Penn State’s History In The Outback Bowl

2011 Outback Bowl (Photo by Steve Manuel/The Football Letter)

Penn State’s matchup against No. 21 Arkansas will be the program’s fifth appearance in the Outback Bowl, and the first since 2011.

Let’s take a quick look back at the previous four games in Tampa.

1996 vs. Auburn (Penn State won 43-14)

The 1995 season wasn’t quite as special as the magical 1994 campaign, but it still ended in triumph. The Nittany Lions blew out Auburn, 43-14, thanks to Bobby Engram’s MVP performance. Engram had 113 receiving yards with a pair of touchdowns.

The first half was controlled by the defenses, with Auburn taking a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter. After back-to-back Penn State field goal drives, a Wally Richardson touchdown strike to Mike Archie extend the Penn State to 16-7 going into halftime. From that point forward, it was a complete domination from the Nittany Lions.

Just five minutes into the second half, Richardson connected with Engram on a nine-yard touchdown pass. A drive later Richardson again passed for a touchdown, this time hooking up with Steven Pitts. Just like that it was 29-7.

The scoring wasn’t over, though. Curtis Enis plunged into the end zone from a yard out and then a minute later Engram snagged his second TD grab of the afternoon to make it 43-7. That was 40 unanswered points for the blue and white. A late Kevin McLeod rushing touchdown for the Tigers made the final score 43-14.

A complete effort for Penn State to earn its 17th bowl win.

1999 vs. Kentucky (Penn State won 26-14)

Just three years later, Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions were back in Tampa for the Outback Bowl.

Heisman trophy finalist Tim Couch got the scoring started with a touchdown pass to Lance Mickelesen and put the Wildcats up 7-0 early. Penn State answered back with a field goal, only for Couch to connect on another touchdown pass to put Kentucky ahead 14-3.

A Kevin Thompson found Joe Nastasi for the Nittany Lions’ first touchdown of the day in the second quarter, before another Travis Forney field goal closed the gap to 14-13.

Two more Forney field goals gave Penn State a 19-14 lead. In the fourth quarter the Nittany Lions took full control as Chafie Fields scored on a 19-yard touchdown run with four minutes left to give Penn State a 26–14 lead. That would prove to be the final score.

2007 vs. Tennessee (Penn State won 20-10)

A defensive struggle for most of the afternoon, Penn State and Tennessee traded field goals on either side of the first period. The Nittany Lions scored the game’s first touchdown on a 2-yard connection from Anthony Morelli to Andrew Quarless.

The Volunteers answered on the next possession with a LaMarcus Coker 42-yard touchdown run.

A scoreless third quarter saw the score locked in a 10-10 tie, only for a Tony Davis 88-yard fumble return for a touchdown to completely flip the game on its head for the Nittany Lions.

A stingy Penn State defense and another Kevin Kelly field goal secured the 20-10 win, the Nittany Lions’ third win in Outback Bowls.

2011 vs. Florida (Florida won 37-24)

The game started brightly enough for the Nittany Lions as Matt McGloin found Derek Moye for a 5-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter.

The Gators bit back with 14 unanswered, including a blocked punt returned for a touchdown. Then, Penn State responded with 10 points unequalled of their own (a Michael Zordich TD plunge and then a Collin Wagner field goal). At halftime, the Nittany Lions held a narrow 17-14 lead.

The second half proved to be a different story, though. In what was Urban Meyer’s final game as head coach of the Gators, Florida rallied to outscore Penn State 23-7 in the second half. An Ahmad Black 80-yard interception return for a touchdown sealed the win for the SEC outfit. It was Penn State’s first loss in the Outback Bowl.

So, there you have. A brief history of Penn State at the Outback Bowl. Let’s hope the Nittany Lions improve to 4-1 in the game in a few weeks.


From The Archives: Penn State V. Indiana (2010)

Penn State v Indiana  (Photo by Steve Manuel)

Derek Moye’s end-around run featured prominently on the cover of The Football Letter that recounted Penn State’s victory over Indiana in 2010 at FedEx Field. Photo credit: Steve Manuel.

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.

Penn State v Indiana  (Photo by Steve Manuel)

Matt McGloin celebrated with fans after Penn State earned a 41-24 victory over Indiana. McGloin posted his first career 300-yard game and threw two touchdowns to lead the offense. Photo credit: Steve Manuel/The Football Letter

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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