PSU Season Snapshot: 1987

Matt Knizner

A daily series featuring each Penn State football season from 1947-2019:

Year: 1987

Coach: Joe Paterno

Final record: 8-4

Final ranking: Not ranked

Regular-season wins: Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Boston College, Temple, Rutgers, West Virginia, Maryland, Notre Dame

Regular-season losses: Alabama, Syracuse, Pitt

Bowl game: Lost to Clemson, 35-10, in the Citrus Bowl

Team stat leaders: Blair Thomas rushed for 1,414 yards and 11 TDs and caught 23 passes for 300 yards; Matt Knizner passed for 1,478 yards; Brian Chizmar had 69 tackles and intercepted 3 passes; Pete Curkendall had 7 sacks

All-American: OG Steve Wisniewski

Neil Rudel’s take: The record said 8-4, but this was not a good team. The lone highlight was a 21-20 upset of No. 7 Notre Dame at frigid Beaver Stadium when the Lions (Trey Bauer, Pete Curkendall) stopped Tony Rice’s late 2-point conversion try. The season opener with Paterno’s 200th victory (over Bowling Green). Afterward, a reporter (OK, it was me) asked him if it was the last 100 milestone he expected to pass. He cracked, “I may live to be 100, but I sure won’t be around for another 100 wins.” Blair Thomas’ 1414 rushing yards were at the time third highest single-season total behind Lydell Mitchell and Cappy. The Lions lost to Alabama and Pitt (10-0, Mike Gottfried sprinted beside the late game-clinching interception return and joined the fleshpile) and were blown out at Syracuse and by Clemson in the Citrus Bowl.


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