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SPORTS
September 30, 2014 | BY JOHN McGONIGAL, Daily News Staff Writer mcgonij@phillynews.com
STATE COLLEGE - A half-full Beaver Stadium, with less than 2 minutes to go, was silent. As the impressive homecoming crowd of 102,910 whittled down, thousands of noticeably shocked students stuck around until the end. In the front row of the student section, a handful of fans, caked in peeling white and blue paint, spelled out on their stomachs, "We are Penn State. " Some gazed out onto the field without expression. One covered his face with a white Penn State T-shirt as the clock wound down.
SPORTS
September 29, 2014 | By John Stuetz, Inquirer Staff Writer
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Mike Hull made one of his career-high 16 tackles to set the tone on Northwestern's final third-quarter drive - the second straight three-and-out forced by Penn State. So despite several previously missed opportunities, the Nittany Lions trailed by just eight heading into the fourth quarter on Saturday at Beaver Stadium. "Yeah, we were feeling really good about it. We were feeling really confident," Hull said. "And then they get a quick score, and it kind of flips.
SPORTS
September 29, 2014 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - After four games of feeling good about a new head coach, building up some momentum, and generating hope that a bowl bid would soon be possible, Penn State wiped out that optimism in a dismal performance Saturday. A sun-splashed crowd of 102,910 homecoming attendees at Beaver Stadium watched in disbelief as the Northwestern defense completely dominated the overmatched offensive line of the Nittany Lions and handed James Franklin his first loss in Happy Valley, a stunning, 29-6 defeat.
SPORTS
September 28, 2014 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – James Franklin said it's a part of every head coach's routine when watching film of his team's next opponent. "You're trying to find the guy that can wreck the game," the Penn State coach said. The Nittany Lions have that type of player in defensive tackle Austin Johnson, a sturdy 6-foot-4, 313-pound redshirt sophomore who starred at St. Augustine Prep in South Jersey. Johnson could be a major headache for Northwestern in Saturday's Big Ten game at Beaver Stadium.
SPORTS
September 26, 2014 | BY JOHN McGONIGAL, Daily News Staff Writer mcgonij@phillynews.com
STATE COLLEGE - Last season, heralded true freshman Christian Hackenberg started every game under center for the Nittany Lions, enduring the ebb and flow that comes with an 18-year-old calling the shots. Fortunately for the Virginia native, there was experience on offense, like wide receiver Allen Robinson and a senior-heavy offensive line, to guide him. Now, leading one of the youngest teams in major college football, Hackenberg feels like roles have reversed. "Last year, everyone was being patient with me," Hackenberg said.
SPORTS
September 26, 2014 | BY JOHN McGONIGAL, Daily News Staff Writer mcgonij@phillynews.com
STATE COLLEGE - The first thing Penn State coach James Franklin does when evaluating an opponent is to try and find that one guy, that one defensive player who can wreck a game. Be it a defensive lineman, linebacker, cornerback or safety, who can change the complexity of a game? That's going to be quite the challenge for Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald. With a stable of defensive playmakers from the front four to the safeties over the top, the Nittany Lions' defense has turned heads through four games, leading the team to an undefeated mark.
SPORTS
September 26, 2014 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
Penn State coach James Franklin likes to see quarterback Christian Hackenberg use his feet to pick up a few yards when a pass play breaks down. Hackenberg doesn't mind running, and tries to get as many yards as he can. There are times, however, when Hackenberg puts his body at risk trying to make an extra yard or two, and that's when Franklin doesn't like it. "I love it and I hate it," Franklin said. "I love it from a competitive standpoint. That's kind of who I want us to be. But that doesn't make a whole lot of sense for us right now and that's not smart.
SPORTS
September 25, 2014 | BY JOHN McGONIGAL, Daily News Staff Writer mcgonij@phillynews.com
STATE COLLEGE - It wasn't a victory over an elite opponent, but it did put Penn State in special company. The Nittany Lions thrashed Massachusetts, 48-7, at home on Saturday, moving them to 4-0 for the first time since the 2008 season. Penn State is the lone unbeaten squad in the Big Ten East and just one of two undefeated teams in the conference overall, joining Nebraska. On a national scale, the Lions are among 24 sides without a blemish. With 128 teams in the FBS, more than 80 percent of college football can't say the same.
SPORTS
September 25, 2014 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
Penn State has one game left before a week off in its schedule but already is exceeding expectations, with a 4-0 start and a chance before long to become the fifth Big Ten team to climb into the national rankings. After a 48-7 win over Massachusetts, the Nittany Lions finished last weekend still side-by-side with Nebraska as the conference's only two undefeated teams, and just two spots out of the top 25. However, when asked at his weekly teleconference what a 4-0 start meant, coach James Franklin refused to bite.
SPORTS
September 24, 2014 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
Pat Fitzgerald last led his Northwestern football team into Beaver Stadium in 2012, only a few months after the NCAA slapped Penn State with harsh sanctions that could have left the players and coaches in disarray. But Fitzgerald saw the focus of the team firsthand, led by the Nittany Lions' strong senior class and coach Bill O'Brien. The Lions rallied from 11 down with a 22-point fourth quarter and defeated the Wildcats, 39-28, for their fourth straight win after an 0-2 start. Penn State finished the season 8-4. The Wildcats return Saturday to State College to meet an undefeated and happier Penn State team that now can play in the postseason and will get all of its scholarships back next year.
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