1997 Fiesta Bowl (January)

The 1997 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl game was a post-season college football bowl game between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Texas Longhorns on January 1, 1997, at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. Penn State defeated Texas, 38-15. The game was part of the 1996-1997 Bowl Alliance of the 1996 NCAA Division I-A football season and represented the concluding game of the season for both teams.

The Longhorns, who were fresh off their upset of No. 3 Nebraska in the first ever Big 12 Championship Game, went into their second straight Alliance bowl with a five-game winning streak.

1997 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
January Bowl Game
Penn State Nittany Lions Texas Longhorns
(10-2) (8-4)
Big Ten Big 12
38 15
Head coach: 
Joe Paterno
Head coach: 
John Mackovic
1234 Total
Penn State 702110 38
Texas 3930 15
DateJanuary 1, 1997
StadiumSun Devil Stadium
LocationTempe, Arizona
FavoriteTexas by 1[1]
RefereeMack Gentry (SEC)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersJim Nantz and Terry Donahue

Game Summary

Texas outgained Penn State 242-95 yards in the first half and posted a 12-7 lead at the half. Quarterback James Brown completed 13 of 18 passes for 150 yards and Ricky Williams ran for 47 yards and a touchdown on nine carries in the first 30 minutes. However, an interception, two drives which were stopped at the Penn State 11, and a failed two-point conversion allowed the Nittany Lions to remain close.

Penn State’s opening score was set up by a Brown interception at the Texas 26 on the second play from scrimmage. The Lions drove to the end zone in four plays, which ended in a four-yard touchdown pass from Wally Richardson to Curtis Enis.

The Longhorns bounced back and drove to the Penn State seven, and Phil Dawson connected on a 28-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3.

The Lions ended with a three-and-out on consecutive possessions and, on their first possession of the second quarter, Texas planned another solid drive and found the end zone as Williams charged ran across the goal line for a seven-yard score. The two-point conversion failed.

The third quarter was the turning point in the game. Penn State scored 21 points with three rushing scores and limited the Longhorns to just a field goal. Penn State led 28-15 at the end of the third quarter.

On the Lions’ final series of the third quarter, Chafie Fields set up a one-yard touchdown run by Anthony Cleary on an 85-yard double-reverse to the Texas five-yard line.

Texas failed to produce any more offense as Penn State scored 10 more points to seal the 38-15 victory. Penn State outgained the Texas offense 425-360, 330-118 in the second half.


  1. ^ http://www.oddsshark.com/ncaaf/fiesta-bowl-odds
1997 Fiesta Bowl

The 1997 Fiesta Bowl may refer to:

1997 Fiesta Bowl (January) - January 1, 1997, game (after the 1996 season) between Penn State and Texas

1997 Fiesta Bowl (December) - December 31, 1997, game (after the 1997 season) between Kansas State and Syracuse

Bowl Alliance

The Bowl Alliance was an agreement among college football bowl games (specifically the Sugar, Orange, and Fiesta Bowls) for the purpose of trying to match the top two teams in a national championship bowl game and to provide quality bowl game matchups for the champions of its member conferences. The agreement was in place for the 1995, 1996, and 1997 seasons and had replaced the Bowl Coalition. Each participating team in the Bowl Alliance Championship received $8.5 million from the television sponsors.

History & conference tie-ins

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