As far as the coaches are concerned, teams play to win. Fans may want to see pretty wins when playing against clearly inferior opponents, but sometimes just coming out with a win is good enough. Usually, when you pull out a close win against an overmatched opponent it means one of three things: the better team payed badly, the lesser team played well, or a combination of both. It was the third option on Saturday.
With our two best running backs out with injury, it was up to Christian Hackenberg and the rest of the gang to ensure we didn't suffer another devastating loss before conference season started. Hackenberg did not light up the scoreboard on Saturday, but he did just enough move the offense along, just enough to give the defense some rest against a pesky triple option team, and just enough to avoid the back-breaking mistakes that have cost Penn State so much in past games.
Hackenberg's 52% completion rate, 156 yards, and single touchdown throw on the day won't be found in any highlight reels anytime soon. But his lack of interceptions, his newly attained ability to change the plays at the line of scrimmage, and his continued poise as the sacks kept coming, were just enough to win a game this team could not afford to lose.
Jason Cabinda - On a day where the defense was tested, Cabinda had a monster game with 14 tackles (six solo) and two sacks. This is Cabinda's best performance as a Nittany Lion.