Welcome to the second half of our simulated Penn State football season. For those with spotty memories, Penn State came out of the non-conference schedule with a solid 3-1 record, their only loss coming at the hands of UCF, who will go on to finish the season at #20 in the country. But now the real fun begins, as we dive into the B1G schedule, along with a possible B1G Championship game, as well as a bowl game. So without further adieu, let's simulate some football.
Week Five: 23-10 Win at Indiana (4-1)
Sam Ficken made his presence known early in this one, drilling a 43 yard field goal to give Penn State the lead after one quarter. In the 2nd, Zwinak found the endzone on a 7 yard run, and Hackenberg found Moseby-Felder for a 27 yard touchdown as well. Indiana hit a 44 yard field goal to get on the board. The 3rd quarter was quiet, aside from a routine 26 yarder from Ficken. In the 4th, Indiana scored on an 8 yard TD pass, to bring themselves within 10. However, Penn State was able to eat some clock, and add a final Ficken field goal (This time from 47 out), to seal the victory.
Hack didn't look very good in this one, throwing for 153 with a touchdown and two interceptions, with only a 34% completion percentage. He added in 21 rushing yards, to go along with Zwinak's 105 on 16 carries with the touchdown. Allen Robinson caught 7 balls for 87 yards, and Breneman added 32 yards on 4 catches. Adrian Amos had the game of his career, racking up 3 interceptions on the day to go along with 5 tackles. Ficken continued his strong start to the season, hitting 3 more field goals.
I sensed that Amos was going to have a big day, so we caught up with him before gametime, to see what he had to say about IU quarterback, Tre Roberson. Amos had this to say, "I have to laugh, because I've outsmarted even myself. MY enemy, my foe, is an animal. In order to conquer the animal, I have to learn to think like an animal. And, whenever possible, to look like one. I've gotta get inside this guy's pelt and crawl around for a few days."
Week Six: 31-14 Loss vs. Michigan (4-2)
This was a tough one for Penn State fans to swallow. Beaver Stadium was rocking, the White House was in full effect, and the team was riding high. The first quarter started with a Devin Gardner touchdown run, to put the Wolverines on the board first. Penn State fought back though, and Hackenberg eventually connected with Zwinak for a 17 yard touchdown toss. The next score didn't come until the 3rd quarter, when Michigan scored on a 30 yard pass play. It was in the 4th quarter where things got out of hand. Michigan struck first with an 80 yard catch and run for a touchdown, to go up by 2 scores. PSU wasn't ready to quit just yet though, as Allen Robinson returned the ensuing kickoff 103 yards to the house. After that however, Michigan hit a 55 yard field goal, and Gardner threw one more touchdown, this time 44 yards, and the Wolverines walked out of the Valley with a big road win.
Hackeneberg again was unimpressive, only completing 8 of 24 passes, for 86 yards and a touchdown, also adding 11 rushing yards. Zwinak, Lynch, and Belton combined for 125 yards on 24 carries. Robinson caught 2 passes for 42 yards, to go along with his kickoff return. Mike Hull and Malcolm Willis were both able to collect interceptions, with Willis also picking up a sack.
We were able to talk to O'Brien after the game, and when we told him we thought it was great how the team fought back at the beginning of the 4th quarter, he replied with, "Thank you very little."
Week Seven: 24-19 Loss at Ohio State (4-3)
Coming off the bye week, the Lions looked to shake off their disappointing showing in front of the hometown crowd in the previous game, and although it came down to the wire, the Buckeyes were able to make it two years in a row of wins over PSU. The game started with a Braxton Miller TD pass, with Hackenberg finding Breneman a few minutes later to answer. The two sides traded field goals in the 2nd, leaving the score tied at 10 going into the break. Penn State came out in the 3rd, taking the lead on a mother Ficken field goal, but Miller threw another touchdown pass to put the Bucks back up. Miller would find one last receiver for a TD in the 4th, before Penn State fought back to a 5 point deficit after the Zwinak touchdown run. The two point conversion, however, was unsuccessful, and Urban Meyer's squad left with the victory.
Hackenberg threw for 208 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions on the day, paired with 20 rushing yards. Zwinak psted 81 rushing yards and a touchdown, and was complimented by Akeel Lynch, who ran for 28 yards on 7 carries. Breneman had 92 yards receiving on 8 catches, and Robinson had 67 on 4 completions. Carson took down 9 tackles, two of them coming for a loss. Anthony Zettel picked up a sack.
Just as the referee was tossing Braxton Miller the game ball, a fan ran on the field, grabbed it, and ascended back into the stands. Braxton exclaimed, "Hey! That kangaroo stole my ball!"
Week Eight: 45-22 Loss vs. Illinois (4-4)
This one hurts. It seems that the back to back losses to Michigan and Ohio State left their mark on this Lions squad, as they came out flat yet again to start a game. Natan Scheelhaase threw 2 first quarter touchdowns to give the Illini the early lead. The 2nd featured another Illini TD paired with a field goal, while Ficken drilled home two 40 yarders of his own. The 2nd half started with Hack finding Breneman for a 17 yard TD, with the 2 point conversion failing. Illinois tacked on 2 more touchdowns to build up the lead. The 4th quarter started with a Ficken field goal, followed by Scheelhaase's 4th touchdown toss of the day, before Breneman found the endzone one more time, at the end of a Ferguson pass.
Hackenberg was ineffective, and seems to be hitting a freshman wall of sorts, completing only 9 of 24 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown, along with 26 rushing yards. Ferguson came in and was a perfect 1 for 1 for 31 yards and a TD, for what I'm pretty sure is an impossible QB Rating of 690.4. Zwinak, Lynch, and Breneman combined for 54 yards rushing, on 15 carries. The aforementioned Breneman finished with 95 receiving yards and the 2 TD's, while Moseby-Felder also picked up 96 receiving yards. Zettel led the team with 9 tackles, and Della Valle recorded an interception.
When Beckman approached O'Brien after the game, he said to him, "I thought you'd be the man to beat this year." O'Brien took one look at him and replied, "I guess you'll just have to keep beating yourself."
Week Nine: 23-16 Win at Minnesota (5-4)
The Lions finally got back on the horse with a win over the Golden Gophers. The 1st quarter was very B1G, featuring just a Ficken field goal. However, once the 2nd quarter rolled around, both offenses exploded. Penn State put up 17 points, thanks to 2 Allen Robinson receiving touchdowns, along with a Ficken field goal. The Gophers kept pace though, with a TD run and a 43 yard pick 6. The 3rd quarter featured only a Minnesota field goal, but it put the Gophers trailing by only 4 points going into the final quarter. With 6 minutes remaining in the game, Ficken hit his 3rd field goal of the game to put the Lions up 7, and they would hold that lead until the clock wound down.
Hackenberg somewhat got back on track in this one, completing 20 of 45 for 224 yards, 2 touchdowns, and the pick 6. Zwinak rushed for 92 yards, with Lynch adding in 56 of his own. A-Rob had 69 yards to go along with his 2 touchdowns, and Breneman had another big game, picking up 115 yards on 8 catches. Barnes and Zettel each picked up sacks, with Barnes totaling 3 tackles for loss overall.
After the game, an NCAA representative approached O'Brien to ask him what he thought of Mark Emmert. When the representative told O'Brien that his boss, "...thought he had a screw loose," O'Brien replied, "Your boss molests collies."
**Yes, for that quote I had to change it a little bit. There's only so much Caddyshack can provide in terms of on-point, perfectly applicable quotes.
Week Ten: 24-6 Win vs. Purdue (6-4)
The Nittany Lions kept the good Minnesota vibes rolling against the Boilermakers. Ficken started the game off the way he has been all season, putting one through the uprights to provide the only score of the 1st quarter. In the 2nd, Hack found Jesse James for a short 1 yard TD, and Purdue put up a field goal of their own with 10 seconds remaining in the half. Zwinak pounded one in from 13 out in the 3rd quarter, to put the Lions up 14. In the 4th, Purdue hit a 51 yard field goal, before Zwinak ran one more in to finish up the scoring.
Another week, another disappointing, but passable performance by Hackenberg. He completed 14 of 30 passes, for 153 yards to go with 1 touchdown and 2 INTs. Zwinak picked up 105 on the ground, while Hack piled up 67 of his own. Six different receivers caught a pass, with Breneman again leading the team in yardage on the day, with 62 yards on 2 catches. The defense came up huge in this one. Kline and DaQuan Jones both picked up a sack each, and Barnes was able to take down the QB 3 times, while also forcing a fumble. Amos and Obeng-Agyapong both picked off passes, as well.
In light of his huge day, we approached Deion Barnes to ask how he was able to cause so much destruction. He replied, "I'm going to give you a little advice. There's a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball."
Week Eleven: 38-24 Loss vs. #1 Nebraska (6-5)
Bet you didn't see that coming. The Cornhuskers would go on the finish the season undefeated, including their 3rd consecutive win over the Nittany Lions. Penn State struck first in this one, with Hack finding A-Rob for the TD, but the Huskers scored 2 unanswered TDs of their own to close out the quarter. Both teams traded field goals in the 2nd to keep it a 2 score game going into halftime. In the 3rd, Amos picked off a pass in his 2nd consecutive game, and this time brought it back to the house for a 52 yard pick 6. Nebraska came back with a TD pass, but Hack found Breneman to close out the quarter and tie up the game. In the 4th however, the defense finally gave, as Nebraska was able to get 2 short touchdown runs to seal the victory, and continue their march to an undefeated regular season.
Hack was 14 for 35, for 212 yards, 2 touchdowns, a pick, and 46 rushing yards in this one. Again, solid (Especially for a freshman), but more could be done. Zwinak added 73 yards on the ground, averaging 5.2 per attempt. Breneman and A-Rob each caught touchdowns, with Robinson also contributing 109 yards overall. Barnes and Zettel each picked up sacks yet again, with DaQuan Jones and Baublitz splitting another. Amos had his interception, and Mike Hull forced a fumble in the losing effort.
After the final whistle, Akeel Lynch gingerly walked to the tunnel, while some blood from a cut received on a goal line play, fell to the field. Craig Fitzgerald, furious about the game's outcome, looked over and screamed at Lynch, "You! Pick up that blood!", and continued to do a shirtless worm back to the locker room.
Week Twelve: 24-3 Loss at Wisconsin (6-6)
The regular season ended in true, disappointing, B1G fashion for the Lions. The first score of the game didn't come until the 2nd quarter, when 10th year senior, Jared Abbrederis reeled in a touchdown pass. In the 3rd, Wisky added on a field goal. It wasn't until the 4th quarter, after another Badger field goal, that Penn State finally got on the board with a Ficken field goal. Wisconsin added one more touchdown before the book closed on the 2013 regular season for the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Hackenberg did little to ease any of the doubters that had been gaining traction throughout the year, completing only 12 of 43 passes, for 189 yards, and 23 rushing yards. Zwinak added 60 rushing yards, while Allen Robinson had 57 receiving yards. Zettel and Barnes continued their sack streaks, picking up 1 apiece, while DaQuan Jones got to the QB once as well. Zettel and Amos led the team with 9 tackles each, as the Lions defense was overmatched on this 30th of November.
Fox Sports covered this game, so when Erin Andrews went talk to Zettel about his sack streak, he looked at her and simply said, "You're rather attractive for a beautiful girl with a great body."
Un-Sanctioned Bowl Game: 13-7 Loss to Texas Tech in the Meineke Car Care Bowl
For whatever reason, the game refuses to let me pull up the game summary and statistics for this thriller, so we'll have to be creative. The 1st quarter went by without much action, save for a Red Raider field goal from 74 yards out. The 2nd quarter included quite the display though. With 10 seconds remaining in the half, TT elected to go for it on 4th down, from 6 yards out of the end zone. The pass was picked off by Amos, who returned it all the way down to the 10. Just as he was about to be tackled by the center with the 4.4 40 yard dash time, he attempted to pitch it back to Trevor Williams. Little did he know, that the TT fullback, was waiting in the pitching lane. He picked off the attempted pitch and returned it down to the PSU 1 yardline, only to be stood up at the goal line by DaQuan Jones, who had assumed the play was over, had jogged into the locker room, looked up at a TV, and sprinted back out to make the stop.
The 3rd quarter featured another freak play. Texas Tech had Hack and the Lions pinned on their own 2 yard line. Hack dropped back to attempt a pass, but ended up drilling the Texas Tech defensive tackle directly in the facemask. The ball deflected back above Hackenberg's head, heading toward the uprights. The TT defensive end quickly climbed up, and caught the ball while standing on the goalpost. The referees conferenced, even giving Ed Hochuli a call for advice. After a 3 and 1/2 hour delay, they determined that the play be counted as 3 points for Texas Tech. O'Brien combusted on the spot with rage, leaving Franco Harris to jump down from the stands and take over head coaching duties.
In the 4th quarter, Texas Tech scored on a 114 yard kick return for a touchdown, in which the returned caught the ball in the first row of seats, and managed to find his way to the endzone. There was a flag on the play for offsides on Penn State, which was of course declined. With 4 minutes to go in the game, Franco decided to put himself in, pulling Zwinak back to the bench. He called 15 consecutive run plays, picking up 3 yards each time, while using Hackeberg as a human shield. They soon found themselves on the 1 yard line with 10 seconds to go. Howle snapped the ball, and A-Rob split out right, wide open. Just as Hack went to throw and hit his favorite receiver, Franco leapt in the air and took the ball out of his hand. Donovan Smith had successfully kicked his defender in the balls, leaving Franco a wide open lane for the touchdown.
The game was called into question by the NCAA, and after an investigation by Louis Freeh, the NCAA handed down the following sanctions as punishment for improper actions on Penn State's part during the bowl game:
- Recruiting Limitations- 5 scholarships per year, can only contact recruits via morse code and telegrams
- Scholarship Roster Limitation- Only 35 scholarship players allowed on the roster, as well as 10 run-ons
- $200 million to be donated to Mark Emmert's trust fund
- 10 years of playing in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, no matter the regular season record
Final Season Statistics of Interest
Christian Hackeberg: 2,361 Passing Yards. 18/12 (TD/INT). 41% Completion Percentage. 454 Rushing Yards.
Zach Zwinak: 1,025 Rushing Yards. 7 TD's. Longest Run on the Season- 18 Yards
Allen Robinson: 59 Receptions. 795 Receiving Yards. 4 TD's
Adam Breneman: 36 Receptions. 497 Receiving Yards. 5 TD's.
Brandon Moseby-Felder: 24 Receptions. 416 Receiving Yards. 4 TD's.
Jesse James: 1 Reception. 1 Yard. 1 Touchdown.
Glenn Carson: 77 Tackles. 4 TFL's.
Deion Barnes: 72 Tackles. 22 TFL's. 8.5 Sacks. 2 FF's.
Adrian Amos: 47 Tackles. 7 INT's. 1 TD.
Anthony Zettel: 45 Tackles. 13 TFL's. 5 Sacks.
Sam Ficken: 16/23 FG's. 69%. Long of 47 Yards. 31/31 PAT's.
Final Review on the Season
So that's pretty much a worst case scenario for the team this season (Unless we lose the Bye Week again). As I said at the beginning, I didn't anticipate this to be very comforting to PSU fans, due to the very low rankings of most of the players. A few guys were still able to make their marks despite poor ratings though, the most notably Deion Barnes and Adam Breneman. Although they were ranked 80 and 79 respectively, they both played out this simulated season as if they were 85's or higher. Zwinak had pretty much the exact season that I am expecting out of him in real life this year, while Hackenberg and Allen Robinson both left a lot to be desired. Then, just to make the season worse, Nebraska won the National Championship, and Braxton Miller won the Heisman.
All in all, I think we can agree that the season will not go this poorly *knock on wood*. I'm sure that O'Brien wouldn't let this happen to his team, but then again, I'm not Bill O'Brien. /Feels chin. Yeah, I'm not Bill O'Brien. So what do I know? Let's just all agree to forget this simulation ever happened, sit back, and start mentally preparing for real life Penn State football. After all, it's only 33 days away.
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