Penn State Football: Ranking the top 20 wins in program history

Grant Haley #15 of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Grant Haley #15 of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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Penn State Football
A detailed view of a Penn State Nittany Lions helmet (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

6. 1969 Orange Bowl

In a game that Joe Paterno has said was his favorite of all-time, the Penn State Nittany Lions took on John Riggins and the Kansas Jayhawks in the 1969 Orange Bowl.

Going for their first undefeated season in history, Penn State put together one of the more exciting endings to any game in the history of the program, beating Kansas 15-14 in a defensive battle.

Riggins would go on to become a Super Bowl hero for the Washington Football Team, and at this point, he was one of the more explosive running backs in college football. It would be up to the Penn State defense to stop Riggins, and while he did have a solid game, it was not enough for the Jayhawks to emerge victories.

The ending of this game was classic, as a blocked punt gave the Nittany Lions the ball at midfield. A Chuck Burkhart to Bob Campbell went all the way down to the three, and on the Nittany Lions’ third try, Burkhart scored on a bootleg to pull Penn State within one. Instead of going for the tie, the Nittany Lions went for the win.

At first, it looked like Kansas had won, as the two-point try was deflected and fans actually rushed the field. However, Kansas was flagged for 12 men on the field, and when Campbell found the end zone for two, Penn State capped off their undefeated season, and a No. 3 ranking in the country.