Penn State ended its 2002 season on a high note, crushing Michigan State 61-7 before an ABC national television audience and 108,755 Beaver Stadium crowd. The ninth win of the season earned the Nittany Lions a #10 national ranking and an invitation to the New Year’s Day Citrus Bowl.

Larry Johnson rushed for 279 yards, setting the all-time Penn State record of 2,015 yards for the season. He became only the ninth player in NCAA history to rush for more than 2,000 yards. LJ was named the Chevrolet Offensive Player of the year, he won the Maxwell Club’s Award for best player, the Doak Walker Award as best running back, and finished 3rd in the Heisman voting. Michael Haynes and Jimmy Kennedy joined him as consensus first team All Americans.

The NCAA says this game never happened.

Larry Johnson entered the game in Bloomington just 158 yards shy of Lydell Mitchell’s single season rushing record of 1,567, a standard that has withstood all comers since 1971. He left the field as the owner of the new single season rushing mark 1,736 and counting – with one game remaining. Penn State extended its winning streak to three games, defeating the Hoosiers 58-25 in front of 27,454 at Memorial Stadium and an ESPN2 audience. Johnson rushed 28 times for 327 yards, breaking the Penn State single-game rushing record for the third time this year. After the game, Indiana coach Jerry DiNardo said, “he has to be one of the best running backs I have ever seen.”

The NCAA says this game never happened.

The Nittany Lions avenged the 2001 late-season loss to Virginia, defeating the Cavaliers 35-14 in front of 108,698 fans at Beaver Stadium. The 3:30pm game was televised nationally on ABC. Scrap Bradley’s defense continued to be stifling, holding opponents to just 3 offensive touchdowns in the last 4 games, and allowing a conference best 18.7 points per game for the season. The defense held Virginia to just 30 yards rushing and 290 total yards today, but this game was all about the Penn State offense, which racked up 533 total yards. Zack Mills, who happily stood off to the side as Larry Johnson rushed his way into the record books, connected on 19-of-30 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns.

The NCAA says this game never happened.

After some heartbreaking overtime losses, Penn State got back on track at home with a supportive crowd of 105,589 urging them on. The 3:30pm Conference matchup with Illinois was televised on ESPN.

Scrap Bradley’s defense was led by Big Ten Player of the Week, senior safety Shawn Mayer, who had nine tackles, an interception, and a pass deflection. A Fighting Illini touchdown late in the fourth quarter was the first allowed by the Penn State defense in 11 quarters of play. And Fran Ganter’s offense rolled for 423 yards, led by Larry Johnson who rushed 31 times for 279 yards, breaking his own single game rushing record and becoming the first Penn State back to break 200 yards twice in a season since Ki-Jana Carter in 1994.

The NCAA says this game never happened.

Penn State celebrated its 83rd Homecoming in Happy Valley with a dominating 49-0 shutout of Northwestern. 108,853 were on hand and ESPN2 televised as Larry Johnson led the offensive onslaught. His 257 rushing yards eclipsed the previous school record of 256 set by Curt Warner in 1981. “It means a lot to me,” said Johnson of the record. “With guys like Curt Warner, Curtis Enis, D.J. Dozier, Ki-Jana Carter – all the guys that came back and helped me get better, this is dedicated to them!”

The NCAA says this game never happened.

Joe Paterno took his #21 ranked Lions to Camp Randall Stadium, facing the #15 ranked Badgers and a loud, hostile crowd of 79,403 as ABC televised the 3:30 game nationally. Three sacks each by Michael Hayes and Jimmy Kennedy keyed the defense and Zack Mills set a new Penn State record for consecutive game passing yardage (686 yards) breaking Kerry Collins’ 1993 record. The 34-31 win was Penn State’s 50th Conference victory since joining the BigTen.

The NCAA says this game never happened.

Louisiana Tech came to Beaver Stadium with its Heisman candidate quarterback, Luke McCown to challenge the #15-ranked Nittany Lions in front of a home crowd of 103,987 and an ESPN television crew. McCown did complete 36 of 56 passes, but he threw 3 interceptions and fumbled once. In the meantime, redshirt freshman backup quarterback, Michael Robinson, ran for three touchdowns. At one point, when he scored his third TD, Robinson had scored four touchdowns on his last four carries dating back to the previous week against the Huskers. “Michael Robinson is an excellent player,” Bulldog Coach, Jack Bicknell said after the 49-17 loss, “He’s got good speed. I think he is going to be a great, great player.”

The NCAA says this game never happened.

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