1969 Orange Bowl
35th Orange Bowl
1234 Total
Penn State 0708 15
Kansas 7007 14
DateJanuary 1, 1969
StadiumOrange Bowl
LocationMiami, Florida
MVPDonnie Shanklin (Kansas HB)
FavoritePenn State by 3 points[1]
RefereeEarl Jansen (Big Eight)
(split crew: Big Eight, ECAC)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersJim Simpson, Al DeRogatis
Orange Bowl
 < 1968  1970

The 1969 Orange Bowl was the 35th edition of the college football bowl game, played at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, on Wednesday, January 1. The final game of the 1968–69 bowl game season, it matched the independent third-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions and the #6 Kansas Jayhawks of the Big Eight Conference. Favored Penn State rallied to win with a late touchdown and two-point conversion, 15–14.[2][3][4][5][6]


Main article: 1968 NCAA University Division football season

Penn State

Main article: 1968 Penn State Nittany Lions football team

Penn State was going for their first undefeated season, though a national championship was unlikely due to being ranked third with #1 Ohio State and #2 USC matched up in the Rose Bowl.[1] This was the Nittany Lions' first appearance in the Orange Bowl.


Main article: 1968 Kansas Jayhawks football team

The Jayhawks were co-champion of the Big Eight with Oklahoma, who went to the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl. This was Kansas' first conference title since 1947, their first bowl game in seven years, and first Orange Bowl since 1948. Their only loss in the regular season was to Oklahoma by four points.[7]

Game summary

This was the fifth straight year for a night kickoff at the Orange Bowl, following the Rose Bowl. The temperature was 65 °F (18 °C).[2]

Fullback Mike Reeves scored from two yards out to give Kansas the lead in the first quarter. Penn State tied the game at seven before halftime on halfback Charlie Pittman's thirteen-yard run.

After a scoreless third quarter, John Riggins gave the Jayhawks a 14–7 lead on his one-yard touchdown plunge. Kansas had another chance to score with the ball at Penn State's 14 on fourth down with one yard to go. Instead of kicking the field goal, they went for the first down, but Riggins was stuffed for no gain.

With 1:16 remaining, Kansas had fourth down on their own 25-yard line; a partially blocked punt gave the ball back to Penn State at the Penn State 49 yard line. On the next play wingback Bob Campbell caught a pass from quarterback Chuck Burkhart on a long play and was tackled at the three-yard line. After two runs for no gain, Burkhart bootlegged left to make it 14–13 with fifteen seconds remaining, and Penn State opted to go for the win with a two-point conversion attempt.

The conversion attempt was denied as Burkhart's pass to the right was batted down in the end zone, which prompted the Kansas fans to rush the field. But the game was not over, a penalty had been called on Kansas for twelve men on the field. On the second attempt, Campbell scored around left end and the two point conversion was successful, to give the Nittany Lions the one-point win.[2][3][5][8]


First quarter
Second quarter
Third quarter
No scoring
Fourth quarter


Statistics Penn State    Kansas   
First downs 17 16
Rushing yards 55–207 59–76
Passing yards 154 165
Passes (C–A–I) 12–23–2 9–18–1
Total offense 78–361 77–241
Punts–average 9–38.1 10–38.3
Fumbles–lost 2–2 2–0
Turnovers 4 1
Penalties–yards 1–15 2–10


Despite Riggins' return for his junior season, the graduations of quarterback Bobby Douglass and defensive end John Zook hurt the Jayhawks, and they won just once in 1969. The Jayhawks improved to 5-6 in 1970, Riggins' senior season and Rodgers' last in Lawrence before succeeding Tommy Prothro at UCLA.

Kansas did not have another winning season until 1973, and did not return to the Orange Bowl until January 2008.

Penn State returned to the Orange Bowl the following year, and won again, defeating Kansas' archrival, Missouri to complete another 11-0 season. When head coach Joe Paterno was later asked what football game was his favorite game of all time he answered, the 1969 Orange Bowl.


  1. ^ a b "Clash of 1-2 ranked teams feature of grid bowl menu". Lawrence Daily Journal-World. (Kansas). Associated Press. January 1, 1969. p. 16.
  2. ^ a b c d e Woodling, Chuck (January 2, 1969). "KU slips from victory to Heartbreak Hotel". Lawrence Daily Journal-World. (Kansas). p. 12.
  3. ^ a b c d Abrams, Al (January 2, 1969). "Penn State squeezes last ounce win in Orange Bowl". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 16.
  4. ^ a b c McHugh, Roy (January 2, 1969). "'Dead' Lions claw out Orange win". Pittsburgh Press. p. 36.
  5. ^ a b "Extra man costly for Kansas team". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. January 2, 1969. p. 15.
  6. ^ "Penn State gains last second win". The Bulletin. (Bend, Oregon). UPI. January 2, 1969. p. 6.
  7. ^ "Unimpressed Sooners tip highly-regarded Kansans". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. November 10, 1968. p. 11, sports.
  8. ^ "The 1960s | Orange Bowl".
  9. ^ a b "Game-by-game recaps: 1969" (PDF). 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl media guide. January 2019. p. 34.