Dinner White Night
Dinner White Night
The 1982 National Champions, the Penn State Nittany Lions
On January 1, 1983, the Nittany Lions of Penn State, and their Coach Joe Paterno, ended a long quest for a national championship. The location was the New Orleans Super Dome, with their opponents the Bulldogs of the University of Georgia. Penn State was ranked number one and Georgia was number two in the Associated Press Poll. The final score was 27-23.
The main concern of the Nittany Lions was to stop Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker. They had a defense which they called the "Magic Defense", a defense where the linemen and linebackers shifted into various configurations. Walker was held to 107 yards on 28 carries, one of his lowest one-game productions since his freshman year.
Paterno knew what had gotten him into the position to win his first title and told quarterback Todd Blackledge, "We're going to take it right to 'em." After four quick completions by Blackledge, running back Curt Warner ran it in from two yards out for their first score. The first half belonged to Penn State. But during the second half things began to change. Blackledge was sacked five times. Curt Warner hobbled off the field in pain but later returned to outperform the Heisman Trophy winner by logging 117 rushing yards, two touchdowns, and by catching two passes for 23 yards. Warner said, "Sometimes you have to play with pain. It's a one shot deal." Blackledge's first half magic seemed to disappear until he found Gregg Garrity deep for another score. Then he made another key play late in the fourth quarter completing another pass to Garrity that enabled them to run out the clock and claim their first national title.
Penn State players refer to their away uniforms as their "Dinner Whites." This win for Penn State on New Year's night in the New Orleans Super Dome was a “Dinner White Night” for a deserving Nittany Lion coach and team.