Nittany Lions Nation's Only Team to Not Allow More Than 21 Points
STATE COLLEGE, Pa., December 6, 2004 - The Penn State defense played superbly all season and can lay claim as the only unit in the nation to not allow more than 21 points in a game throughout the 2004 campaign.
Penn State and Auburn had been the only teams in the nation to not allow 21 points, but the Tigers allowed Tennessee to score 28 in Saturday's Southeastern Conference Championship game.
The Nittany Lion defense, which returns nine starters, allowed 14 touchdowns in 11 games (1.27 avg.), held all 11 opponents below their total offense average and 10 opponents below their scoring average. Penn State allowed 18 touchdowns overall, including two interception returns and two punt returns for scores. The Lions are one of just seven teams that have allowed 18 touchdowns or less this season, joining Auburn, USC and Virginia Tech (12 games), as well as California, Florida State and Troy (11 games).
Penn State became just the third Big Ten team since 1993, the Lions' first season of conference play, to not allow more than 21 points in a game in the regular season. The others were Wisconsin in 1999 and Ohio State in 2002. The last time the Nittany Lions had not allowed more than 21 points in every game during an entire regular season was in 1990.
The consistently stellar defensive effort has the Nittany Lions ranked in the top 12 nationally in three statistical categories with the conclusion of the regular season. Penn State is ranked ninth nationally in scoring defense at 15.3 points per game, the fewest it has allowed since the 1991 team's 13.9 ppg average.
The Nittany Lions are 11th in the nation in total defense at 291.5 ypg, also the squad's best performance since permitting 280.0 ypg in 1991. Penn State improved its total defense average by more than 70 yards from last year's 362.4 ypg.
Penn State's pass defense is ranked No. 7 nationally at 162.3 ypg. The Nittany Lions are 37th in the nation in rushing defense at 129.3 ypg, an improvement of 80 yards per game from the 2003 average of 209.1 ypg.
In the Big Ten rankings, Penn State is second to Wisconsin in scoring and pass defense, third to the Badgers and Iowa in total defense and sixth in rushing defense.
In conference games only, the Nittany Lions were first in the Big Ten in scoring (15.5 ppg) and pass defense (155.2 ypg), second in total defense (300.4 ypg) and sixth in rushing (145.1 ypg).
Penn State held all 11 opponents below its season average in total offense. The Lions closed the season by limiting Michigan State to 338 yards, which was 120.4 yards below its season average, in the 37-13 win on Nov. 20. The Spartans are leading the Big Ten in total offense at 460.0 ypg. Penn State held five opponents 120 yards or more below their season total offense average.
The Nittany Lions held the Spartans to just 13 points, which was 17.2 points below their season average at the time. Penn State held 10 opponents below their season scoring average. Boston College was the only team to score above its average.
Penn State turned the ball over 27 times this season, but the defense was superlative in the quick turnaround situations, allowing only four touchdowns and three field goals for a total of 37 points.
The Nittany Lions will return 17 of their top 19 tacklers for the 2005 season, including leading tackler, linebacker Paul Posluszny (104 tkls). A sophomore, Posluszny earned second team All-Big Ten honors along with junior defensive end Tamba Hali and junior cornerback Alan Zemaitis.
Coach Joe Paterno's squad won its final two games and returns 19 starters (9 offense, 9 defense, 1 specialist) for the 2005 season, which begins Sep t.3vs.South Florida in Beaver Stadium.