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Penn State Football: Can You Match the Win Probability Graph to the Game?

As you may or may not know, ESPN runs win probability calculations live on its website throughout the course of nearly any given college football game (ESPN, for whatever reason, did not do this during Penn State’s win over Rutgers.)

It can lead to an interesting illustration of how a game unfolded, the swings in momentum and how sometimes a game isn’t over until it is truly over. For example, when Penn State upset Ohio State in 2016, the Buckeyes had just over a 92% chance of winning with 5:40 left in regulation. A few moments, blocked kicks and touchdowns later and the Nittany Lions found themselves winning the game. Penn State loss in the 2017 Rose Bowl to USC was a pendulum as well. The Trojans had an 87% chance of victory with about six minutes to go in the first half. A few hours later it was Penn State with a 96% chance of victory with just under two minutes to go in regulation.

Simply put, the odds might not always be in your favor — just ask Wisconsin, which had a 97% chance of victory in the 2016 Big Ten Title game before Penn State came storming back.

Penn State’s 2022 season had its own fair share of dramatics, and while the Nittany Lions might not be walking away with a conference title or a win over Ohio State, that doesn’t mean the numbers were always in their favor. Here are 11 of Penn State’s 12 games so far this season [no Rutgers from ESPN for whatever reason.] Can you identify which game each represents? Answers at the bottom.

A: Penn State was better team, but second half surge briefly made this interesting
B: A slow start but Penn State pulled away in the second quarter on the road.
C: Penn State’s opponent couldn’t do much and it was a short drive home for the Nittany Lions.
D: A few trick plays made this interesting but the result was never in question.
E: A soggy day but Penn State never had to worry once it go on the board.
F: Not big enough in the trenches, but that wasn’t the only bad thing for Penn State that day.
G: The only opponent other than Ohio State to briefly be favored in a game at Beaver Stadium.
H: Penn State had a chance, but a chance isn’t a win.
I: Nothing makes up for an interception like a game-winning drive.
J: This game started like it might be a classic and then Penn State hit the ground and pound.
K: This was an upset about 10 years ago, but not today.

A. Michigan State
B. Indiana
C. Maryland
D. Central Michigan
E. Northwestern
F. Michigan
G. Minnesota
H. Ohio State
I. Purdue
J. Auburn
K. Ohio.