1979 Sugar Bowl: No. 2 Alabama (10-1) 14, No. 1 Penn State (11-0) 7
Whoa, Nellie! Keith Jackson, who's forgotten far more about college football than we'll ever know, says it's one of the greatest games he's seen. Bear Bryant vs. Joe Paterno and a crowd of 76,824 at the Superdome. It was a defensive battle. The Tide led 7-0 at the half, and 14-7 with under five minutes left in the game. But Penn State then forced a fumble, recovering on Alabama's 19. The Nittany Lions move quickly to the eight. Then came "The Goal Line Stand." Penn State ran three times from inside the 1-yard line and was stuffed inches from the end zone each time.
Jackson's call: "Fourth down and a foot separating top-ranked Penn State from a possible national championship. Fusina hands to Guman. He didn't make it! He didn't make it! What an unbelievable goal-line stand by Alabama!" There were still four minutes remaining, and Penn State got another chance, but Alabama held on. The Crimson Tide had the national title and Paterno was left searching for his first.
1987 Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Penn State (11-0) 14, No. 1 Miami (11-0) 10
Some called the matchup "The Game of the Century." But it didn't turn out to be. Both teams averaged 30+ points coming into the game, but played ineptly when they had the ball. Penn State played tenacious D, sacking Miami's Vinny Testaverde four times and picking off five passes. Still, the Hurricanes, who finished the game with 445 total yards to Penn State's 162, led until D.J. Dozier's 6-yard TD run midway through the fourth quarter, which put Penn State up 14-10. Then, Heisman Trophy winner Testaverde marched the Hurricanes 71 yards as the final minutes ticked off. He completed six straight to get to Penn State's 6-yard line, but then was sacked at the 13, threw an incompletion, then, finally, was picked off by the perfectly named Pete Giftopoulous in the final seconds.