Hey, Wha Happen? Penn State 23, Syracuse 17

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The true freshman quarterback throws for nearly 300 yards, and the defense controls the game, as Penn State squashes the Orange, 23-17.

Some weeks ago you're a third baseman, playing your last game of hardball for Fork Union, in southern Virginia. Saturday, you're in Met Life Stadium, home of the NFL's Giants and Jets, surrounded by 80,000 mostly blue and white Penn State fans, taking snaps as quarterback of the Nittany Lions.

"It was awesome - everything I thought it would be. I learned a lot of things. It's a little bit faster, and I've got to be smarter with the ball," said Christian Hackenberg, the former third baseman.

Manning the hot corner might not have been bad preparation. Syracuse defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough fired every exotic blitz and coverage in his playbook at Hackenberg, getting to him three times and forcing two interceptions. The Orange also loaded the line of scrimmage, selling out to stop Penn State's ground attack, and daring Hackenberg to beat them with his arm. He did. Hackenberg finished 22 of 31 (71%), for 278 yards and two touchdowns, as Penn State beat the Orange, 23-17.

The kid can sling it. And with BOB coaching him, we don't have to worry about Hackenberg getting a big head. Asked to describe the beauty of the deep ball Hack completed to Geno Lewis for 54 yards and a score, BOB beat down the beat reporter. "Let's not waltz him into the College Football Hall of Fame, here. All he did was throw the ball - he's on scholarship for that."

Yes he is, BOB. There will be more learning, and more interceptions, to be sure. But the future sure looks pretty.

Three Completely Random, Probably Useless Thoughts

1. DaQuan Jones matched his sack, tackle for loss, and total tackle stats from all of last year in the first three quarters against Syracuse. Or maybe it just seemed that way on TV. The big fella was an unblockable monster in the middle, and led an outstanding defensive effort. Syracuse finished with just 260 total yards of offense, and only 71 yards on the ground after rushing for more than 2,000 yards in 2012.

2. Stickin' with Ficken seems like a smart move. Sam finished 3-for-3 on field goals, including a career long 46 yarder that looked like it would have been good from 56. He also buried all of his kickoffs deep into the end zone, forcing four touchbacks.

3. The young corners can play, too, and PSU Defensive Coordinator John Butler knows it. He put Jordan Lucas and Trevor Williams on islands quite a bit, and they more than held their own. Williams tapped a toe on the sideline with the game sealing interception.


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