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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(Via Getty Images)
(Via Getty Images) /

1982 (11-1). 3. 806. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. player. National Champion. No. 1 Coaches/No. 1 AP

Penn State football wins the national championship in 1982.

The 1982 Penn State football team brings in the first of two national championships for the Nittany Lions.

Penn State started off the seasons 4-0, including a three-point win over No. 2 Nebraska, before dropping their only game of the 1982 season 42-21 to No. 3 Alabama. Winning a national title after a loss like that is tough to do, but the Nittany Lions took care of business.

If a team had that type of strength of schedule in this era, they would be lauded for defeating this level of competition. The type of gauntlet they faced was unmatched in this era and has only been replicated in the recent stretch in the SEC.

The 1982 Nittany Lions finished the season with seven straight victories, four of which were over ranked opponents, including their season finale win over No. 1 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, earning them the title as National Champion for the first time in program history. It’s funny how their first national title came in a non-undefeated season, but nonetheless, the Nittany Lions had finally reached the top of the mountain.

The 1982 season also marked the Nittany Lions’ fifth 10-win season in six years and 11th 10-win season in Paterno’s first 17 years as head coach.