As it has turned out, PSU is one of Ohio State's two "protected" rivals (along with Michigan, obviously). For the foreseeable future, Ohio State and Penn State will play every year. This is the first year, though, that Penn State and Michigan have not played -- they each claim Michigan State as their other protected rival.
In terms of Penn State-Ohio State, it could be known as "The New Border War." Penn State leads the all-time series 10-8, including 4-2 in University Park, Pa., where the teams will meet Saturday (3:30 p.m., ABC). OSU leads the series 6-5 in Columbus, while Penn State won the only game played on a neutral field (the 1980 Fiesta Bowl).
OSU leads the Big Ten series since 1993 at 6-4. The home team has won every game in the Big Ten series except for OSU's 1995 win at Happy Valley. Since Penn State joined the conference, the teams have combined for five Big Ten championships (PSU in 1994; OSU in 1993, 1996, 1998 and 2002). Each time, the side winning the conference won this game on its way to the title.
Of course, Penn State is synonymous with Joe Paterno and Ohio State with Woody Hayes. But Paterno's record against Ohio State is 6-8. Hayes' OSU teams faced Penn State six times between 1956 and 1978, winning only twice. Head to head, Hayes' teams were 2-1 against Paterno's with OSU winning in 1975 and 1976 before dropping the 1978 season opener to the Nittany Lions.
Here is a look back at the 18 previous games in this series (game day AP rankings in parentheses after team‘s name):
* Nov. 16, 1912, at Columbus: Penn State 37, Ohio State 0 -- OSU trailed 37-0 in the second half when OSU coach John Richards pulled his team off the field because of PSU's excessive rough play and an on-field fight. Eugene "Shorty" Miller was the star of the match for Penn State.
The "official" score of the game was 1-0 because of the forfeit, and many people who bet the game on a spread that favored Penn State by 20 or 25 points refused to pay because of it.
A Columbus Citizen column summed up the whole fiasco: "It goes without saying that no future games will be scheduled between Penn State and Ohio State. It's probably just as well for Ohio."
PSU ended the year 8-0, while Richards was out after one 6-3 season at OSU.
* Oct. 20, 1956, at Columbus: Penn State 7, Ohio State (5) 6 -- Coach Rip Engle's Nittany Lions were a three-touchdown underdog to Hayes' Buckeyes. Neither team scored until the fourth quarter, when PSU's Bruce Gilmore scored from 1 yard out with 3:35 left.
OSU hit a pair of long passes from Jim Roseboro to Leo Brown, setting up Don Clark's 3-yard TD run. OSU was penalized for having 12 men on the field on the PAT, which was subsequently missed. PSU ran out the remaining 1:58, picking up a first down on its ensuing possession.
"I lost the ball game," Hayes told reporters. His Buckeyes finished 6-3, while PSU ended up 6-2-1.
* Nov. 9 1963 at Columbus: Penn State 10, Ohio State (10) 7 -- Engle could not believe his luck seven years later as another place kick helped decide the game. This time, PSU's Ron Coates made a 23-yard field goal in the third quarter.
"I never dreamed lightning could strike twice in the same place," said Engle, whose team ended up 7-3.
Paul Warfield scored OSU's only touchdown. Matt Snell had 100 yards rushing on 27 carries for OSU, which finished 5-3-1 overall and second in the Big Ten.
* Nov. 7, 1964, at Columbus: Penn State 27, Ohio State (2) 0 -- The PSU defense dominated No. 2-ranked Ohio State, stopping the Buckeyes to the tune of minus-14 yards total offense in the first half. OSU did not get a first down until a 15-yard PSU penalty in the third quarter.
PSU, which ended up 6-4, outgained OSU 349-63. The loss was OSU's worst at Ohio Stadium in 13 years under Hayes. Amazingly, OSU moved into first place in the Big Ten that day as Purdue defeated Michigan State. The Bucks then beat Northwestern 10-0 but ended the year with a 10-0 loss to Michigan and finished 7-2 overall and second in the conference.
* Sept. 20, 1975, at Columbus: Ohio State (3) 17, Penn State (7) 9 -- OSU finally got past Penn State, winning on the rushing exploits of fullback Pete Johnson (23 carries, 111 yards, two TDs) and halfback Archie Griffin (24 carries, 128 yards). Griffin made a one-handed catch of a 23-yard Cornelius Greene pass that led to Johnson's second TD, which put the game away.
"That was almost an impossible catch," said Hayes, whose team finished 11-1 and won the Big Ten but missed out on a national title after a Rose Bowl loss to UCLA. PSU's Paterno, facing OSU as a head coach for the first time, saw his team end up 9-3.
* Sept. 18, 1976, at University Park, Pa.: Ohio State (2) 12, Penn State (7) 7 -- Ohio State won its first trip to Happy Valley before a Beaver Stadium record crowd of 62,503. QB Rod Gerald scored on an 8-yard run. Then, Gerald faked what was a sure give to fullback Johnson and pitched to seldom-used Bob Hyatt, who raced 7 yards untouched for OSU's second score. Tailback Jeff Logan had 160 yards on 25 carries.
"They knew doggone well Pete was going to carry the ball," Hayes mused. "That's why it worked so good."
OSU ended up 9-2-1 and tied for the Big Ten title, while PSU finished the year 7-5.
* Sept. 16, 1978, at Columbus: Penn State (5) 19, Ohio State (6) 0 -- Hayes shocked everybody at Ohio Stadium by starting freshman quarterback Art Schlichter and returning starter Gerald at flanker. For dramatic effect, he pulled them aside and sent them in together.
Hayes then shocked everybody again by letting the debuting Schlichter throw 34 passes. The result: five interceptions and an easy PSU win. Matt Bahr kicked four field goals and Matt Suhey scored the game's only touchdown.
"That was about as bad an opener as we have ever played," Hayes said. "When you get into the passing game, you can expect that sort of thing to happen."
The loss dropped Hayes' record in season and Ohio Stadium openers to 23-4-1. Since this game, OSU has now won 25 straight home openers.
Penn State went on to roll all the way to a national title match-up with Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, but lost 14-7 to finish 11-1. OSU stumbled to a 7-4-1 finish, capped by the Gator Bowl loss to Clemson where Hayes was fired after punching a Clemson player following a Schlichter interception.
* Dec. 26, 1980, at Tempe, Ariz., (Fiesta Bowl): Penn State (10) 31, Ohio State (14) 19 -- OSU had the only meeting between the schools on a neutral field under control after piling up 339 yards total offense and building a 19-10 halftime lead. But PSU scored three unanswered touchdowns behind QB Todd Blackledge and TB Curt Warner in the second half.
Schlichter finished with 302 yards passing and three touchdowns, including two to Doug Donley, for coach Earle Bruce's Buckeyes, who ended up 9-3. PSU finished up 10-2.
* Oct. 30, 1993, at Columbus: Ohio State (3) 24, Penn State (12) 6 -- This remains one of the biggest games in Ohio Stadium history as the long awaited first Big Ten meeting between these two tradition-rich schools. And on a rainy/snowy day -- what a difference 10 years makes, because it is to be 70 and sunny tomorrow at PSU -- OSU moved a step closer to its first Big Ten title in seven years with a resounding win.
TB Raymont Harris carried 32 times for 159 yards and a touchdown for the Buckeyes. Joey Galloway caught a 25-yard TD pass from Bret Powers and Butler By'not'e added a 4-yard TD run. OSU went on to finish 10-1-1 after a Holiday Bowl win over BYU. PSU, which mustered just two field goals, ended up 10-2.
* Oct. 29, 1994, at University Park, Pa: Penn State (1) 63, Ohio State (21) 14 -- In a season of great performances, top-ranked Penn State probably had its greatest in this win over the Buckeyes. Ki-Jana Carter, who grew up just 10 miles from the OSU campus in Westerville, blistered OSU for 137 yards and four touchdowns. QB Kerry Collins threw for 265 yards and two scores. PSU jumped out to a 35-0 lead and never looked back.
PSU outgained OSU 572-214. The Nittany Lions went on to finish 12-0, winning the Big Ten and defeating Oregon in the Rose Bowl. But Nebraska claimed the consensus national championship. OSU ended up 9-4.
* Oct. 7, 1995, at University Park, Pa.: Ohio State (5) 28, Penn State (12) 25 -- OSU avenged its humiliation from a year earlier by rallying for a big win at Happy Valley. QB Bobby Hoying, who threw for 354 yards and three TDs, led OSU on a six-play, 58-yard scoring drive to the game winning points. The key play was his 32-yard pass down the middle of the field to TE Rickey Dudley, which set up Eddie George's 6-yard TD run with 1:42 left.
"What a great victory for the Buckeyes," said OSU coach John Cooper. "It doesn't get much better than that, guys, over here in Happy Valley."
When asked about the Big Ten race, Cooper replied, "All you got to do is win. Just keep winning, baby."
But OSU dropped the season finale to Michigan to finish second in the Big Ten, then lost to Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl to end up 11-2. PSU finished 9-3.
Eddie George celebrates with the team (at PSU in 1995)
* Oct. 5, 1996, at Columbus: Ohio State (3) 38, Penn State (4) 7 -- OSU QB Stanley Jackson completed 11 of 22 passes for 169 yards and two TDs. Flanker Dimitrious Stanley caught five passes for 105 yards and two TDs. Tailback Pepe Pearson added 141 yards and a TD on 28 carries.
Again, a season-ending loss to Michigan cost OSU a shot at the national title. But the Buckeyes did defeat Arizona State in the Rose Bowl to finish 11-1. PSU finished up 11-2 after beating Texas in the Fiesta Bowl.
* Oct. 11, 1997, at University Park, Pa.: Penn State (2) 31, Ohio State (7) 27 -- Ohio State drew ahead 27-17 in the third quarter, only to watch PSU rally for two touchdowns and the win. PSU running backs Curtis Enis (23 carries, 211 yards, 1 TD) and Aaron Harris (12 carries, 96 yards, 2 TDs) bulled their way over the Buckeyes. Harris bounced off several OSU defenders on a 51-yard TD run late in the third quarter, while Enis did likewise on his 26-yard game winner with 10:31 left in the game.
Ohio State outgained PSU 565-445 … and lost the game. OSU threw for 459 yards with Joe Germaine relieving Jackson and completing 29 of 43 passes for 378 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. David Boston had 14 catches for 153 yards and a TD.
Michigan, on its way to a national title, ended up doing both PSU and OSU in later in the season. PSU ended up 9-3, while OSU finished 10-3 after a Sugar Bowl loss to Florida State.
* Oct. 3, 1998, at Columbus: Ohio State (1) 28, Penn State (7) 9 -- On a rainy day at the Horseshoe, OSU's defense and special teams were opportunistic. LB Jerry Rudzinski recovered a fumble by PSU quarterback Kevin Thompson in the end zone and Percy King blocked a punt which teammate Joe Cooper recovered for a touchdown. Germaine threw for 213 yards, including a 20-yard TD to Michael Wiley.
OSU's national title dreams were derailed by Michigan State. But OSU rebounded to defeat Michigan and Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl to finish up 11-1 and No. 2 nationally. PSU finished up 9-3.
* Oct. 16, 1999, at University Park, Pa.: Penn State (2) 23, Ohio State (18) 10 -- Penn State was dominant, outgaining OSU 422-143. TB Eric McCoo carried 22 times for 211 yards. OSU got its only touchdown when Gary Berry recovered a Thompson fumble in the end zone.
PSU got as far as 9-0 before late-season losses to Minnesota, Michigan and Michigan State stopped its Big Ten and national title hopes. An Alamo Bowl win over Texas A&M left the Lions at 10-3. OSU finished up 6-6 and missed a bowl game for the first time since 1988.
* Sept. 23, 2000, at Columbus: Ohio State (14) 45, Penn State 6 -- This game was delayed 20 minutes by a thunderstorm. OSU's dominating performance (Buckeyes led in yardage 397-213) was clouded, though, by the serious neck injury suffered by PSU freshman defensive back Adam Taliaferro late in the game.
OSU ended up 8-4 with Cooper being fired after an embarrassing Outback Bowl loss to South Carolina. PSU ended up 5-7, its first losing season since 1988 and just the second under Paterno.
Paterno makes a splash with his record-breaking win
* Oct. 27, 2001, at University Park, Pa.: Penn State 29, Ohio State 27 -- Ohio State was on the wrong side of history as Paterno's Lions rallied from down 18 to win in dramatic fashion and give their coach sole possession of the Division I-A record for career coaching wins with 324.
Jim Tressel made his debut in this rivalry and OSU looked good in the third quarter after extending a 13-9 halftime lead to 27-9 early when Jonathan Wells ripped off a 65-yard TD run and Derek Ross returned an interception of a Zack Mills pass 45 yards for a score. But Mills had the last laugh as he shrugged off three picks to complete 17 of 32 passes for 280 yards and two scores. Mills also rushed for 138 yards, including a 69-yard TD. His 14-yard pass to McCoo with 14:47 left accounted for the margin of victory.
OSU, which ended up Tressel's first year 7-5, missed a late chance to win when Mike Nugent's 34-yard field goal with 2:55 left was blocked. QB Steve Bellisari threw for 209 yards, including four balls for 172 yards to Michael Jenkins (66-yard TD).
Penn State ended the year 5-6.
* Oct. 26, 2002, at Columbus: Ohio State (4) 13, Penn State (18) 7 -- This was a great defensive struggle with OSU moving a step closer to a Big Ten and national title on Chris Gamble's 40-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter. Nugent also booted a pair of 37-yard field goals for the Buckeyes. Mills finished 14 of 28 passing for 98 yards and three picks.