Penn State Upsets Wisconsin in Season Finale
In the final game of the 2013 season, Penn State (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) finished its campaign in a fitting manner: succeeding as underdogs. BCS hopeful Wisconsin (9-3, 6-2 Big Ten) entered heavy favorites, but the Nittany Lions managed to pull off the 31-24 upset, in a daunting Camp Randall Stadium.
Bill O’Brien’s team continued to prove doubters wrong in their gutty performance in Madison.
“They took offense to the fact that they were 24-point underdogs and nobody even in State College thought they could win the game except the kids in that locker room and the coaches in that locker room,” O’Brien said. “Those kids took it personally.”
True-freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg led the Nittany Lions, with one of his best performances of his young career, going 21-for-30 for 339 yards and four touchdowns on the afternoon.
Hackenberg connected with fellow freshman Adam Breneman for a 68-yard touchdown strike on the first drive of the day.
After a four-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Duckworth, Badger quarterback Joel Stave found Brian Wozniak for his second passing touchdown of the quarter, to take a 14-7 lead with under six minutes to go in the half.
Penn State drove down the field with less than two minutes remaining, scoring off a pass to an uncovered Geno Lewis.
Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen attempted to call a timeout when he saw the wide-open Lewis, but the officials didn’t blow the whistle, leading to the Penn State score.
The teams entered the half tied at 14.
In a very quick manner, the Penn State offense erased any momentum the Badgers attempted to build in the second quarter. Jesse James came down with a Hackenberg pass in the corner of the end zone early in the third quarter with two Badger defenders in his face.
Defensive end C.J. Olaniyan continued to quiet the Badger crowd at Camp Randall, after linebacker Brandon Bell knocked the ball out of Stave’s hands into the air, Olaniyan corralled the ball and took it 35 yards to the Wisconsin 19-yard line.
After a 28-yard Sam Ficken field goal, the three-plus touchdown underdog Nittany Lions had a 10-point lead on the top-15 Badgers, on the road.
Hackenberg and Lewis hooked up again to put Penn State ahead by 17, with less than 13 minutes remaining. Defensive coordinator John Butler’s defense denied Wisconsin of a comeback, after the Badgers managed to make it a one score game late in the contest.
Ryan Keiser intercepted a Stave hail-mary attempt in the end zone, to seal the deal for the Nittany Lions and clinch back-to-back winning seasons.
O’Brien and his team for one final time in 2013 embraced the underdog role.
“It doesn’t matter what (the media) thinks,” O’Brien said. “It matters what they think and that’s what I think they understand and they showed that tonight.”
Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Morry Gash)