In the Sun Devils' final year in the Western Athletic Conference, they were co-champion of the WAC for the 7th and last time, playing in their fifth Fiesta Bowl. They were invited to the Fiesta Bowl after co-champion BYU backed out due to the bowl being slated to play on a Sunday.  Penn State was once ranked #4 before a loss to Kentucky, but won seven straight after that in their first Fiesta Bowl appearance.
Joe Lally blocked a punt and returned it 21 yards to give Penn State the lead early in the first quarter. Bob Torrey caught a touchdown pass from Chuck Fusina to make it 14-0. Arthur Lane caught a touchdown pass from Dennis Sproul to narrow it to 14-7. Bahr made it 17-7 with a field goal. Ron Washington caught a touchdown pass from Sproul to narrow it to 17-14 at halftime. A touchdown run by Steve Geise made it 24-14 at the end of the third, and a touchdown run by Matt Suhey made it 31-14 early in the fourth. Washington caught another touchdown pass from Sproul to narrow it to 31-21, but Bahr kicked another field goal to make it 34-21. George Perry ran in for a touchdown to make the lead 34-28, but Suhey's second touchdown run and a safety late in the game sealed the game for Penn State, who won their first ever Fiesta Bowl. 
Penn State would return to the Fiesta Bowl in 1980; Arizona State would return in 1983.