It started out looking like the Nittany Lions would wind up on the short end of the stick, but due to a record-breaking performance by sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg and the consistent foot of senior kicker Sam Ficken, Penn State (7-6) was able to come back from a 21-7 late in the third quarter to tie at 24 in regulation and beat Boston College (7-6) 31-30 in OT.
Hack was 34-50 for 371 yards and four touchdowns. This performance broke or tied five different Penn State bowl records.
The Hackmeister spread the ball around to eight different receivers. Freshmen Chris Godwin and DaeSean Hamilton, along with sophomore Geno Lewis, each had seven catches, including Godwin’s 72-yard touchdown reception.
Nobody gets the Nittany Turkey Panel of Experts Predictor of the Week award. We were all flawed in our prognostication, except maybe K. John, who didn’t make an official prediction. Thus, he can claim that he was right all along.
The Penn State running game never got on track. I’d say they “extablished” the running game, meaning they tried to establish it but it was largely extinguished, although sophomore running back Akeel Lynch wound up with 75 yards on 17 carries. Bill Belton added three carries for a lousy eight yards.
As expected, dual threat graduate scholar quarterback Tyler Murphy was a handful for the Penn State defense. Passing, he was 11-19 for 97 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground he ran eleven times for 105 yards. His freshman sidekick running back Jon Hilliman also ripped apart the vaunted Penn State run defense with 25 carries for 148 yards. By the end of the third quarter, the Eagles had run for 239 yards — that’s 20 more than Ohio State was able to muster in four quarters plus two overtimes.
Yeah, so I’ll give you your #1 rushing defense right here. In all, BC torched them for 285 rushing yards. They averaged 7.7 yards per rush.
Meanwhile, Penn State’s runners were held to 82 yards, a credit sort of to the BC #4 ranked rushing defense.
Tied heading into overtime, BC had the first possession, scoring a touchdown. However, kicking problems that have existed all year for the Eagles picked the wrong time to rear their ugly head. After having made a field goal and three extra points in regulation, freshman place kicker Mike Knoll badly shanked the extra point in overtime, leaving the door open for Penn State.
Hack was up to the challenge, conducting a six play drive culminating in a 10 yard pass to Kyle Carter for the touchdown. It all came down to the trusty foot of Sam Ficken as fans sat on the edge of their chairs. Ficken wound up with a perfect evening, including a 45-yard field goal and four extra points. All were necessary but none so emotional as the game winner.
It was a great way for Ficken to end his Penn State career, and the fun was enhanced by being in the Yankees locker room and using Derek Jeter’s former locker for the evening.
Now, WTF are we going to do for a kicker next year?
Tickets sold out in thirty-six hours. To say that Penn State fans were hungry for a bowl game was an understatement. The final attendance was 49,012.
Great job, Penn State! Way to give us some optimism heading into the hibernation period!
Now, let’s watch those Men of Steel kick some Bengal ass!
K. John says
I did make a pick, just not here. I would have got it wrong because the pick was 35 to 10 which was actually very close to coming to fruition. Too bad the youngsters up front lined up incorrectly on four plays literally giving BC 151 yards and 14 points worth of unearned offense turning what should have been a comfortable win into an OT fiasco but that is what they have consistently done this year. Shoot themselves in the foot enough to let drastically inferior teams hang around. Unfortunately, the defense made the mistakes yesterday. Four simple mistakes was the difference between a blowout and OT because BC’s offense did nothing for most of the game. BC didn’t torch anyone. The average 3.6 yards per play on the plays Penn State didn’t gift them. That is domination. But that is also why the play the game. This Penn State teams beats this BC team 5 out of 5 times. Much like the year as a whole, the game was a massive disappointment.
The Nittany Turkey says
What? You’re disappointed because your boys made a few mistakes? Blame it on Donovan and you’ll feel better.
Reading your lugubrious comments, one would think PSU lost the fucking game!
Furthermore, BC is not a “drastically inferior” team. They can hang in there with the best of them, beating USC and coming within three points of beating FSU. They are pretty similar to Penn State in that they have a serviceable defense and an offense that has several weaknesses, having lost a plethora of talent, but they’re probably better coached.
After all, Steve Addazio came from second-tier Florida.
Yeah, the Penn State defense got torched. How can you say it didn’t? You want to somehow segregate and discount plays that “Penn State gifted them”, but they’re part of the game, too. Blown coverage, missed tackles, whatever — it’s part of the game. You make enough mistakes and you lose. Everybody makes mistakes. The fewer mistakes made, the better the team is. Hey, Boychik, by admitting that your boys made mistakes, you’re denigrating their standing as a great defense. Great defenses make fewer mistakes.
Once again, like the big crocodiles, you’re in de Nile. No, the PSU defense isn’t as good as you and a lot of people think they are. The stats are one thing, performance on the field is another. They get one chance to play a game, no matter how many times you play it over for them in your head. What they leave on the field is what they are. They gave up 285 yards on the ground, an average of 6.2 yards per carry. Any way you slice it, that’s a lot, unless you arbitrarily nullify certain plays that didn’t go your way.
No, Penn State didn’t play a perfect game, and they were certainly lucky to pull this one out. They gambled on stopping the run and they lost a few times. Yeah, there were lots of mistakes including PSU’s two requisite turnovers. But give credit where it is due. BC played pretty damn well. In the end, it was their mistake, a little teeny extra point conversion, that cost them the game.
I give Steve Addazio lots of credit for cobbling together this BC offense out of spare parts and freshmen after losing just about all of his skill positions last year. They made few mistakes and they hung onto the ball for over 32 minutes. They played an excellent game.
I’ll also give Hack and Fick a lot of credit. Hack seemed to use the month off wisely to shake off his doldrums and play a decent second half plus overtime. He got better protection from the better rested traffic cones. And Sam Ficken was grinning from ear to ear under that gigantic nose, as he should be. Without his foot, this season would have sucked even worse than 7-6. Certainly, his game tying FG and the game winning PAT will remain in our blue and white brains for life eternal. Amen. (Man, Fick sure deserved to go out in style after that first year of his, replete with death threats and all.)
A little bit of a letdown on defense. So, we found out that they’re not as good as we thought. BFD.
Realism aside, you seem to exist in a fairy tale world in which this team should have been 10-2 and mistakes are magically erased so you can maintain your overblown assessment of their ability. You use stats when it is convenient to prove a point, and you deny stats when something doesn’t go your way. What goes into the record book is what counts, my man, not your hallucinations about what should have been.
Better times are ahead. They’ll be 14-0 next year and they’ll easily win the national championship.
K. John says
You are just bitter because you don’t like the way I view numbers and football in general because I am not a bipedal sheep like most people. You don’t like my methods because I think you are jealous. They have repeatedly proven to be far more accurate than anyone else. It is funny how the slappies here always seem to want to pin me to things I never said. Yourself included. I have never once said they should be 10 and 2 or anything else. I never said the four plays didn’t matter because the score board says otherwise. That is why they play the game. However, compartmentalizing numbers easily proves that Boston College is simply not capable of beating Penn State. Penn State is capable of losing to Boston College however. With few exceptions, big plays are the result of mistakes by the opposing team. I do not give credit for the team that benefits from a mistake because no credit is due. They did nothing to deserve praise.
And yes, this game and season were disappointments. Boston College played as good as they are capable given their talent. For a variety of reasons Penn State has played well under its talent level all season losing five games to far less talented teams and let teams like Rutgers, Indiana and Boston College hang around when they had no business being in the game in the fourth quarter. Four mistakes were the difference between an OT win and a blowout. No one should be satisfied with that. No one should be satisfied with a 7 and 6 record when you have the best defense and quarterback in the conference. Number two in both regards is Michigan State and they aren’t close on either front but they are a better team overall. And yeah, even after the NCAA went full retard on Penn State, I knew there would be a slight drop off but I also knew they would keep winning because the talent level was far higher than most thought and Penn State recruits a higher caliber player character wise than just about everyone. They did fairly well but still underperformed the last two seasons. Crucify me for saying it all you want but you know I am right.
Could you please define a “slappie”? I would like to know what this endearing descriptor means.
And no, I don’t think you are right.
The Nittany Turkey says
I’m happy with the result. I think PSU did as well as they possibly could have done — hell, probably a lot better than by all rights they should have.
Hell, no, I’m not bitter or jealous. About what? I’m merely amused. It is great to have you commenting here. Life would be dull without you, K. John!
The problems of PSU and BC were similar with respect to some crappy recruiting, but the Eagles had no sanctions to drive people away, just incompetent administration by regimes prior to Stevie Boy. Addazio really impressed me with his ability to put a team on the field. Without his superb efforts, this could have been a 3-9 year for BC.
He and his team deserve plenty of credit. They’ll get it, but not from you. After all, you’re a wolf and the rest of us are sheep.
It is true that most of us people, better known as bipedal sheep, don’t see football and numbers your way. Thank God! We’d have a bunch of raving lunatics running around spinning fantasy tales of how a 44-0 loss was really a victory for the losing team. One of those is enough, already! (I know. A little hyperbole there. I’ll stipulate to you never having said that a 44-0 loss was actually a victory.)
“Compartmentalizing numbers easily proves that Boston College is simply not capable of beating Penn State.” What the hell does that mean? My coffee is streaming out my nose.
By your definition, both teams made mistakes that gave away big plays, right? That means no one deserves any praise, right? Is that why you’re disappointed in Penn State? Because they make mistakes, just like all football teams? And they made a helluva lot of them this season, many of which you externalized away, but unless you’re really smoking some good weed, you know you were just making excuses when you did.
I think I have you figured out. You’re just playing the devil’s advocate to crank me up, right? I do think your act is pretty funny. Surely, your overinflated impression of Penn State’s 2014 team is just meant to be humorous, right? I can’t believe otherwise, because I don’t want to Baker Act you.
Don’t put words into my mouth. I know you’re not right. With all those absolutes you spout, how could you possibly be right? In fact, I don’t believe you’re right by a country mile, but I’m sure as hell not going to crucify you for your beliefs. I might challenge some of your wisdom, but in the end, your faith in PSU is admirable. Everybody has a right to unchallenged religious faith, as long as they don’t try to shove it down my throat.
I’m not always right, and I appreciate our differences. If we all agreed on everything, life would be dull indeed. You have a forum here to expound at will. Many slappies appreciate your fine work.
What the hell is a slappy, anyway? Whoever they are, maybe they want to pin you down regarding things you could have said because you’re all over the map much of the time!
Happy New Year, K. John!
The Nittany Turkey says
Now that cuts like a knife. I guess that characterization is retaliation for my “Sanguinarian” and “homey” quasi-slurs. Well, sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me. Nyah nana nyah na.
Massive disappointment? WTF! If someone would have said that that this team would have had 3 winning seasons and finish that period with a 22-15 record that included a bowl win after Emmert left the podium on Monday, July 23, 2012, I would have said they had just finished their second bowl of crack. Your “massive disappointment” indicates that you really never grasped what this team went through during this period and what it took to get the results they achieved with what they had to work with nor do you ever give the other team credit for figuring out how to beat PS.
Mistakes? Yeah there were mistakes aplenty on both sides of the ball, but I give BC credit for being able to get the results on the ground and yes in the air against the vaunted PS defense that they did, but I also give the coaching staff some props for putting together a solid game plan and using the “15 extra practices” to produce some tangible improvements with the offense, especially on the O-line.
You can’t simply cut out four plays from a game and say well if it weren’t for those we completely dominated BC. That’s not how it works. I also seem to remember Tyler Murphy picking up some nice yardage with his feet and completing a couple of nice throws to keep them in the game. According to your performance methodology analysis, shouldn’t you have removed them as well. Shit cut those out and you would have made us look like Alabama!
You can call BC inferior if you wish, but in reality you then must call PS inferior because the two teams were about as evenly matched on the field as any two teams in the NCAA. And in your 5 game sample the results would probably be more like 2-2-1.
There was notable improvement in the line and even after a shaky period when Dieffenbach left the game, they were still able to create a pocket for Hackenberg and provide some holes for a semblance of a running game.
Even with BC mostly rushing four or five on most downs, Hackenberg was able to exploit their pass defense and began to actually look like his old self. Some of those throws were pretty sweet! Shit even Kyle Carter looked his old self (I’ve since removed the “stone hands” moniker I gave him at the end of the season). Godwin, Lewis and Hamilton had solid games and Donavon’s play calling was the best it’s been all year. Yeah he missed a couple of wide open receivers, but so did Ben Roethlisberger last night against the Bengals.
How can you be disappointed when you have a 6 play, 63 yard TD drive in 2:12 at the end of the second quarter, a 6 play, 55 yard TD drive in 1:44 in the 3rd period, an 8 play 49 yard drive for the game-tying FG with 20 seconds left in the fourth and a score or lose 17 yard TD pass on third and fifteen in OT to give Ficken the opportunity to kick the winning PAT! C’mon man! Sure they had some chances earlier but coughed those up due to fumbles and penalties. That shit happens and coulda, shoulda, woulda don’t win games. They could have thrown in the towel but instead produced the drives listed above because they never quit. I think O’Brien would have called these guys “fucker’s too!
No, there should be no disappointment in this game. This was probably their best effort of the season, considering the paucity of talent, level of youth and inexperience, five traffic cones on the line, guys that were still not 100% physically ready to play and a coaching staff still feeling their way along like a blind man who left his cane home.
Yeah there will be struggles next year, but if anything, I came away from the game thinking we’re going to be okay and this game will be a springboard for next season. Oh and maybe this coaching staff does know what the hell they’re doing.
So go ahead and give me more of your subjective analysis about why this team should be playing in the Rose or Sugar Bowl this week because (enter failed logic here) and continue to ignore what they’ve actually had to work with on the field this year.
The Nittany Turkey says
“Performance methodology analysis” — I love it! LOLOLOL. “Shit cut those out and you would have made us look like Alabama!”
You’re in fine form today, Jozef!
I’m over this game, having written my comments to K. John. But you had to bring up the Steelers.
Ben had the shits last night against the Bungles, so his bad throws, particularly those two that were batted in his face, don’t count. We get to erase them because he wouldn’t ordinarily be concentrating on keeping his anal sphincter slammed shut. Absent diarrhea, the Steelers actually won that game 70-13. You just don’t see it. Mistakes get to be erased.
How about that punt return by Antonio Brown? My god, talk about perfection. That guy is the shits (keeping it in theme)! And that one pass reception when he knocked down Martavis Wilson on the way to the end zone? I have a big man-crush on Antonio Brown.
I just hope that LeVeon Bell’s knee is healthy for the hated Ravens on Saturday.
Big Al says
This was a great win for State. BC isn’t a great team, but they are the best team State’s beaten this year. And the Kitties showed real determination coming back from a 14 point deficit with a period and a half to play. (Waiting until the middle of the 3rd period to get their asses in gear seems to be a new and questionable tradition for the offense).
However, I don’t think this win is the turning point for our “return to greatness.” , For starters, Franklin and Donovan finally decided to run an offense that utilized their players'(i.e. Hack’s) talents instead of running the coaches’ system. Will they stick with the hurry up passing scheme next season or will they try to impose their power running scheme on players that won’t have enough experience (even if their new recruits have enough talent) to make a power running scheme work. I just can’t see Hack executing the quarterback zone read play effectively. Plus, BC’s cornerbacks gave State’s receivers a pretty big cushion and that opened up the passing game. The better B1G teams are going to press the receivers and they’re going to have to learn how to get separation.
Secondly, the game showed that State does NOT have a dominating, top ten defense. They overachieved this year and their statistics were helped by playing a bunch of one dimensional offenses. The defense will be burned whenever it plays somebody who has legitimate dual threat quarterback with two talented receivers. (i.e. Oregon would score 50+ on them) . Re K John’s comments, there will ALWAYS be 3 or 4 “mistakes” in a game. Penn State moved the safeties up and “packed the box” to stop BC’s running game. This was a high risk strategy (and it worked for the most part) but it results in big gains whenever you don’t hit the running back within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage.
The Nittany Turkey says
I agree with the points made in your opening paragraph. BC’s not a great team but they’re the best team PSU has beaten this year. The comeback was sweet, but why does it take them so long to get their motor started?
The win might not be a turning point, but it leaves us with a good warm feeling going into the football hibernation period and it provided some lasting memories akin to the 2006 Orange Bowl about which we can continue to feel warm about for a long time. Who woulda thought that these guys could even play in a bowl game of any kind, even the Toilet Bowl, let alone WIN one, given the sanctions and recruiting disasters?
Yeah, I agree that the defense has been overrated all year. Shutting down UMass and holding the deficient offenses of the Big Ten doesn’t make them great. Put them on the field against a halfway decent offense, and their weaknesses become apparent. BC exposed them for what they are: good, but not great.