When Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993, conference officials wanted to give them a rival to play every year. It seemed only natural that that rival would be Ohio State, and that rivalry will be renewed when the second-ranked Nittany Lions travel to Columbus this weekend to take on the sixth-ranked Buckeyes.
While the matchup may not generate the same passion for OSU fans as another one with a team to the north, both storied programs have given us some incredible showdowns over the years.
1975 - #3 Ohio State 17, #7 Penn State 9
Perhaps he was overreacting, but legendary Ohio State head coach Woody Hayes did not respond kindly when his Penn State counterpart Joe Paterno advised him to "take it easy" before this matchup (Hayes had suffered a heart attack the previous year). Although the Buckeyes never trailed, a close game like this certainly couldn't have been good for Woody's health. Pete Johnson rushed for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Heisman winner Archie Griffin added 128 yards of his own.
1980 Fiesta Bowl - #10 Penn State 31, #11 Ohio State 19
The Nittany Lions ended the game with 24 unanswered points in what is likely to be the only bowl matchup in this rivalry. Despite throwing for three touchdowns, OSU quarterback Art Schlichter struggled in the second half, and PSU's Curt Warner ran for 155 yards and a touchdown on his way to co-MVP honors.
1993 - #3 Ohio State 24, #12 Penn State 6
This game had plenty of hype, as it was the first time the two teams met as members of the Big Ten Conference.The unbeaten Buckeyes dominated throughout, with Raymont Harris leading the way with 151 rushing yards and a touchdown.
1994 - #1 Penn State 63, #21 Ohio State 14
In one of the most lopsided defeats in Ohio State history, Penn State proved why it was the nation's top-ranked team by jumping out to a 35-0 halftime lead and never looking back. The Nittany Lions' high-powered offense outgained the Buckeyes 572-214, with Ki-Jana Carter rushing for 137 yards and 4 touchdowns by himself. Despite the big win, PSU actually dropped in the rankings the next week, and would finished the season ranked No. 2 despite a 12-0 record.
1995 - #5 Ohio State 28, #12 Penn State 25
Despite losing to unranked Wisconsin the previous week, the Nittany Lions were looking for a repeat of 1994's blowout. However, the Buckeyes were able to exact some revenge on the road: In a back-and-forth showdown, quarterback Bobby Hoying threw for 354 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Heisman winner Eddie George's 6-yard rushing score with just 1:28 left provided the difference as OSU remained unbeaten.
1997 - #2 Penn State 31, #7 Ohio State 27
Leading 27-17 late in the third quarter, the Buckeyes appeared to have firm control of things. But Aaron Harris' 51-yard scoring run cut the lead to three, and early in the fourth Curtis Enis took it in from 26 yards out to put the Nittany Lions ahead. Despite 459 yards passing from its quarterbacks, the OSU offense could not get anything going late, as PSU held on to rise to No. 1 in the polls before falling to eventual-national champion Michigan weeks later.
2002 - #4 Ohio State 13, #17 Penn State 7
The 2002 season was rife with close calls for Ohio State, and this game was no exception: Down 7-3 early in the second half, OSU's two-way star Chris Gamble picked off a Zack Mills pass and took it 40 yards for a touchdown, sending an already raucous Ohio Stadium crowd into a frenzy.
It was one of 3 picks Mills had on the afternoon, as the Buckeyes moved to 9-0 on their way to winning the national championship.
2005 - #16 Penn State 17, #6 Ohio State 10
From 2000-04, Penn State put up a mediocre record of just 26-33. Not much was expected heading into 2005 either, but after a 5-0, start, the Nittany Lions found themselves back in the top 25 with the mighty Buckeyes coming to town.
In a classic smash-mouth Big Ten game, the PSU defense made the difference, forcing two turnovers and sacking OSU quarterback Troy Smith five times. The emotional victory propelled Penn State to a Big Ten title and a No. 3 ranking at season's end.
2008 - #3 Penn State 13, #10 Ohio State 6
Despite an 8-0 start, many felt the Nittany Lions were being aided by a weak schedule, and expected them to go down in the Horseshoe, a place they had not won in since 1978.
In a defensive struggle, the Buckeyes appeared to be driving for victory up 6-3 midway through the fourth quarter. However, freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor fumbled, and Penn State was able to put together a drive of its own capped off by a scoring run by backup QB Pat Devlin. Ohio State would have a chance to tie the game late, but a deep pass by Pryor was intercepted in the endzone.
2014 - #13 Ohio State 31, Penn State 24 (2OT)
The only overtime game in series history was not expected to turn out that way, as Penn State came in as a 14-point home underdog. But the Nittany Lions held J.T. Barrett to just 74 yards passing, and with just 9 seconds remaining, Sam Ficken's 31-yard field goal sent the game into OT.
Both teams traded touchdowns during the first extra period, and in the second, a 4-yard run by Barrett put Ohio State back on top. After PSU got the ball back, Joey Bosa sacked Christian Hackenberg to end the game for good. The Buckeyes would hit their stride after the contest, en route to their eighth national title.
2016 - Penn State 24, #2 Ohio State 21
It seemed like it would be a cake walk, as the Buckeyes entered this game favored by 19 points and led by 14 heading into the fourth quarter. But touchdown runs by Trace McSorley and Tyler Davis cut the Penn State deficit to four, and with just 4 and a half minutes left, an OSU blocked field goal was taken all the way back for a score, to the shock and amazement of the Beaver Stadium crowd.
The Nittany Lions woud hold on to win, despite putting up just 154 yards of total offense. Controversy would ensue in the weeks following the game, as 11-2 Penn State would go on to win the Big Ten championship but miss the College Football Playoff in favor of 11-1 Ohio State.