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Penn State Football Season Openers By The Numbers

by on August 29, 2019 1:10 PM

Penn State opens its 2019 season and it's 133rd season overall on Saturday as the Nittany Lions take on Idaho for the first time in program history. Kick is slated for 3:30 with the game set to air on the Big Ten Network.

Nearly 40-point favorites in the season opener lends itself to a less than dramatic afternoon. While 2018's overtime victory against Appalachian State was a far more dramatic game than some fans anticipated, the first game of Penn State's 133rd season is unlikely to be nearly as stressful for fans.

In the bigger picture the game will mark James Franklin's 66th at Penn State, amassing a 45-21 record over this five years in Happy Valley with the vast majority of those victories coming in the post-sanction era. So far at Penn State, Franklin is 4-1 in season openers having only lost once, in 2015 to -what turned out to be- a nationally relevant Temple team.

Even deeper in the trivia banks, Idaho is Penn State’s first FCS opponent since the 2011 season opener against Indiana State. From 2012-18, Penn State was one of just six Power Five schools (Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, USC, UCLA) to not play an FCS opponent. Forty-six different Power Five schools have scheduled 48 games against FCS opponents this season.

The numbers go on and on:

18 openers since the last game against a ranked team: The most recent ranked opponent to open Penn State's season were the Miami Hurricanes, who came to Beaver Stadium for the first game in the newly expanded venue back in 2001. The Nittany Lions put up a fight but eventually fell 33-7.

6-4 record against ranked teams in the opener: The game of football was a bit different back when Penn State was playing ranked teams to open the season, but from 1998 to 2001, the Nittany Lions started off the year against a Top 25 team, most notably beating No.4 ranked Arizona 41-7 in 1999. There's also a 1983 loss to No.1 ranked Nebraska to top off all of the big marquee season openers on the list below.

Penn State has won 15 of its last 17 season-opening contests and its last six consecutive home openers: The losses to Ohio and Temple are both memorable for different reasons. Against Temple it was the 10 sacks given up by Penn State's offensive line (without a single holding call) and in 2012 a loss to Ohio in Bill O'Brien's first game as head coach. Penn State nearly got upended in 2018, but managed to sneak by thanks to an overtime interception in the end zone.

All-time, the Nittany Lions are 109-21-2 in season-opening games.

Openers average score under James Franklin: 36.6-17 

  • 2018: 45-38
  • 2017: 52-0
  • 2016: 33-13
  • 2015: 27-10 (LOSS) Temple 
  • 2014: 26-24

Openers under Bill O'Brien

  • 2013: 23-17
  • 2012: 24-14 (LOSS) Ohio 

Openers under Joe Paterno 

  • 2011: 41-7
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  • 2010: 44-14
  • 2009: 31-7
  • 2008: 66-10
  • 2007: 59-0
  • 2006: 34-16
  • 2005: 23-13
  • 2004: 48-10
  • 2003: 23-10
  • 2002: 27-24
  • 2001: 33-7 (LOSS to No.2 Miami)
  • 2000: 29-5 (LOSS to No.15 USC)
  • 1999: 41-7 (No.4 Arizona)
  • 1998: 34-6 (No. 21 Southern Miss)
  • 1997: 34-17
  • 1996: 24-7 (No.7 USC)
  • 1995: 24-23
  • 1994: 56-3
  • 1993: 38-20
  • 1992: 24-20
  • 1991: 34-22 (No.8 Georgia Tech)
  • 1990: 17-13 (LOSS to Texas)
  • 1989: 14-6 (LOSS to Virginia)
  • 1988: 42-14
  • 1987: 45-19
  • 1986: 45-15
  • 1985: 20-18 (No.7 Maryland)
  • 1984: 15-12
  • 1983: 44-6 (LOSS to No.1 Nebraska)
  • 1982: 31-14
  • 1981: 52-0 
  • 1980: 54-10
  • 1979: 45-0
  • 1978: 10-7
  • 1977: 45-7
  • 1976: 15-12
  • 1975: 26-25
  • 1974: 24-20 (No.20 Stanford)
  • 1973: 20-6
  • 1972: 28-21 (LOSS) (No.7 Tennessee)
  • 1971: 56-3
  • 1970: 55-7
  • 1969: 45-22
  • 1968: 31-6
  • 1967: 23-22 (LOSS to Navy)
  • 1966: 15-7

 

 



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