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Penn State football: Best wins over 2023 opponents – Indiana

Many didn’t know it then, but the goal-line stand against Indiana in 2004 was the start of something special for Penn State football.



Penn State Football, Indiana
Oct 2, 2004; Penn State Nittany Lions tail back Tony Hunt plows ahead for a 19-yard gain against the Minnesota Gophers at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Minnesota defeated Penn State 16-9. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn-US Presswire Copyright (c) 2004 Bruce Kluckhohn

Today, we continue our offseason series of the best wins for Penn State football over its 2023 opponents. Up next, the Indiana Hoosiers. The Nittany Lions and Hoosiers first met on the gridiron in 1993, with the series heavily titled in the Lions’ favor. The Hoosiers have only won twice, both in Bloomington.

When Penn State fans think of Indiana, the 2020 contest probably first comes to mind. Yes, it was a loss, but Michael Penix was short. You cannot convince this writer otherwise. The loss led to an 0-5 start for the Nittany Lions before they rebounded. Indiana went on to have a magical season by its standards, finishing 6-2. There have not been a ton of memorable matchups between the two. However, Penn State’s best win in the series was its 2004 victory.

Penn State football: “To be, or not to be”

The 2004 season was a trying one for Joe Paterno and Penn State. After opening the season with wins against Akron and UCF, with a loss at Boston College sandwiched between the two, Penn State would lose six consecutive games. These losses included the infamous 6-4 game against Iowa and the first-ever “White Out” game against Purdue.

After a home loss to Northwestern, the Nittany Lions were in uncharted territory: 0-6 in conference play and sitting alone at the bottom of the Big Ten standings. At practice that Monday, Paterno read to his team from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. “To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?”

Goal-line stand seals the victory for the Lions over Indiana

Indiana entered the contest 3-6, but its one conference victory over Minnesota had them above the Nittany Lions in the conference standings.

In the first quarter, the Hoosiers opened the scoring with a touchdown, but the Lions matched with a touchdown of their own. A pick-six and a missed extra point in the second quarter would give Indiana a 13-7 halftime lead. Penn State took its first lead of the game in the third quarter with a two-yard touchdown run by quarterback Zach Mills. But the game’s final frame would prove to be the most exciting.

After the Hoosiers regained the lead with a short field goal, Penn State took it right back with a Tony Hunt touchdown and a two-point conversion by Mills. The Lions had a 22-16 lead with under five minutes to play. It was now up to the defense to hold. The Hoosiers drove down the field, and after a 28-yard pass, they were set up right at the goal line. Penn State could see it happening again. A Hoosier touchdown plus an extra point would give them a likely win and hand another brutally close loss to the Blue and White.

However, that was not going to happen on this day. The Nittany Lion defense would dig deep and deliver one of the best goal-line stands in team history.

The defense had carried the Nittany Lions all season, and they came up with a magnificent goal-line stand. The Penn State defense would end the season finishing in the top 10 in four NCAA statistical categories, and were the only team in the nation to not allow more than 21 points per game. Nobody knew it then, but the goal-line stand would be the start of something big for the Nittany Lions. Penn State would go on to rout Michigan State the next week to finish 4-7 overall. As we all know, the following season in 2005 was a special one. But it all started on a mid-November Saturday in Bloomington.

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Shane has been a Penn State fan since he attended his first game in Beaver Stadium when he was 8 years old. A Class of 2005 alum, he has been a contributing writer for Victory Bell Rings, Saturday Blitz and now Basic Blues Nation. He also hosts The Nittany and Badger: A Big Ten Football Podcast. Shane lives near Pittsburgh with his wife and son.


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