History of Penn State on College Gameday
In what will be the sixth appearance of the Penn State Nittany Lions on ESPN’s College Gameday, the fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes come into town for the marquee matchup of the weekend in college football. Penn State holds a 7-11 overall record in College Gameday games, yet a 3-2 record when hosting this television spectacle.
The Nittany Lions first hosted in 1999 against The University of Arizona, winning by a score of 41-7. Arizona came into the highly anticipated matchup ranked fourth in the nation, fresh off a 12-1 season that culminated in a Holiday Bowl victory over Nebraska. Nonetheless, the third-ranked Nittany Lions and their raucous home crowd proved to be too much as their offense ran for 262 yards. The Penn State defense was outstanding as well with linebacker LaVar Arrington and defensive end Courtney Brown helping to hold Arizona running back Trung Canidate to 31 yards on 10 carries.
Gameday would return in 2005 to witness its first whiteout game, as the Nittany Lions would host future Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith and the sixth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. Neither team showcased a strong offense in this primetime showcase with Penn State mustering less than 200 yards of total offense and the Buckeyes’ Smith passing for only 139 yards. Defense proved key in this 17-10 Penn State victory, with the memory of defensive end Tamba Hali’s 4th quarter sack of Smith etched in the minds of Nittany Lions fans across the country. Hali also forced a fumble on the play, leading to a recovery by defensive tackle Scott Paxson that sealed the game for Penn State.
Two years later, Ohio State would return to Happy Valley ranked number one in the country, seeking revenge for their previous College Gameday defeat. The Buckeyes’ offense proved too powerful in a 37-17 victory, led by running back Chris “Beanie” Wells’ 133 yards rushing, as well as quarterback Todd Boeckman’s 253 yards passing and three touchdowns through the air. Penn State never threatened after the first quarter, courtesy of anemic quarterback play by Anthony Morelli and an inability to stop Ohio State’s high-powered offense.
On a rainy September night in 2009, Penn State welcomed the Iowa Hawkeyes, the bearer of Penn State’s sole regular-season loss in 2008, all but ruining any thoughts of a national championship game berth. Nonetheless, the Nittany Lions came out firing, jumping out to a 10-0 first quarter lead via a 79-yard touchdown pass by Darryl Clark to wide receiver Chaz Powell. The Hawkeyes’ defense would tighten up for the remainder of the game, holding Penn State scoreless the rest of the way and coming out victorious with a 21-10 road victory. Special teams proved equally as important as in 2008 with a Penn State blocked punt in the 4th quarter of this game leading to an Iowa touchdown that would give all necessary momentum to the Hawkeyes.
After an eight-year hiatus, Gameday would return once more to University Park in 2017 for the highly anticipated matchup between the 19th-ranked Michigan Wolverines and second-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions. What was a close game in the first half would turn into a blowout in the second as Penn State emerged victorious by a final score of 42-13. Penn State’s quarterback Trace McSorley dazzled, accounting for five touchdowns total and 358 yards of total offense. Michigan’s defense initially came ready for the daunting task at hand, going into halftime down 21-13. The Nittany Lions’ offense simply couldn’t be contained, accounting for 506 total yards in what would be the most lopsided win in whiteout history.
ESPN’s College Gameday will return to the front of Old Main for the second time after previously being situated between Beaver Stadium and the Bryce Jordan Center. The broadcast will start at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN.
Andrew Destin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.