Series Spotlight: A brief history of the Ohio State-Penn State rivalry

By Kyle Dubbels -

On Saturday October 21, the undefeated No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes will host the undefeated No. 7 Penn State Nittany Lions in a matchup that will put the winner in the driver’s seat for the Big Ten East Title as well as for a College Football Playoff spot.

Here’s all you need to know to sound smart in front of your friends this weekend.


Series Began: 1912. Penn State won 37-0.

Series History: Ohio State leads 23-14.

Recent History: Ohio State has won the last six meetings and 10 of the last 12.

In Columbus: Ohio State leads 14-7.

Winningest Coach in the Series: Ohio State’s Urban Meyer was 6-1 in the series, while Jim Tressel went 6-3.

Largest Victory: Both schools hold identical 63-14 victories. Penn State’s was in 1994 and Ohio State’s was in 2013.


While Ohio State and Penn State played eight times prior to 1993, the rivalry didn’t really begin until the Nittany Lions entered the Big Ten.

The first seven Big Ten meetings saw both teams enter ranked in the Top 25 with three of those pitting top 10 teams against each other. The games were so meaningful that the Associated Press dubbed it the “The Game”, taking the name from the Harvard-Yale classic.


The 2005 meeting, which Penn State won 17-10, was one of the first “White Out” games, which were started to drum up interest and support for the football team during a tough stretch of four losing seasons out of five from 2000-2004 that caused some reporters to state that Beaver Stadium was “quiet”. This “White Out” was limited to the student section and caused members of the media to declare Penn State’s fan base as some of the best in the country.

Two years later, the entire stadium would be included in the White Out, thus giving birth to the amazing tradition we all recognize today.


The 2016 game had arguably the most iconic moment in the series history. Down 21-17 with just over four minutes to play, Ohio State lined up to kick a 45 yard field goal to go up by 7 but the Nittany Lions defense had other ideas. Instead of the kick sailing through the uprights, it went into the arms of a jumping defender and Grant Haley scooped it up and ran 70 yards for the game deciding score. There are some that say this play is one of the greatest in Penn State history.

Surprisingly, that was the last Penn State victory in the series.


While Ohio State has won the last six meetings Penn State has come very close two separate times, in 2017 and 2018. Both meetings saw Penn State cough up big leads in the 4th quarter and lose by one point – 39-38 in 2017 and 27-26 in 2018.

In 2017 Ohio State stormed back from a 11 point deficit in the last five minutes of the game. J.T. Barrett threw a touchdown pass to Marcus Baugh with 1:48 remaining to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

The 2018 game was eerily similar. Down 26-14 with under eight minutes to play, Ohio State once again turned it on late to come back. The game winning drive was a 8 play, 96 yard excursion that ended with a touchdown pass from Dwayne Haskins to K.J. Hill that silenced the home White Out crowd.


Date: Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023
Site: Ohio Stadium – Columbus, OH
Time: 12:00pm ET

While this rivalry has been one sided, it has had its fair share of exciting moments and rivalries tend to even out over time. What will the matchup on Saturday bring?

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Comments (3)

Dan is pulling for Florida/Notre Dame to play in prime time 11/2/24 on same day I would like CBS do Ohio State at Penn State also in prime time & have NBC do USC at Washington again also in prime time Friday evening 11/1/24.

Here what I want to see in Week 10 11/2 for Big Ten Football schedule. Ohio State at Penn State Noon Kickoff & Oregon at Michigan 3:30PM Kickoff both be sold to CBS. UCLA at Nebraska be sold to NBC with early evening Kickoff. USC at Washington be sold to FS1(FOX) with late evening Kickoff. FOX big noon Saturday will have 4 choices with Wisconsin at Iowa,Northwestern at Purdue,Minnesota at Illinois or Indiana at Michigan State. 3 Remaining Big Ten Football games 2 will be on BTN & other on Peacock. Last time Big Ten had two games on regular TV during Noon time slot was Week 8 10/23/21 when Northwestern at Michigan on FOX & Illinois at Penn State on ABC according to & Big Ten had 5 games scheduled that Saturday comparing to eight that will happen Week 10 11/2.