Jimmy Johnson

Photo by Fiesta Bowl/Collegiate Images

The last time the Penn State Nittany Lions won the national championship…

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Joe Paterno had plenty of national championship-worthy teams during his lengthy coaching career, but he only saw his team crowned national champion twice. In 1982, the Nittany Lions went 11-1 and defeated Herschel Walker and the Georgia Bulldogs to finally give Paterno his long-awaited national championship. Three years later, the Nittany Lions came up short in the Orange Bowl against Barry Switzer and his Oklahoma Sooners. But Penn State would be back to play for a national championship the following season, and they would do so as a pretty big underdog in a clash of college football cultures.

In 1986, Penn State moved their the regular season without a blip. John Shaffer will never go down as one of Penn State’s top quarterbacks, but he got the job done with a running game fueled by D.J. Dozier. Penn State’s defense was one of the best in school history, with Shane Conlan anchoring things at linebacker. No team scored more than 19 points on Penn State in 1986, including No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 25, 1986. The upset by the visiting No. 6 Nittany Lions threw Penn State into the national title picture for the final month of the season.

A 24-19 victory at Notre Dame followed by a 34-14 home victory against Pitt to close out the regular season assured Penn State would be no worse than No. 2 going into the bowl season, and thus a national championship game was in the cards.

Penn State would play the decided underdog in the Fiesta Bowl against No. 1 Miami, coached by Jimmy Johnson, quarterbacked by Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde and starring players like Michael Irvin and Jerome Brown. The game would help make the Fiesta Bowl one of the top bowl games it is today, as the unique opportunity to pit No. 1 vs. No. 2 threw the Fiesta Bowl out of its typical pre-Rose Bowl lead-in spot into primetime on its own day, and it pulled in a massive rating for NBC. The classic “Good vs. Evil” storyline was on full display as the teams got off the planes in Arizona, Penn State in their typical travel attire and Miami coming off the plane in battle fatigues. Miami would later walk out of a joint team dinner with Jerome Brown infamously asking “Did the Japanese sit down and have dinner at Pearl Harbor before they bombed them?”

Miami was a heavy favorite, as they had been dominant all season long, but Penn State’s defense would keep the Hurricanes in check. The game reached halftime knotted at 7-7. Miami’s only score came following a fumble recovery at the Penn State 23-yard line. Miami heavily out-gained Penn State, but the Nittany Lion defense buckled down when it had to. Miami ended the game with a 445-162 advantage in offensive yards, and Miami racked up 22 first downs to Penn State’s eight. But the feisty and determined Penn State defense forced a stunning seven turnovers against the nation’s top team, including five interceptions of Testaverde. The final interception, by linebacker Pete Giftopoulos, helped clinch a national title for Penn State, the second and final one for Paterno.

It’s been a while since the Nittany Lions were the No. 1 team. LEt’s look back at what else was happening in 1986 when Penn State won it all.

Last National Championship: 1986 (33 years and counting)

Who was President?

Ronald Reagan was in the White House in 1987, when the Fiesta Bowl for the 1986 season was played, so the Nittany Lions made a trip to the White House. Reagan was in the Oval Office each time Penn State won the national championship.

The current president, Donald Trump, was paying $70 million to buy out the interest in a casino property following poor financial results. He also received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

What was on TV?

America was loving the sitcoms of the day. The Cosby Show continued to pull in the top ratings, followed by Family Ties and Cheers as NBC was leading the way with Must See TV at the time. The Golden Girls was also a hit on NBC, as well as Night CourtMurder, She Wrote was leading the way for CBS and ABC was not doing too bad with Growing PainsMoonlighting and Who’s the Boss? It’s safe to say, the theme shows from all of these shows probably still give you some warm fuzzy feelings.

1986 marked the debut for some notable television shows, such as MatlockPerfect StrangersL.A. Law, and ALF. One of the top game shows on Nickelodeon made its debut with the premiere of Double Dare. And one of the most iconic daytime talk shows hit the air for the first time with Oprah Winfrey launching The Oprah Winfrey Show.

There were some notable shows that also went off the air in 1986 as well. David Hasselhoff and KITT rode off into the sunset with the final episode of Knight RiderThe Love Boat also dropped anchor on its run on television after a decade of programming. And The Merv Griffin Show, which debuted in 1972, wrapped up as well. The set of the show would later show up in an episode of Seinfeld.

What movies were hot?

Do you have the need? The need for speed? Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer starred in the top-grossing movie of 1986 with the release of “Top Gun,” and you will never escape the visuals and the music for as long as you live.

Maybe Penn State fans will hope the stars align once again with a brand new “Top Gun” movie coming in 2020. The box office in 1986 was also fueled by some sequels, including “The Karate Kid Part II,” “Aliens,” and “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.” A cult classic was also born in 1986 with the release of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

A couple of other cult classics of sorts included “Little Shop of Horrors” and “The Three Amigos,” each featuring Steve Martin. Oen of the best sports movies of all time was also released with Gene Hackman starring in “Hoosiers.”

On the other side of the spectrum, and in a world long before movies involving Marvel characters were a sure box office hit, “Howard the Duck” also hit theaters to dismal reviews and results.

What else happened in 1986?

College football’s conference championships in 1986 were awarded to Arizona State (Pac-10), LSU (SEC), Michigan and Ohio State (Big Ten), Oklahoma (Big Eight), Clemson (ACC), Texas A&M (Southwest Conference), San Diego State (WAC), San Jose State (PAcific Coast Athletic Association) and Miami Ohio (MAC). Oklahoma’s Brian Bosworth was named the Dick Butkus Award winner, while Testaverde won the Heisman Trophy.

The most iconic moment of the year in sports in 1986 happened in the World Series, when a baseball off the bat of Mookie Wilson got by Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner, allowing the New York Mets to steal Game 6 of the World Series. The Mets, of course, kept the Red Sox World Series drought ongoing by capturing the second (and most recent) world championship in franchise history.

A season after the Chicago Bears did the Super Bowl shuffle earlier in 1986, it was Bill Parcells, Phil Simms, Lawrence Taylor and the New York Giants that were on their way to a Super Bowl championship during the 1986 season. The Giants would capture their Super Bowl title in the Rose Bowl, back when the NFL would play their championship game in a college football venue.

Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics took down the Houston Rockets in six games in the NBA Finals. Louisville won the NCAA MEn’s Basketball Tournament over Duke.

Mike Tyson became the youngest world heavyweight boxing champion at 20 years and four months with a knock out of Trevor Berbick. On the flip side of the age spectrum, Jack Nicklaus became the oldest Masters winner (46) and won his last major golf championship at The Master’s.

What about that 1994 team?

A few years after winning the national championship, the landscape of football started to change with expansion. Penn State would make the move to join the Big Ten in 1993, with some believing the Nittany Lions would become a regular Big Ten champion. After taking a couple losses in conference play in 1993, Penn State put together one of the best offenses college football had seen in 1994 and ran the table to go 11-0 and win the Big Ten title. The championship earned Penn State a trip to the Rose Bowl, where Paterno would become the first coach to win each of the four major bowl games (Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl). Penn State was locked into the Rose Bowl as the Big Ten champion and was forced to face Pac-10 champion and No. 12 Oregon, while top-ranked Big 8 champion Nebraska was free to play their bowl game against No. 3 Miami in the Orange Bowl. Penn State would play their Rose Bowl a day after Nebraska defeated Miami, when the argument for the national championship was all but decided by the media after the Huskers pulled away from the Hurricanes.

Years later the debate still wages on for some; would Penn State have beaten Nebraska in a national championship game in 1994? They most certainly would have scored some points on Nebraska, but the Huskers offense would have been able to pile up some yards and point son Penn State’s defense as well. It remains a fun debate to this day.

Penn State has had a few years where a national championship season was off to a good start, but tough losses in nail-biting fashion and blowout fashion in conference play have derailed those hopes over the years. A bizarre home loss to Minnesota. A last-second loss at Michigan and at Iowa. Being unable to hold leads against Michigan State or Ohio State. Penn State’s more recent seasons under James Franklin have had some promise for a possible spot in the College Football Playoff, and the Nittany Lions could be a program that makes regular appearance son the playoff radar in the years to come.

Broyles Award nominees include Kiffin, Venables, 38 others

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With the next round fo the coaching carousel about to get underway at full speed, some programs may want to pay attention to the list of names nominated for the Broyles Award. The Broyles Award is presented annually to the top assistant coach in college football, and the list of 40 nominees for this year’s award includes some names with previous head coaching experience and others about to be in line for a head coaching gig somewhere around the country.

Current head coaches who previously won the Broyles Award include Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, UConn’s Bob Diaco and Duke’s David Cutcliffe. Last year’s Broyles Award winner was Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who many feel could be ready for a head coaching offer in the next round of the coaching carousel.  This year Narduzzi is not a finalist for the award, but Spartans co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner is.

“This will be one of the most challenging years ever for our selection committee to choose the top 5 finalists and winner, so many assistant coaches did outstanding work this year,” David Bazzel, Broyles Award executive director.

This year’s Broyles Award winner will be announced on Tuesday, December 9 by The Rotary Club of Little Rock and sponsor Delta Dental. The award is named after former Arkansas head coach Frank Broyles, who had a solid track record of pumping out quality assistant coaches. Some of the assistants who coaches under Broyles include Barry Switzer, Jimmy Johnson, Hayden Fry, Joe Gibbs, and Jackie Sherrill.

Broyles Award Nominees

Alabama – Lane Kiffin, Offensive Coordinator
Appalachian State – Dwayne Ledford, Co-Offensive Coordinator
Arizona – Jeff Casteel, Defensive Coordinator
Arkansas – Robb Smith, Defensive Coordinator
Arkansas State University – Walt Bell, Offensive Coordinator
Boise State University – Mike Sanford, Offensive Coordinator
Boston College – Don Brown, Defensive Coordinator
Brigham Young University – Nick Howell, Defensive coordinator
Clemson – Brent Venables, Defensive Coordinator
Colorado State – Dave Baldwin, Offensive Coordinator
Duke University – John Latina, Run Game Coordinator/OL
East Carolina University – Lincoln Riley, Offensive Coordinator
FIU – Josh Conklin, Defensive Coordinator
Georgia Southern University – Doug Ruse, Offensive Coordinator
Louisiana – Marquase Lovings, Running Backs
Louisiana Tech – Manny Diaz, Defensive Coordinator
Louisville – Todd Grantham, Defensive Coordinator
Memphis – James Shibest, Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends
Miami – Mark D’Onofrio, Defensive Coordinator
Michigan – Greg Mattison, Defensive Coordinator
Michigan State University – Dave Warner, Co-Offensive Coordinator
Minnesota – Tracy Claeys, Defensive Coordinator
Mississippi State – Geoff Collins, Defensive Coordinator
Missouri – Dave Steckel, Defensive Coordinator
NC State – Desmond Kitchings, Running Backs/Recruiting Coordinator
Ohio State University – Tom Herman, Offensive Coordinator
Ole Miss – Dave Wommack, Defensive Coordinator
Oregon – Scott Frost, Offensive Coordinator
Penn State University – Bob Shoop, Defensive Coordinator
Stanford – Lance Anderson, Defensive Coordinator
TCU – Doug Meacham, Co-Offensive Coordinator
Temple – Phil Snow, Defensive Coordinator
UCF – Brent Key, Offensive Line Coach/Recruiting Coordinator
UCLA – Noel Mazzone, Offensive Coordinator
Utah – Kalani Sitake, Defensive Coordinator
Utah State University – Todd Orlando, Defensive Coordinator
UTSA – Neal Neathery, Defensive Coordinator
West Virginia University – Tony Gibson, Defensive Coordinator
Western Michigan University – Kirk Ciarrocca, Offensive Coordinator
Wisconsin – Dave Aranda, Defensive Coordinator

Week 12, Statistically Speaking

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A statistical snapshot of the week that was in college football…

-12.8 — Negative pass efficiency rating for Cole Stoudt in Clemson’s 22-point loss to Georgia Tech.  Stoudt, playing in place of the injured Deshaun Watson, completed 3-of-11 passes for 19 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions.  Two of those picks were returned for touchdowns by the Yellow Jackets.

.628 — Winning percentage of visiting teams in Pac-12 road games (27-16) this season.

.869 — Nebraska’s winning percentage in home games since 1990 (146-22), the top mark in the country.  Florida State is next up at .856 (121-20-1).

0 — Number of both points and punts for San Jose State in its loss to Hawaii.  The Spartans’ 11 drives ended on downs three times; with missed field goals three times; with turnovers three times; and the end of the half/game twice.

Randall Telfer (82)
Randall Telfer (82)

1 — Number of touchdowns scored by USC seniors this season, which came Thursday night in the win over Cal on tight end Randall Telfer‘s 15-yard scoring catch.

4 — Receptions East Carolina’s Justin Hardy needs to surpass Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles‘ FBS record of 349 career catches.  Hardy, with 346 receptions, has three regular season games plus a bowl game to eclipse Broyles’ mark set from 2007-11.

4-26 — South Carolina’s record vs. Florida from 1911-2009.  Since then, the Gamecocks own a 4-1 mark against the Gators.

5 — Wins vs. teams ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for Alabama’s Nick Saban, breaking the tie for most all-time he had been in with Jimmy Johnson, Jack Mollenkopf, Joe Paterno and Lou Holtz.

13 — Consecutive road games won by Ohio State, the longest such streak in the country.  Missouri has won nine in a row on the road.

Christian Hackenberg
Christian Hackenberg

14 — Interceptions thrown this season by Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg on 373 attempts, one year after tossing 10 in 392 attempts.  Additionally, the true sophomore has completed less than 50 percent of his passes in three straight games.

17 — Consecutive road losses for Hawaii prior to the win over San Jose State Saturday night.  That streak had been the longest in the country.

17 — Consecutive SEC losses for Arkansas before the win over LSU.  Prior to that, the Razorbacks’ last conference win was Oct. 13, 2012, against Kentucky.

32.1 — Percentage of 28 passes completed by Dane Evans in Tulsa’s 31-7 loss to UCF Friday night, the lowest of his career.  Evans also tossed three interceptions and totaled just 69 passing yards in accumulating a career-low pass efficiency rating of 43.2.

34-0 — Oklahoma’s regular season record the game after a loss since 2004.  The last time the Sooners lost back-to-back regular season games was in 1999, Bob Stoops‘ first year in Norman.  Those losses were to Notre Dame by four and to Texas by 10.

42 — Days between Georgia’s fourth home game of the season at Sanford Stadium (Oct. 4 vs. Vanderbilt) and its fifth (Nov. 15 vs. Auburn).

50 — Career starts for Michigan State defensive end Marcus Rush, setting a school record for a player at any position.

53 — Consecutive games for Iowa without a missed or blocked extra point, the longest streak of any school in the nation.

92 — Consecutive games in which Stanford has scored at least 10 points, the longest current streak in the country.

190.9 — Rushing yards per game Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon is averaging this season, which is more than 82 FBS teams average per contest.

Nelson Agholor
Nelson Agholor

214 — Yards receiving for Nelson Agholor in USC’s win over Cal Thursday night.  That gives Agholor back-to-back 200-yard receiving games (220 vs. Washington State), the first time a Trojan has ever turned that trick.

+221.4 — The differential between rushing yards gained vs. rushing yards allowed by Wisconsin entering Week 12, the best mark in the country by far (Navy’s +174.3).  That differential will only increase exponentially as UW outgained Nebraska 581-118 on the ground.

277 — Rushing yards for Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds in the win over Georgia Southern.  Incidentally, those two teams combined for 769 yards rushing and just 144 passing.

307 — Rushing yards for Indiana’s Tevin Coleman in the 45-23 loss to Rutgers.  In.  A.  Loss.

316.8 — Pass efficiency rating for Zach Terrell in Western Michigan’s 51-7 win over Eastern Michigan.  Terrell only misfired on two of his 19 passes, throwing for 357 yards and four touchdowns.

Leon Allen345 — Rushing yards for Western Kentucky’s Leon Allen, making him the third player to top the 300-yard mark in Week 12.  Prior to Week 12, no FBS player had rushed for more than 300 yards in a single game this year.

424 — Passing yards for Blake Frohnapfel in UMass’ 24-10 win over Ball State Wednesday night.  Frohnapfel, who didn’t throw a touchdown pass in the contest oddly enough, has now thrown for more than 400 yards three times this season, including a 589-yard effort in late September.  This was the first game, however, the Minutemen won during one of the senior’s 400-yard games.

436 — Career-high passing yards for Gunner Kiel as Cincinnati became bowl-eligible with a Thursday night win over East Carolina.

472 — Career-high passing yards for Pete Thomas in Louisiana-Monroe’s loss to Louisiana-Lafayette.  His previous career-high was 387 in 2011 when he was at Colorado State.

483 — Rushing yards for Pittsburgh’s James Connor the past two games, 220 in Week 12 and 263 in Week 10.  Oddly enough, the Panthers lost both games.

Marquise Williams628 — Rushing yards for North Carolina’s Marquise Williams, setting the school’s single-season record for a quarterback previously set by Jim Lalanne in 1940 (541).

670 — Rushing yards for Melvin Gordon on 34 carries spanning two career games against Nebraska, a ridiculous 19.7 yards per carry.

1941 — Last year Temple beat Penn State on the gridiron.  Since then, the Owls are 0-38-1, including Saturday’s setback to the Nittany Lions.

1950 — Last football meeting between Maryland and Michigan State prior to Saturday night’s encounter.

1960 — Prior to Saturday’s game against UTSA, Southern Miss’ last game in the city of San Antonio.  The Eagles, though, suffered their first loss in the city, dropping their all-time record there to 4-1.

1999 — Last year both Oklahoma and Texas were unranked in the Associated Press poll before Week 12 of the 2014 season.

Vinny Testaverde elected to College Football Hall of Fame

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Ahead of the complete list of honorees being announced Tuesday morning, the name of one member of the College Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013 has been released.

On ESPN Monday afternoon and in a subsequent National Football Foundation release, it was announced that former Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde has been elected to the Hall of Fame.

As a senior with the Hurricanes in 1986, Testaverde was a unanimous All-American and won the Heisman Trophy, the Walter Camp Player of the Year, Maxwell, Davey O’Brien and UPI Player of the Year awards.  Per the release, he finished his collegiate career with more than 6,000 passing yards and 48 touchdown passes, and he still ranks in the top five in virtually every passing category in school history.

Testaverde was a redshirt on Miami’s 1983 national championship team and would go on to a 23-3 mark as a starter.

According to the school, the Elmont, NY, native will become sixth Miami Hurricane player/coach the last eight years and 10th overall to be enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame – Bennie Blades (2006), Don Bosseler (1990), Andy Gustafson (1985), Jack Harding (1980), Ted Hendricks (1987), Jimmy Johnson (2012), Russell Maryland (2011), Gino Torretta (2009) and Arnold Tucker (2008).

The full class of 12 players and two coaches will be announced tomorrow and if Tommie Frazier isn’t one of the former then slap an “Out of Business” sign on the place.