Indiana got paid. Penn State got the win.
The Hoosiers collected a $3 million paycheck to move their 2010 home game against the Nittany Lions to FedEx Field, only a 200-mile drive from State College.
As John Black ’62 noted in The Football Letter, “Penn State was happy to oblige because the Lions hadn’t played in front of their huge fan base in the Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia area since trouncing Maryland, 70-7, at Byrd Stadium in 1993.”
The Nittany Lions earned a similar result against the Hoosiers, though with a much closer result. The 41-24 final score capped a back-and-forth game that was tied late in the third quarter, until Penn State’s Andrew Dailey blocked a punt “that Jamie Van Fleet scooped and scampered 21 yards to score the turning-point touchdown,” Black wrote.
The game also represented something of a reprieve for fans, whose closest drive at that time was Ohio State, about 320 miles away. Michigan and Michigan State were within somewhat reasonable driving distance, though beyond that, fans needed to book a flight to see the Nittany Lions on the road.
This was years before Maryland and Rutgers joined the conference, so it’s not a surprise that Penn State fans comprised about three-quarters of the stadium, as Black estimated.
Other contributions for Penn State included Matt McGloin posting his first career 300-yard passing game during his redshirt sophomore campaign, completing 22-of-31 passes for 315 yards and two scores. Northern Virginia native Evan Royster—the program’s all-time leading rusher—totaled 48 yards and a touchdown on the ground, and Silas Reed also added a rushing touchdown.
Brett Brackett and Derek Moye caught touchdowns from McGloin, with the lead photo of The Football Letter highlighting Moye picking up 27 rushing yards on an end-around.
Penn State struggled throughout 2010, finishing the regular season at 7-5, yet still garnering a New Year’s Day bowl. The Nittany Lions lost to Florida 37-24 in the Outback Bowl, in a game fans might recall as the last contest Urban Meyer coached for the Gators.
Going back to FedEx field, it was the second time the teams played each other in an NFL stadium, including the old RCA Dome in 2000, as Black noted.
We’re still partial to Beaver Stadium, which will host the teams’ next matchup, and Saturday’s contest should be a good one.
Even with last week’s loss, Penn State remains in the Top 10 of the College Football Playoff standings, and Indiana is ranked in the AP poll for the first time since 1994.
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John Black was not correct in stating that the Nittany Lions had only played in the RCA Dome and FedEx Field (NFL stadiums), as of the 2010 season, as referenced in this post. Penn State also played in the Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium, to begin the ’83, ’91, ’96 and ’00 seasons.
Thanks for the note, Kurt. Yes, you’re correct, and John noted in the letter that Penn State had played in a variety of NFL stadiums over the years. I meant it was the second time Penn State and Indiana played each other in an NFL stadium, and I updated the story to be more clear. Appreciate the feedback and the interest in the story.
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