3.) 1978 – Beaver Stadium: Penn State – 27 Maryland – 3
The game was billed as the “Battle of the Unbeatens” and had unarguably more hype than any game previously played in Beaver Stadium. National attention, vitriol between opponents, and more importantly high ranking. Both teams entered the game 8-0 and in contention for the national championship; for Maryland, they worked their way from preseason unranked to #5 nationally; Penn State was second only to Alabama.
For disciplinarian Jerry Claiborne and the Terps, this was the year they finally broke Penn State’s will and ended those memories of the most lopsided rivalry of all time. The Terps had blasted North Carolina State (the only other ranked team they’d played) 31-7, and would’ve had a national title run within their grasps with a victory.
Well, Maryland forgot that Penn State had the best run defense in the country, and were a team that gave up only 9.2 points per game the entire season. The Terps struggled to gain anything on the ground as future NFL running back Steve Atkins was stymied all game long. Broadcast analyst and worst GM of all time Matt Millen got to the quarterback so much that the Terps ended up pulling starter Tim O’Hare in favor of future NFL head coach Mike Tice.
Maryland managed to get into the red zone four times, but interceptions ultimately killed their chances and Penn State ended up winning their 17th straight game (the streak would end in their bowl game against #2 Alabama at 19 straight) and got that #1 ranking. The Terps, meanwhile, lost two of their next three and dropped to 20th in the rankings after losing to Texas in their bowl game 42-0.