Ohio State has been the higher ranked and/or favored team in 26 of 36 meetings with Penn State since the inception of the AP Poll, so it stands as no surprise that the Nittany Lions have sprung the majority of the upsets in the series. They’ve had way more chances.

There are only 8 games in the Ohio State vs. Penn State rivalry that count as upsets, and we’re stretching a little bit to include the 8th one. Take out Penn State pre-Big Ten, and only 5 upsets have occurred over 29 meetings as league mates.

Recent history provides the ultimate unlikely uber upset. Then a tour spanning 7 decades ensues.

Penn State 24, No. 2 Ohio State 21 (2016)

If not for this game, Ohio State would have been riding a 10-game series winning streak into its meet-up with the Lions back at Beaver Stadium in late October of 2022.

Six years later, it is still hard to believe Penn State actually won this game, which it entered as a 17.5-point underdog. The Lions (4-2) were unranked, and had been since 2011. Ohio State (6-0) was No. 2 in the country.

But after the Buckeyes built a 21-7 lead through 3 quarters, Penn State chipped away and then delivered a haymaker of a knockout blow on special teams.

Marcus Allen blocked a long OSU field goal attempt, and Grant Haley did the rest, scooping up the ball and going 60 yards for the go-ahead score. This is probably the most magical moment in White Out after dark history for Penn State, and the Lions went on to win their lone Big Ten championship game that year.

Ohio State held PSU quarterback Trace McSorley to 8 completions, notched a safety on special teams and dominated almost every statistical category. The Buckeyes won in total yards (413-276), passing yards (245-154), rushing yards (168-122), first downs (19-13), third-down conversions (9-22 vs. 2-13), fourth-down conversions (1-2 vs. 0-1), turnovers (0-1) and time of possession (37:19-22:41). How does that add up to a loss?

Ohio State won out in the regular season and made the CFP ahead of 2-loss Penn State.

Penn State 27, No. 2 Ohio State 0 (1964)

This was a monumental upset, as Penn State (3-4 entering the contest) took down No. 2 Ohio State (6-0), beating legendary coach Woody Hayes for a 2nd straight year.

Counting a 1956 meeting, it was the 3rd time in as many tries that Rip Engle and assistant Joe Paterno had taken down a top-10 Hayes-led squad. All those were played in Columbus, as Hayes and the Buckeyes didn’t grace State College with their presence until 1976.

Sports Betting in Big Ten Country

There is big news coming to the upcoming 2022-23 Big Ten football season (and NFL season). Ohio online sports betting and Maryland sports betting are on the way.

21+ and present in OH. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.

“It was the soundest trouncing we ever had,” Hayes conceded. “We didn’t seem to be able to establish anything. They were a great team today.”

For nostalgia fans, these recollections of a then PSU sophomore who listened to the game on the radio in his dorm room are worth your time.

Penn State 7, No. 5 Ohio State 6 (1956)

No. 5 Ohio State was 3-0 when it hosted Penn State (2-1 and unranked) for the first time in 44 years. Various contemporaneous reports listed the Lions as 2-TD or even 3-TD underdogs.

But Penn State won a field position victory with a long punt, which led to the game’s first score with about 3 minutes remaining. Ohio State marched down the field for a matching touchdown, but missed the PAT after a penalty backed up the attempt by 5 yards.

Penn State recovered an on-side kick, and Rip Engle had the first of his 3 wins over legendary OSU coach Woody Hayes. Engle is probably the only coach with as many as 3 wins over Hayes without a loss.

Black Shoe Diaries calls it one of the greatest upsets in Penn State history.

Penn State 10, No. 10 Ohio State 7 (1963)

Like it had done 7 years earlier, Rip Engle’s PSU squad beat Ohio State at its own game — conservative, smashmouth football — in its own stadium, shocking the more than 83,000 spectators on hand.

Penn State entered the game 5-2 and unranked. Ohio State was 4-1-1 and No. 10.

After stopping Ohio State near midfield late in the game, Penn State marched to the OSU 6-yard line, setting up Ron Coates’s game-winning field goal.

At this point, Penn State, an Eastern independent, was 3-0 against the Buckeyes of the mighty Big Ten conference.

No. 16 Penn State 17, No. 6 Ohio State 10 (2005)

Though Penn State was 5-0, it entered the game as a 3.5-point underdog. Ohio State was 3-1 with a narrow loss to No. 2 Texas a month earlier.

The Lions, coming off a multi-year stretch of bad football, weren’t even ranked until beating No. 18 Minnesota 44-14 the week before. But Joe Paterno’s rebuild, with dual-threat quarterback Michael Robinson leading the way, was legit.

The Penn State defense, led by Paul Posluszny, held visiting Ohio State to 230 yards and forced 3 turnovers.

The Lions went on to finish 11-1 and No. 3, 1 win and 1 spot in the AP poll better than the Buckeyes.

No. 15 Ohio State 24, No. 11 Penn State 7 (2009)

Penn State (7-1) was a 4.5-point favorite over Ohio State (7-2) in a battle of the Big Ten’s top 2 defenses.

Terrelle Pryor proved to be the hero for Ohio State with 125 passing yards plus another 50 and a TD on the ground. That turned out to be plenty of firepower, as Penn State generated just 201 yards and 9 first downs.

The Buckeyes rode the momentum to 3 more wins and a No. 5 final ranking.

Penn State 29, Ohio State 27 (2001)

The programs have met as unranked teams only twice in 36 games since the dawn of the AP Poll, and Penn State definitely entered as the underdog in this one.

The Lions were 1-4 and 7-point home underdogs to the Bucks (4-2), and PSU proceeded to fall behind 27-9. But freshman Zack Mills replaced Matt Seneca at quarterback and sparked a rally. Mills actually threw a pick-6 to give OSU its final points, but then ran 69 yards for a score and passed for 2 more.

The win was No. 324 for Joe Paterno, giving him the all-time D1 record.

Mills led Penn State to a 9-4 season the next year, which included a 13-7 loss to 2002 national champ Ohio State.

No. 6 Ohio State 39, No. 2 Penn State 38 (2017)

By the rankings, it’s an upset, though Ohio State was actually a 7-point favorite at home.

Considering unbeaten Penn State (7-0) led by 15 points in the fourth quarter over the Buckeyes (6-1), this is definitely the most upsetting loss for Nittany Lions fans during James Franklin’s tenure.

There was no stopping JT Barrett down the stretch. The OSU star quarterback went 13-for-13 in the fourth quarter for 170 yards and 3 of his 4 TD passes. All told, the 5th-year senior finished 33-for-39 for 328 yards and tacked on another 95 yards on 17 rushes.

In the final year that Penn State had Trace McSorley, Saquon Barkley and OC Joe Moorhead together, it couldn’t get past the Buckeyes — and ultimately, couldn’t reach its first Playoff, either.