1983 Sugar Bowl
49th edition
National Championship Game
1234 Total
Penn State 71307 27
Georgia 3776 23
DateJanuary 1, 1983
StadiumLouisiana Superdome
LocationNew Orleans, Louisiana
MVPTodd Blackledge
(Penn State QB)
FavoritePenn State by 4 points
RefereeVance Carlson (Big Eight)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersKeith Jackson and Frank Broyles
Sugar Bowl
 < 1982  1984
College Football Championship Game
 < 1979 1984

The 1983 Sugar Bowl was the 49th edition of the college football bowl game, played at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Saturday, January 1. Part of the 1982–83 bowl game season, it matched the undefeated and top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and the #2 Penn State Nittany Lions, an independent.[1] Penn State won 27–23 to finish atop the final polls as national champions.[2][3][4][5]


Main article: 1982 NCAA Division I-A football season

Penn State

Main article: 1982 Penn State Nittany Lions football team


Main article: 1982 Georgia Bulldogs football team

Game summary

The game kicked off shortly after 7 p.m. CST, televised by ABC, at the same time as the Orange Bowl on NBC.[1]

Both teams scored on their first possession of the game. Penn State running back Curt Warner scored on a 2-yard touchdown run and the Nittany Lions led 7–0. He finished the game with 117 yards rushing. Georgia got on the board following a 27-yard field goal from Kevin Butler to make it 7–3.

In the second quarter, after two possessions for each team had ended in punts, Nick Gancitano kicked a 38-yard field goal to put the Nittany Lions ahead, 10–3.

After a 65-yard punt return by Kevin Baugh only resulted in a missed field goal for Penn State, Warner added a 9-yard touchdown run on a 65-yard drive that took just under two minutes. With only 44 seconds left in the first half, Gancitano made a 45-yard field goal for Penn State to take a commanding 20–3 lead.

After the ensuing kick-off, however, quarterback John Lastinger drove the Bulldogs down the field, completing four of five passes, including one that Kevin Harris lateralled to Herschel Walker for a 26-yard gain. With five seconds remaining in the half, Lastinger threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Herman Archie to cut the margin to 20–10 at halftime.[2][3]

Opening the second half, Georgia mounted a 64-yard drive, which was capped when Herschel Walker scored on a 1-yard touchdown run, cutting the margin to 20–17. Georgia had thus scored touchdowns on consecutive possessions (one to end the first half and one to open the second), with Penn State only touching the ball intermittently to run out the clock in the first half. However, the Bulldogs wouldn't score again for almost 22 minutes of game time and John Lastinger went on to throw two interceptions.

Penn State cashed in on the second one with a 47-yard play-action touchdown pass from Todd Blackledge to wide receiver Gregg Garrity to give Penn State a 27–17 lead. Lastinger threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Clarence Kay to close the margin to 27–23 with 3:54 left. After the subsequent kick-off, however, Penn State was able to run out the clock, only having to punt as time was expiring.[2][3][4]

Scoring summary

Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring information Score
Plays Yards TOP PSU UGA
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 27 23


1 2 3 4 Total
No. 2 Nittany Lions 7 13 0 7 27
No. 1 Bulldogs 3 7 7 6 23
Statistics PSU UGA
First downs 19 19
Plays–yards 67–367 74–326
Rushes–yards 44–139 46–160
Passing yards 228 166
Passing: comp–att–int 13–23–0 12–28–2
Time of possession 30:38 29:22
Team Category Player Statistics
Penn State Passing
Georgia Passing


  1. ^ a b "Sugar Bowl foes eye No. 1 test". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). January 1, 1983. p. 15.
  2. ^ a b c Donovan, Dan (January 2, 1983). "Penn State triumphs, 27-23; No. 1 next?". Pittsburgh Press. p. C1.
  3. ^ a b c "No. 2 Lions sweeten bid to be No. 1". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 2, 1983. p. 1D.
  4. ^ a b Papanek, John (January 10, 1983). "But how 'bout them Lions?". Sports Illustrated. p. 14.
  5. ^ Donovan, Dan (January 3, 1983). "National title belongs to players – Paterno". Pittsburgh Press. p. C1.