2001: Penn State vs. Ohio State: Joe Paterno breaks Bear Bryants record wins 324th game

Ten years ago today, I was sitting with my girlfriend (she’s my wife now) and friend Brad in section SEU, row 80. That is directly under the scoreboard in the top row of the south end zone upper deck. There were occasional flurries and a big 18 point 2nd half deficit. I promise it isn’t revisionist history to say I wasn’t worried that the Penn State Nittany Lions would win that day. I had faith that Zack Mills could bring the Lions back and beat the Ohio State Buckeyes. Even after a pick six off a deflection, I had absolute faith that Mills would do it.

I was right.

The play that changed momentum, a frameshift really, was a QB draw play that Mills bounced off a few Buckeye tacklers for about a 69 yard run. It was incredible. That was the beginning of a 20 point run that put Penn State up 29-27 with most of the fourth quarter to go. They held on and won to go 2-5 on the season.

The win was a record-breaking 324th for head coach Joe Paterno. After being bested head-to-head by Paul “Bear” Bryant, Paterno no exceeded his rival’s all-time victory total.

Here are the highlights:

Here is the Penn State Football Story recap:

That day was also the beginning of a post-game tradition I’ve mentioned a number of times. The week before after a last second win over Northwestern Paterno mentioned he was going to “get in trouble with a good stiff bourbon” and I decided to start toasting to every Penn State victory with his favorite spirit.

Let’s hope he breaks Eddie Robinson’s all-time division I record on Saturday.

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