiec a fourth round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys, went on the star in the Canadian Football League as a linebacker with the Montreal Alouettes coached by future NFL Legend Marv Levy. Charlie switched from Offensive Guard his senior years where he also achieve All-American Honors; in the 2 years he started as a Guard and the one year as a Linebacker he accumulated 34 wins, including 3 Major Bowl victories, while suffering only one loss - the best record for a starter in Penn State History.
  • Edward William O'Neil, an American football coach and former professional linebacker, played seven seasons in the National Football League (NFL). From 1970–1973, he played linebacker for coach Joe Paterno at Penn State. A three-year letterman, he was team captain of the Nittany Lions' undefeated 1973 team and was named an All-American that same season.
  • Greg Buttle was a linebacker during the 1973–1975 seasons, finishing with 305 tackles in his junior and senior year. He was drafted by the New York Jets and is a part of the All Jet team.
  • Shane Conlan was a two-time All-American and defensive MVP of the 1987 National Championship Fiesta Bowl. He was drafted No. 1 by the Bills in 1987, named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and was named to three straight Pro Bowls (1988–90).[59]
  • Lavar Arrington finished with 319 career tackles and 139 tackles for losses. He was later drafted 2nd overall by the Washington Redskins.[59]
  • Cameron Wake went on to capture MVP honors for the British Columbia Lions in the Canadian Football League before moving on to the Miami Dolphins and leading the National Football League in sacks during the 2010 season.[60]
  • Tamba Hali was the 20th overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft and led the AFC in sacks during the 2010 NFL season helping the Kansas City Chiefs reach the playoffs. He played Defensive End during his college career.[60]
  • Paul Posluszny played from 2003–2006. Posluszny won the Dick Butkus Award in 2005 and the Chuck Bednarik Award in 2005 and 2006. He finished with 372 tackles, and was drafted by the Buffalo Bills.[59]
  • Dan Connor finished his career as the all-time leading tackler for Penn State with 419 and was drafted by the Carolina Panthers.[59]
  • Sean Lee, graduating Penn State in 2009, is now starting inside linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys.[60]
  • NaVorro Bowman, drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round of the 2010 draft, ranked 7th in the league in tackles in 2011[61] and was named an AP first team All-Pro for his 2011 campaign.
  • Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges were "Co-Linebacker U" in 2012, both achieved over 95 tackles and both were drafted by the Minnesota Vikings.[62][63]

Penn State child sex abuse scandal

The Penn State child sex abuse scandal centered on then retired Pennsylvania State University football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's sexual assault of at two underage boys on or near university property. After an extensive grand jury investigation, Sandusky was indicted on 52 counts of child molestation dating from 1994 to 2009, though some speculate the abuse may date as far back as the 1970s.[64] The trial of Jerry Sandusky on 52 charges of sexual crimes against children started on June 11, 2012, at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania[65][66] and ended on the evening of June 22, 2012, when the jury found Sandusky guilty on 45 of the 48 counts against him.[67][68]

Several high-level school officials were charged with perjury,[69] suspended, or dismissed for allegedly covering up the incidents or failing to notify authorities. In the wake of the scandal, school president Graham Spanier was forced to resign, and head football coach Joe Paterno was fired without cause late in the season, while Sandusky maintained his innocence.[70]

Former FBI director Louis Freeh, whose firm was hired by the Penn State Board of Trustees to conduct an independent investigation into the scandal, concluded, after, ostensibly, conducting over 400 interviews and reviewing over 3.5 million documents, that Paterno, Spanier, Curley and Schultz had "repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the Board of Trustees, Penn State community, and the public at large."[71][72][73] In an interview conducted by Showtime's 60 Minutes Sports, the former Chief Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Frank Fina, who investigated and prosecuted Jerry Sandusky, stated that he found no evidence that Joe Paterno participated in a cover-up.[74]

On July 23, 2012, NCAA announced that it had fined the Penn State football program $60 million, levied a four-year ban from bowl games and vacated all of the program's 112 wins from 1998 to 2011. They were originally scheduled to lose 10 scholarships from the incoming classes in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, which would have been a loss of 40 total scholarships. They were set to have a maximum of 75 players on scholarship in 2013, then be down to 65 total scholarships for 2014, 2015 and 2016, before increasing back up to 75 in 2017 and return to a full allotment of 85 scholarships for the 2018 season.[75]

However, on September 24, 2013, the NCAA announced they were restoring 25 of the 40 scholarships to Penn State. After losing 10 scholarships from the 2013–2014 incoming class (they only brought in 15 players instead of the normal 25) and only having 75 total players on scholarship, Penn State will have five scholarships added back for 2014–15, so they can bring in 20 new players and have 80 total players on scholarship. They will be back up to the full complement of 25 new players and 85 total scholarships restocked for 2016–17, two years ahead of schedule. So in total they will have only lost 15 scholarships, compared to the original penalty of 40 scholarships.

The NCAA’s executive committee unanimously approved giving back the scholarships, ostensibly after a recommendation from former U.S. Senator

  • Official website

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The Penn State football team has worked in coordination with Uplifting Athletes, a non-profit organization, to raise awareness and funds for the Kidney Cancer Association. In 2003 the team turned their annual weight-lifting competition into a fund-raiser when a player’s father was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer. The event that is now known as Lift for Life, has raised more than $225,000 since its inception.[100]

Charity and awareness efforts


2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
vs Kent State vs Akron vs Appalachian State vs Idaho at Virginia Tech vs West Virginia at West Virginia vs Virginia Tech
at Pittsburgh vs Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh vs Pittsburgh
vs Temple vs Georgia State vs Kent State

Future non-conference opponents

Name Position NFL team(s) Year inducted
Jack Ham Linebacker Pittsburgh Steelers 1988
Franco Harris Running back Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks 1990
Mike Michalske Guard Green Bay Packers 1964
Lenny Moore Flanker/running back Baltimore Colts 1975
Mike Munchak Guard Houston Oilers 2001
Dave Robinson Linebacker Green Bay Packers 2013

Penn State is one of 11 schools with five or more inductees in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[98]

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees

Name Position Year inducted
Hugo Bezdek Coach 1954
John Cappelletti Halfback 1993
Shane Conlan Linebacker 2014
Keith Dorney Offensive tackle 2005
Rip Engle Coach 1973
Jack Ham Linebacker 1990
Dick Harlow Coach 1954
Bob Higgins Coach 1954
Glenn Killinger Quarterback 1971
Ted Kwalick Tight end 1989
Richie Lucas Quarterback 1986
Pete Mauthe Fullback 1957
Shorty Miller Quarterback 1974
Lydell Mitchell Running back 2004
Dennis Onkotz Linebacker 1995
Joe Paterno Coach 2007
Mike Reid Defensive tackle 1987
Glenn Ressler Center/guard 2001
Dave Robinson End 1997
Steve Suhey Guard 1985
Dexter Very End 1976
Curt Warner Halfback 2009
Harry Wilson Halfback 1973
[97].College Football Hall of Fame Including former head coach Joe Paterno, 22 Nittany Lion players and coaches have been selected for the

College Football Hall of Fame inductees

Player Team Position
NaVorro Bowman San Francisco 49ers Linebacker
Levi Brown Free Agent Offensive Tackle
Glenn Carson Arizona Cardinals Linebacker
Dan Connor Free Agent Linebacker
Jack Crawford Dallas Cowboys Defensive End
Robbie Gould Chicago Bears Placekicker
Tamba Hali Kansas City Chiefs Linebacker
Jordan Hill Seattle Seahawks Defensive Tackle
Josh Hull Free Agent Linebacker
Gerald Hodges Minnesota Vikings Linebacker
Dennis Landolt Free Agent Offensive Tackle
DaQuan Jones Tennessee Titans Defensive End
Sean Lee Dallas Cowboys Linebacker
Michael Mauti New Orleans Saints Linebacker
Matt McGloin Oakland Raiders Quarterback
Derek Moye Tennessee Titans Wide Receiver
Jordan Norwood Denver Broncos Wide Receiver
Jared Odrick Jacksonville Jaguars Defensive End
Rich Ohrnberger San Diego Chargers Guard
Paul Posluszny Jacksonville Jaguars Linebacker
Andrew Quarless Green Bay Packers Tight End
Silas Redd Washington Redskins Running Back
Allen Robinson Jacksonville Jaguars Wide Receiver
Evan Royster Free Agent Running Back
A.Q. Shipley Arizona Cardinals Center
Mickey Shuler, Jr. Atlanta Falcons Tight End
Devon Still Free Agent Defensive Tackle
Nathan Stupar Atlanta Falcons Linebacker
Andrew Szczerba Free Agent Tight End
Johnnie Troutman San Diego Chargers Guard
John Urschel Baltimore Ravens Center
Cameron Wake Miami Dolphins Linebacker
Stefen Wisniewski Jacksonville Jaguars Guard
Jesse James Pittsburgh Steelers Tight End

There are currently 33 Penn State football players playing in the National Football League:[96]

Current NFL players

Other awards



Individual award winners

The Penn State and Ohio State rivalry began before Penn State was a member of the Big Ten. The first four meetings in the series were stretched out over the course of 53 seasons between 1912 and 1964 which Penn State won all of. Then Ohio State won in 1975 in a game held in Columbus, Ohio and again in 1976 during the first ever match-up between the two teams in State College, Pennsylvania. Penn State and Ohio State would meet again in 1980 in their first and only postseason bowl, the 1980 Fiesta Bowl, which Penn State won. After the Fiesta Bowl, the two teams would not meet again until Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993. Since then, the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes have played each other annually. The official record of the series is 16–13, with Ohio State leading the series.

Ohio State

Pitt and Penn State are scheduled to renew their rivalry with a 4-game home-and-home series starting in 2016 and continuing through 2019. The first and third games of the series will be played at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, in 2016 and 2018, with the second and fourth games taking place in 2017 and 2019 at Beaver Stadium in State College.

Of the 96 games played between the two, 72 have been held in Pittsburgh. Twenty-two have been played in State College. Two games, in 1900 and 1901, were played in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

The Penn State–Pittsburgh football rivalry is a currently dormant series between in-state rivals Penn State and Pittsburgh. Once considered the fiercest and most important college football rivalry north of the Mason–Dixon line, this rivalry was first played in 1893 when Penn State won 32–0. The most recent game in the series was played in 2000 with Pitt winning 12–0 over Penn State at Three Rivers Stadium. Penn State holds a 50–42–4 record in the series [82]


Due to the latest changes in the Big Ten's scheduling procedures, the series will be held approximately two times every seven years starting in 2014; this will change to three times every seven years when the Big Ten adds another conference game effective 2016. Penn State will next play Minnesota in the 2016 football season.

Since 1993, Penn State has played Minnesota for the Governor's Victory Bell sporadically in their Big Ten schedule. Penn State led 8–5 against the Golden Gophers after the last contest in which Minnesota won 24–10 in 2013.

The Nittany Lions taking the field against Minnesota in 2005.


Since 1993, Penn State played Michigan State for the Land Grant Trophy. Michigan State currently holds possession of the trophy after winning the 2014 contest. Penn State has a 13–6 record in these trophy games. The series is tied 14–14–1. Beginning with the league's expansion and new division format in 2011, the two teams were in different divisions and did not play annually, however this series will renew in the 2014 season and continue yearly as they will both be in the Big Ten's Eastern Division.

Michigan State


Bowl # Appearances Record
Alamo Bowl 2 1999, 2008 2–0
Aloha Bowl 1 1983 1–0
Blockbuster Bowl 2 1990, 1993 0 -2
Citrus Bowl/Capital One Bowl 5 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2010 2–3
Cotton Bowl Classic 3 1948, 1972, 1975 2–0–1
Fiesta Bowl 6 1977, 1980, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997 6–0
Gator Bowl 4 1961, 1962, 1967, 1976 1–2–1
Holiday Bowl 1 1989 1–0
Liberty Bowl 3 1959, 1960, 1979 3–0
Orange Bowl 5 1969, 1970, 1974, 1986, 2005 4–1
Outback Bowl 4 1996, 1999, 2007, 2011 3–1
Pinstripe Bowl 1 2014 1-0
TicketCity Bowl 1 2012 0–1
Rose Bowl 3 1923, 1994, 2009 1–2
Sugar Bowl 4 1972, 1976, 1979, 1983 1–3

By game

Season Bowl Coach Opponent Result
1922 Rose Bowl Hugo Bezdek USC L, 3–14
1947 Cotton Bowl Classic Bob Higgins SMU Tied, 13–13
1959 Liberty Bowl Rip Engle Alabama W, 7–0
1960 Liberty Bowl Rip Engle Oregon W, 14–12
1961 Gator Bowl Rip Engle Georgia Tech W, 30–15
1962 Gator Bowl Rip Engle Florida L, 7–17
1967 Gator Bowl Joe Paterno Florida State Tied, 17–17
1968 Orange Bowl Joe Paterno Kansas W, 15–14
1969 Orange Bowl Joe Paterno Missouri W, 10–3
1971 Cotton Bowl Classic Joe Paterno Texas W, 30–6
1972 Sugar Bowl Joe Paterno Oklahoma L, 0–14
1973 Orange Bowl Joe Paterno Louisiana State W, 16–9
1974 Cotton Bowl Classic Joe Paterno Baylor W, 41–20
1975 Sugar Bowl Joe Paterno Alabama L, 6–13
1976 Gator Bowl Joe Paterno Notre Dame L, 9–20
1977 Fiesta Bowl Joe Paterno Arizona State W, 42–30
1978 Sugar Bowl Joe Paterno Alabama L, 7–14
1979 Liberty Bowl Joe Paterno Tulane W, 9–6
1980 Fiesta Bowl Joe Paterno Ohio State W, 31–19
1981 Fiesta Bowl Joe Paterno USC W, 26–10
1982 Sugar Bowl Joe Paterno Georgia W, 27–23
1983 Aloha Bowl Joe Paterno Washington W, 13–10
1985 Orange Bowl Joe Paterno Oklahoma L, 10–25
1986 Fiesta Bowl Joe Paterno Miami (FL) W, 14–10
1987 Citrus Bowl Joe Paterno Clemson L, 10–35
1989 Holiday Bowl Joe Paterno BYU W, 50–39
1990 Blockbuster Bowl Joe Paterno Florida State L, 17–24
1991 Fiesta Bowl Joe Paterno Tennessee W, 42–17
1992 Blockbuster Bowl Joe Paterno Stanford L, 3–24
1993 Citrus Bowl Joe Paterno Tennessee W, 31–13
1994 Rose Bowl Joe Paterno Oregon W, 38–20
1995 Outback Bowl Joe Paterno Auburn W, 43–14
1996 Fiesta Bowl Joe Paterno Texas W, 38–15
1997 Citrus Bowl Joe Paterno Florida L, 6–21
1998 Outback Bowl Joe Paterno Kentucky W, 26–14
1999 Alamo Bowl Joe Paterno Texas A&M W, 24–0
2002 Capital One Bowl Joe Paterno Auburn L, 9–13
2005 Orange Bowl Joe Paterno Florida State W, 26–23 3OT
2006 Outback Bowl Joe Paterno Tennessee W, 20–10
2007 Alamo Bowl Joe Paterno Texas A&M W, 24–17
2008 Rose Bowl Joe Paterno USC L, 24–38
2009 Capital One Bowl Joe Paterno LSU W, 19–17
2010 Outback Bowl Joe Paterno Florida L, 24–37
2011 TicketCity Bowl Tom Bradley Houston L, 14–30
2014 Pinstripe Bowl James Franklin Boston College W, 31–30 OT
Games: 45 Wins: 28 Losses: 15 Ties: 2

By year

Coach Joe Paterno was responsible for most of these bids and victories, compiling more appearances (37) than any other coach in college football history en route to his bowl record of 24–12–1 (.662). Paterno also has a record of 14–5–0 (.737) in "major" bowls and is the only coach to have won all five major college bowls during his career.

Penn State has earned invitations to 45 bowl games. The Nittany Lions have compiled a bowl record of 28–15–2 (.644), including a 14–6–1 (.690) record in the major bowls (Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, and Cotton).

Bowl history

Coach Years Seasons Record Pct. Cnf. Record Pct. Cnf. Titles Bowls Nat. Titles
No coach 1887–1891 5 12–8–1 .595 4–1–0 .800 1
George Hoskins 1892–1895 4 17–4–4 .760
Samuel Newton 1896–1898 3 12–14–0 .462
Sam Boyle 1899 1 4–6–1 .409
Pop Golden 1900–1902 3 16–12–1 .569
Daniel A. Reed 1903 1 5–3–0 .625
Tom Fennell 1904–1908 5 33–17–1 .657
Bill Hollenback 1909, 1911–1914 5 28–9–4 .732
Jack Hollenback 1910 1 5–2–1 .688
Dick Harlow 1915–1917 3 20–8–0 .714
Hugo Bezdek 1918–1929 12 65–30–11 .665 1
Bob Higgins 1930–1948 19 91–57–11 .607 1
Joe Bedenk 1949 1 5–4–0 .556
Rip Engle 1950–1965 16 104–48–4 .679 4
Joe Paterno 1966–2011 45 409–136–3 .749 95–54–0 .638 3 37 2
Tom Bradley 2011–2012 <1 1–3 .250 1–2 .333 1
Bill O'Brien 2012–2013 2 15–9 .625 10–6 .625
James Franklin 2014– 2nd season 14–8 .636 6–7 .462 1


1887–2014 127 856–378–42 .687 116–70–0 .624 4 45 2[81]

Coaching history

Season-by-season records

Penn State then played as an independent again until joining the Big Ten Conference in 1990 and beginning play in 1993. Penn State then won its first Big Ten championship in 1994, and they won two more in 2005 and 2008.

On September 26, 1891, the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Football Association (PIFA) was formed. The PIFA consisted of Bucknell, Dickinson, Franklin and Marshall, Haverford, Penn State and Swarthmore. Penn State won the championship with a 4–1–0 PIFA record losing only to Bucknell (Bucknell's record was 3–1–1). The PIFA dissolved prior to the 1892 season.

Penn State played as an independent from 1887 through 1890.

Conference championships

The suite boxes on the east side of Beaver Stadium, with the highlighted years (undefeated and championship seasons) added in 2006

1994 • (Billingsley Report, DeVold, Foundation for the Analysis of Competitions and Tournaments, Massey Ratings, Matthews Grid Ratings, National Championship Foundation, New York Times, Sagarin Ratings)

1981 • (Dunkel System, Loren Maxwell, Soren Sorenson, The Fleming System)

1969 • (Foundation for the Analysis of Competitions and Tournaments, Massey Ratings)

1912 • (National Championship Foundation)

1911 • (National Championship Foundation)

Other national championships selections:

Year Coach Selector Record Bowl
1982 Joe Paterno AP, Coaches 11–1 Won Sugar
1986 Joe Paterno AP, Coaches 12–0 Won Fiesta
Total National Titles 2

Penn State has won two consensus national championships, both under Joe Paterno's tenure as coach.

National championships


Penn State has had seven undefeated, untied seasons in its history since the program started in 1887:

Perfect seasons

Notable seasons

Several lawsuits were filed against NCAA related to the levy of penalties. In September 2014 the NCAA, under the auspices of favorable reports from Mitchell, announced that Penn State would be eligible for the 2014 postseason and all scholarships restored in 2015.[77] The team's wins and records that had previously been vacated due to the scandal were restored, pending full approval, as part of a legal settlement in January 2015.[78][79]


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