Penn State football: 5 best seasons in Nittany Lions history, ranked

Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart/AllSport
Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart/AllSport /
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(Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Madison/Getty Images) /

Scouting Report. No.5 Coaches/No.5 AP. 1973 (12-0). 806. Pick Analysis. Orange Bowl Champion, Lambert-Meadowlands Trophy. 5. player

Penn State football wins the Orange Bowl in 1973.

Including the 1973 Penn State Football Team, Joe Paterno had led the Nittany Lions to three undefeated seasons and five 10-win seasons in just his first eight years as head coach. The 1973 team was dominant on both offense and defense.

The offense, led by Penn State’s first and only Heisman Trophy winner, John Cappelletti, averaged over 37 points per game, while the defense allowed their opponents to under 14 points in all but two games.

An undefeated season and no national championship?

That’s been a headline over the history of Penn State football, which will be shown a few times throughout this list. People who complain about the playoff system and the BCS era should count their blessings on this one.

The determination of the national champion was as controversial as ever between the late 1960s and early 1990s. While claimed at heart by the program, Penn State wasn’t recognized by any poll as a national champion in 1973.

If there was a BCS format or a four-team playoff format in 1973, there’s a good chance Penn State football could have added another championship banner.