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Penn State Football: The Best and The Worst of Penn State Homecoming Games

by on October 09, 2013 9:20 AM

October 9, 1920 marked the first Penn State football homecoming game, and the 14-7 victory over Dartmouth was just one of many victories to come on the special day. This weekend Penn State will look to add another historic chapter to the homecoming tradition taking on an undefeated Michigan team with BCS aspirations.

If the Nittany Lions win it will add another impressive homecoming victory to Penn State's storied record book. If Bill O'Brien's squad loses, the game may earn a spot alongside some of the big homecoming heartbreaks in Penn State history.

There have been many memorable homecoming games over the years, some great, some downright disappointing. Here are six recent homecoming games that Penn State football fans will long remember.

Oct. 29, 1994 - Penn State 63, Ohio State 14 - Penn State has beaten Ohio State on more than one occasion, but never in such a fashion. The then-No. 1 Nittany Lions embarrassed No. 14 Ohio State, serving out the Buckeyes' worst defeat in 52 years with an offensive performance that netted 527 yards.

Former Nittany Lion tailback Ki-Jana Carter punches in four touchdowns and quarterback Kerry Collins throws for two more scores while the Lion defense limits Ohio State to 214 yards and intercepts three passes. Ironically, Penn State inexplicably falls to No. 2 in the Associated Press poll the very next day.

Oct. 18, 2008 - Penn State 46, Michigan 17 -Penn State ended nine years of Michigan domination before the largest crowd ever to see a Penn State Homecoming game --  110,017. The Nittany Lions didn't know the game would go their way early on though as Michigan pulled ahead with a 17-7 lead in the second quarter. Penn State would take the lead with a Jared Odrick end zone sack with 4:39 left in the third quarter that put the Lions ahead, 19-17. Penn State would never look back.

Oct. 19, 2002- Penn State 49, Northwestern 0 - So very rarely can a quarterback complete only 10 passes and have his team dominate the game. That's what happened though as Zack Mills completed 10-of-15 for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Mills' performance was impressive, but not nearly as impressive as Larry Johnson Jr, who ran for 257 yards before sitting out much of the second half. Johnson's total bested the school record of 256 set by Curt Warner in 1981 against Syracuse.

Nov. 6, 1999 - Minnesota 24, Penn State 23 - On the heartbreak end of things, Minnesota destroyed the national championship dreams of unbeaten No. 2 Penn State (9-0) with time running out in the fourth quarter. The Gophers did it with a "Hail Mary" pass on a fourth-and-16 at the Penn State 40-yard line followed by a 34-yard field goal. The loss crippled the Nittany Lions' emotionally. Penn State would go on the lose the last two regular season games of the season, finishing 10-3 on the year. Few losses in Beaver Stadium history have had greater implications.

Oct. 23, 2004 - Iowa 6, Penn State 4 - This game has earned a special place in their hearts of college football diehards. For fans of Penn State or even Iowa football, it has a special place in the part of the brain that causes embarrassment. Iowa used a pair of first half field goals to beat Penn State. The Nittany Lions missed two fields goals of their own and gave up a total of five turnovers to go with poorly timed penalties.

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