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Bowl Memories: The Genius Gets the Best of the Legend

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Stanford's trip to the Orange Bowl next week will mark the school's 22nd bowl game and third in the state of Florida. Here's a look back at the 1992 Blockbuster Bowl in Fort Lauderdale. Previously: The 1986 Gator Bowl.

The 1992 Blockbuster Bowl was billed as a matchup between a coaching genius, Stanford's Bill Walsh, and a coaching legend, Penn State's Joe Paterno. The game, which featured 18 punts, four interceptions, and two fumbles, was hardly the stuff of legend.

Earlier in the week, JoePa predicted that his team's running game would make the Cardinal's 10th-ranked defense "say ouch," but it was the Nittany Lions, who were limited to 107 rushing yards and held without a touchdown for the first time since Oct. 27, 1990, who were left feeling bruised in Stanford's 24-3 win.

"They were a better football team than we were today," Paterno said after the game. "I don't think there was any turning point."

Stanford scored on its opening possession when Steve Stenstrom capped an eight play, 71-yard drive with a touchdown pass to Ryan Wetnight. Stanford took a 14-3 lead shortly before the half on a five-yard TD run by J.J. Lasley.

It wasn't the Cardinal's prettiest performance, but it gave Stanford (10-3) its first 10-win season since 1940.

"We've just completed a wonderful season," Walsh said. "I need to credit Dennis Green for establishing the program. I just got to go along for the ride. Any time in a season you beat a Penn State, a Notre Dame, USC and UCLA, that's pretty good for us."

Stanford All-America Glyn Milburn gained only 19 yards on nine carries, but caught four passes for 54 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown.

Penn State, which was playing its final game as an independent and wore Big 10 patches on its uniforms, dropped to 7-5. Quarterback Kerry Collins finished 12-for-30 for 145 yards and an interception, while receiver O.J. McDuffie caught six passes for 111 yards. Stanford cornerback Darrien Gordon, who won game MVP honors after breaking up six passes and recording seven tackles, was matched up with McDuffie for much of the game and helped keep the Nittany Lions star out of the end zone.  

Gordon drew rave reviews from teammate John Lynch.

"The more I think about it, it's a shame Darrien hasn't gotten more recognition," Lynch said. "I think he's the best cornerback in the country -- he takes on all the top receivers. You put him on the best receiver and he gets results. There's no doubt in my mind Darrien is going to be a fine NFL player."

Lynch would turn out to be a fine NFL player, too.