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Penn State Football: Looking Back On Special Penn State Season Openers

by on July 29, 2014 10:10 AM

Penn State's football team is preparing for its first ever international trip and that's generating a lot of excitement.

When the Nittany Lions battle the University of Central Florida in Ireland on Aug. 30 it will be only the 10th time that Penn State has played a game in the month of August.

But Penn State has been involved in a number of special early season contests.

While fans might argue that every season opening game is special, it wasn't too long ago that Penn State was headlining the Kickoff Classic, the season opening game for all of college football.

The once annual affair was held at Giants' Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Here's a look back at some of those classics -- good and bad.

1983: Nebraska 44 Penn State 6

The very first Kickoff Classic did not go well for the Nittany Lions. Penn State entered the game as defending national champions and Nebraska entered ranked the preseason No. 1 The ranking held strong as the Huskers ran out to a 21-0 halftime lead. A 27-yard interception return for a touchdown by Mike Knox early in the third quarter killed any hope of a Penn State comeback. Penn State scored all six of its points in the fourth quarter.

1991: Penn State 34 Georgia Tech 22

This game was much closer to being a classic than the first "classic" held in 1983. Penn State entered the game the underdog against the defending national champs. The Nittany Lions came out firing. A Tony Sacca led pass attack saw Penn State build a 34-3 lead through three quarters. Georgia Tech would storm back though, scoring 19 points in four minutes, but it wasn't enough.

1996: Penn State 24 USC 7

With Curtis Enis in the backfield and a defense pounding USC Penn State walked away from this one with a solid 24-7 victory. Enis would run for 241 yards and three touchdowns on only 27 carries making quick work of the Southern California defense in front of a crowd of 77,716 fans. That rushing mark was good enough for fourth best in school history and just 15 yards shy of the school's single-game record set by Curt Warner in 1981.

2000: USC 29 Penn State 5

With both teams coming into the game ranked and both teams not far removed from the 1996 meeting there were plenty of story lines to follow. USC entered the game No. 16 with Penn State starting off the season at No. 17. In a role reversal of sorts, USC running back Sultan McCullough ran for 137 yards and a score en route to the victory. Penn State on the other hand was able to generate only six yards on the ground, the lowest figure under Joe Paterno. Penn State quarterback Rashard Casey was 7-of-24 for 106 yards and was replaced by Matt Senneca in the fourth quarter.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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