Penn State Football News
Penn State Quarterback Hackenberg Selected Big Ten Freshman of the Year
True Freshman Broke 10 Penn State Freshman Passing Records; Second Consecutive Nittany Lion To Earn Honor
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., December 3, 2013 -- Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg (Palmyra, Va.) has been named the Big Ten Conference’s Thompson-Randel El Freshman of the Year, giving the Nittany Lions consecutive winners of the honor.
Hackenberg was selected Big Ten Freshman of the Week five times this season, including each of the past two weeks, the second-highest total for a player since the award began in 2010. Penn State defensive end Deion Barnes (Philadelphia) was the conference’s 2012 Freshman of the Year. They join tailback Curtis Enis (1995) as Nittany Lions to be selected the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, which is named for Darrell Thompson (Minnesota) and Antwaan Randel El (Indiana).
Hackenberg joins three players from Coach Bill O’Brien’s squad who were named first-team All-Big Ten on Monday, as well as nine Penn State players who received honorable-mention all-conference honors. Hackenberg, junior Allen Robinson, the two-time Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year, and seven of the nine honorable-mention selections return for the 2014 campaign.
Another difficult road trip faces Nittany Lions in season finale
The road has not been kind to the Nittany Lions this season, with losses each time they played a true road game this season. The Syracuse game was a neutral field game so it doesn’t count as a true road game. Perhaps someone should get this weekend's game moved to Lambeau Field where the Green Bay Packers play. That way it would be a neutral field and well, never mind. That isn't happening and Penn State will once again take its show on the road, this time to Madison, Wis. to face the No. 14 ranked Badgers on Saturday.
The Badgers (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) are very tough at Camp Randall and have not lost there this season. Their losses came in the span of three weeks in September with the first coming at Arizona State (32-30) in their third game. Two weeks later in Columbus, the Buckeyes handed them their only conference loss, 31-24. Since that time, Wisconsin has been rolling along winning games by no less than ten points (BYU) and as many as 48 (Indiana).
Penn State will again need its offense to do something that has plagued the team all season and that is convert third downs and sustain drives. The Nittany Lions are near the bottom of the Big Ten in third-down conversions and struggled last week, converting only 2 of 14 third downs. With Wisconsin's ground and pound running game, the defense will need to spend as much time on the sideline as possible, or they will wear down the already thin Penn State defensive front. The Badgers are averaging nearly 300 yards per game on the ground which ranks them in the top fifteen in the nation.
Nittany Lion senior class adds their name to list of reasons to be thankful
Penn State fans were afforded the opportunity to bid a fond farewell to Coach Bill O'Brien's second class of seniors last Saturday on a cold and snowy day at Beaver Stadium. For the last time as a member of the Penn State football team, seventeen players ran down the tunnel and onto the field in front of what is easily one of the best crowds in college football. While the game didn’t end in a manner that is deserving of this group of players, the players will still have plenty to look back on once the season wraps up this Saturday in Wisconsin.
The seventeen players (three players are choosing to forego their remaining season) should, like last year's senior class, be honored for their commitment to the program as well as the university. They have demonstrated a level of perseverance that should renew the pride that comes from being a Penn State fan. This class may not have its name added along with the National Champions or even the 2012 team, but they should not be forgotten for what their choice to remain Nittany Lions has and will continue to mean to the school as they rebuild this storied program.
Of those leaving, thirteen of them, while perhaps not starters, made significant contributions on either side of the ball. It bears the age-old question that every college coach faces each season with the loss of seniors from the team and that is "How do you replace them?" In speaking just for this group of kids and it would be naïve to not include Allen Robinson in that group, that answer is pretty simple. You don’t replace them.
A Look at the 2014 Penn State Football Schedule
While the 2013 season hasn’t ended yet, it’s never too early to look ahead to Penn State’s 2014 football schedule, especially if you are lucky enough to be making the trip to Dublin, Ireland for the Croke Park Classic. For the rest of the world that will be watching the game between Central Florida and Penn State next Aug. 30, the matchup will serve as an incredible start to what could be a great season for the Nittany Lions.
The game in Ireland, for good reason, is the talk of the schedule next season. The Lions will get a chance to avenge this season’s loss to the Knights and that will provide a much needed kick start to the season. The game will start at 8:30 a.m. here in Happy Valley. That will be pretty awesome. Irish coffee at kickoff is never a bad thing.
Penn State will return to Happy Valley for a game on Sept. 6 against the Akron Zips to the thrill of the home crowd. The Zips lost 31-7 to the Nittany Lions in their last matchup in 2009 in a game played at Beaver Stadium. A member of the Mid-Atlantic Conference, the Zips typically serve as a good primer for the Lions.
Sept. 13 has the Nittany Lions on the road for their earliest conference opener as they visit one of the two newest members of the Big Ten, Rutgers. Penn State holds a 22-2 advantage in the all-time series and with Rutgers struggling in the past few years, the Nittany Lions should pick up a conference win providing the road doesn’t prove to be as rough in 2014 as it has this year.
The Road Has Not Been Smooth For Nittany Lions In 2013
As the season winds down and the fourth quarter starts, I thought it would be interesting to see how the teams are doing that have handed the Nittany Lions a loss this season. As bad as it feels to have four losses in those ten games, considering the youth of this Penn State team, it could be worse. It can always be worse.
The Nittany Lions suffered their first loss of the season to a Central Florida team that they will face again next season in Ireland. Unfortunately, that means they may have to face off against Blake Bortles again. The junior quarterback had his way with the Penn State secondary en route to a 34-31 win at Beaver Stadium. The Knights currently stand at 8-1 with their only loss coming a week after beating the Lions when they lost to No.12 South Carolina at home, 28-25. Since then, they went on the road and defeated then undefeated No.8 ranked Louisville, 38-35. Central Florida sits atop the newly formed American Athletic Conference and should finish the season with an 11-1 record and a conference title. Not a bad loss considering what they have shown to be.
The next loss came on Oct. 5 and no surprise, it came on the road at Indiana. Of the four losses the Nittany Lions have this season, this is the one that feels the worst in my opinion. Despite all the lost scholarships and whatnot, Penn State still has a better team than what showed up in Bloomington. The players know it. The coaches know it. And now you know it. The Nittany Lion defense again struggled with a pass happy quarterback and a potent offense. The Hoosiers record of 4-5 (2-3 Big Ten) speaks more to their defensive struggles than their offensive prowess. The offense ranks in the top twelve in the nation in both passing (12th with 327 yards per game) and points scored (10th with 43.1 per game). Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld has completed 62 percent of his passes on the season for 2,182 yards while tossing 19 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. However, on that day against Penn State, he was made to look like Joe Montana. Meanwhile, the Lions offense again struggled on the road like a Ferrari fueled with diesel. The Hoosiers will likely finish the season 5-7 with road games at Wisconsin and Ohio State before closing the season with in-state rival Purdue. A bad loss no matter how you slice it.
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