The Penn State football program has a rich history in bowl games, and here’s a look at the complete postseason history of the team.
The Penn State Nittany Lions and James Franklin might benefit from the expanded College Football Playoff more than any other program in the country. Franklin hasn’t gotten the Nittany Lions into the College Football Playoff, but he does take his team to big-time bowl games every year.
Franklin has only missed a bowl game once in his first nine years at Penn State (the 2020 pandemic shortened season). He’s continuing the storied history in Happy Valley. Penn State has participated in 52 bowl games and has won national championships in 1911, 1912, 1982, and 1986.
The Nittany Lions are 31-19-2 in their 52 bowl appearances and their longest streak of consecutive seasons ending in bowl game appearance is 13 years, from 1971-1983. Let’s go back through the history of Penn State’s bowl games.
A look at the Penn State football bowl game history, sorted by bowl games
Liberty Bowl (3-0)
1959: Penn State 7 Alabama 0
1960: Penn State 41 Oregon 12
1979: Penn State 9 Tulane 6
Penn State took a step back in 1979 after an 11-0 regular season in 1978 ended with a loss in the Sugar Bowl. Joe Paterno led the Nittany Lions to 7-4 the next year but managed to win the Liberty Bowl for the third time. It was the first of five consecutive bowl game wins over the next five seasons.
Herb Menhardt of Penn State hit his third field goal of the game, and the game-winner with 18 seconds left in the fourth to break a 6-6 tie.