Prior to the 2014 defeat to Maryland — its first season in the Big Ten — Penn State was unbeaten in its last 29 games against the Terrapins.
The lone minor blemish in that streak was a 13-13 tie in Baltimore, which was the Nittany Lions’ last tie in program history.
On Oct. 24, 2015, Penn State and Maryland met once more in Baltimore at the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium, with the Terrapins now looking to start a streak of their own.
The game, as editor of The Football Letter John Black wrote, was a “barnburner” from start to finish.
“Together the two teams thrilled a crowd of 68,948 with big offensive plays, tough defensive stops, critical takeaways and giveaways in a game that went back and forth with exciting action for 60 minutes, before Penn State claimed a one point victory,” Black wrote afterward.
The contest featured five lead changes, six touchdown plays of 10 or more yards, 13 plays of 20 or more yards from scrimmage (with a long of 48), and eight combined turnovers.
After a slow offensive start from both teams, Penn State opened up the scoring through freshman running back Saquon Barkley’s 6-yard touchdown run halfway through the first quarter.
Maryland tied things up at 7-7 on its ensuing possession as the teams battled back and forth the rest of the opening half, which saw the Nittany Lions enter the halfway point on top 17-13.
The Terrapins regained the lead, 20–17, by moving 68 yards on nine plays (all on the ground) in 4:10 on their first possession of the second half.
On Penn State’s next possession, the Lions grabbed the lead back at 24– 20 with a seven-play, 79-yard march in under four minutes. The drive was capped off by Christian Hackenberg’s 20-yard strike to DaeSean Hamilton.
The two sides traded two more touchdowns, with the Penn State score coming via a gorgeous catch from Geno Lewis as he lept for the ball over his defender near the corner of the end zone.
From there it was a defensive struggle with a cascade of turnovers and just a sole Maryland field goal to cut the deficit to 31-30.
After a Penn State punt, the Terrapins had one last chance with the ball at their own 25 and 1:21 left on the clock.
But on the very first play of the drive, Terps quarterback Perry Hills’ pass went off his receiver’s hands and into the arms of Malik Golden.
The pick was sealed and so was the win for the Nittany Lions to give them their sixth victory, moving them to bowl eligibility for a second consecutive season.
Hackenberg completed 13-of-29 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns, thus setting Penn State’s all-time record for pass completions at 608 and passing yardage at 7,453.