1980 Fiesta Bowl
Offensive Player of the Game: Curt Warner, Penn State
Defensive Player of the Game: Frank Case, Penn State
Sportsmanship Award: Frank Case, Penn State
Head Coaches: Joe Paterno, Penn State - Earle Bruce, Ohio State
Weather: Thin clouds
Payout Per Team: $475,564.07
Penn State and Ohio State battled in one of the outstanding bowl match-ups of the 1980 season.
The game could have gone either way, as both teams had several opportunities to win. But it was the Nittany Lion defense that held its ground in the second half to help PSU overcome a 19-10 halftime deficit and post a 31-19 victory in front of a record crowd of 66,738.
The game had several fireworks, and it didn’t take long to set them off. On Penn State’s first play from scrimmage, Curt Warner took a handoff off left tackle and sprinted 64 yards for a touchdown to give the Nittany Lions a 7-0 advantage.
It didn’t faze Ohio State, however, as the Buckeyes promptly scored 19 straight points due to a stellar performance by quarterback Art Schlichter. Schlichter completed 15 of 22 first half passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns. Two of his TD tosses went to split end Doug Donley and the other to Gary Williams.
Penn State managed a 38-yard field goal by Herb Menhardt just eight seconds before the halftime gun, to narrow the OSU lead to 19-10.
Penn State came out of the locker room like gangbusters in the second half, scoring a touchdown in less than five minutes on a three-yard quarterback keeper by Todd Blackledge.
PSU then turned to its ground game. Jonathan Williams had a four-yard TD run to give PSU the lead, and Booker Moore added a 37-yard dash to secure the win in the 1980 Fiesta Bowl.
The Penn State defense held Ohio State without any net yardage in the third quarter and just 73 yards in the entire second half, after allowing 339 yards in the first half.