Quarterback Christian Hackenberg broke some Penn State Bowl game records with his performance that led the Nittany Lions to a 31-30 overtime win over Boston College in the Pinstripe bowl, giving James Franklin the privilege of being the first head coach to lead them to postseason success in the post-Sandusky ban era, showing a lot of promise for years to come.
Penn State aren’t always near the top of the College Football world, but a 6-6 season is far less than anyone is used to from this program, which might be slowly coming out of its long dormant state. Hackenberg threw four touchdown passes, including one that was luckily not intercepted just before half time, caught by Geno Lewis, but his biggest throw came in overtime to Kyle Carter, tying the game before Sam Ficken scored the extra point kick that won the game.
Boston College had this game in their hands on a number of occasions, but defense kept letting them down until it was a kicker that completely blew it. Quarterback Tyler Murphy threw two touchdown passes and ran for another, including 105 yards on 11 carries. Jon Hilliman ran for 145 yards and another touchdown himself. But they kept leaving openings for Hackenberg to take advantage of, resulting in Ficken scoring a field goal from 45 yards to send the game into overtime (24-24), and of course their extra point miss (Mike Knoll) after Murphy threw a touchdown pass in overtime.
Despite the promise and hype, it wasn’t an easy season for Hackenberg, mostly because of his offensive line making it so easy for teams to walk all over them and him. Penn State seem to have picked the right man to lead them back into the upper flights of the Big Ten and maybe later the rest of college football. While these bowl games are often mostly about giving a nice feeling to teams and players at the end of the season, this might be about much more than that for Penn State.