Penn State football has a long and storied bowl history. Only three other programs have won more bowl games than Penn State (Alabama, Georgia and USC), and no other head coach had more postseason success than Joe Paterno.
Many of these victories were complete team efforts- from the 1986 team taking down the supposedly unstoppable Miami Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl to the 2005 squad leaving every last ounce of effort on the field to defeat Florida State in a triple-overtime Orange Bowl thriller that capped off a remarkable season.
But throughout Penn State’s bowl history, which individual performance sticks out to you the most?
Personally, I would go with Tony Hunt in the 2007 Outback Bowl victory against Tennessee. After coming out of nowhere to win the Big Ten and finish at 12-1 in 2005, the 2006 Penn State team took a step back with an 8-4 regular season thanks to an inconsistent offense. At the time, the perception was that the SEC was far-and-away the best conference in the nation, filled with “southern speed.” The Big Ten, meanwhile, was seen as a conference on the decline with its best days in the rear view mirror. Basically, no one gave Penn State much of a chance- it was assumed that the Volunteers would fly around the field and be too much for a “slow” Penn State team to handle.
Ultimately, the Nittany Lions would have the last laugh. The defense gave a dominating performance in Paul Posluszny’s final game at Penn State, limiting the Volunteers’ offense to just 10 points. Tony Hunt, however, would prove to be the difference. The workhorse back finished with 158 yards rushing on 31 carries, while also chipping in a seven-yard reception. Hunt kept the Tennessee offense off the field as he wore down the Volunteer defense, churning out yardage and keeping the clock winding down. Hunt proved to get stronger as the game continued. By the time the fourth quarter came around, everyone in the stadium knew #26 was going to get the ball, and the Volunteers’ just couldn’t stop him. It was pure fundamentally sound smashmouth football- no gimmicks, just go out and execute.
So what say you, BSD reader? What is the most memorable individual Penn State performance in a bowl game for you?