5 Thoughts On The Pinstripe Bowl

Recap, 5 Thoughts and what's next for each team in the Pinstripe Bowl

Dec. 27 New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Penn State 31, Boston College 30 OT

And You Care Because … Sam Ficken saved Penn State with a 45-yard field goal late in regulation to force overtime, and his extra point proved to be the difference. Boston College had the ball first in OT and scored on a 21-yard Tyler Murphy pass to David Dudeck, but Mike Knoll missed the extra point. Penn State answered with a ten-yard Kyle Carter touchdown catch to tie it before Ficken’s conversion. The Nittany Lions started out the scoring on a 72-yard Chris Godwin catch, but BC scored the next 21 points highlighted by a 49-yard run from Jon Hilliman and a 40-yard scoring dash from Murphy. But Penn State wouldn’t go away with Christian Hackenberg leading two second have touchdown drives with scoring passes to Geno Lewis and DaeSean Hamilton to tie it at 21, but Knoll hit a 20-yard field goal with just over two minutes to play. There was too much time for Hackenberg, who went 49 yards in eight plays giving Ficken a shot to force overtime.
What Else? Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg completed 34-of-50 passes for 371 yards and four scores
- Boston College QB Tyler Murphy completed 11-of-19 passes for 97 yards and two scores, and ran 11 times for 105 yards and a touchdown. RB Jon Hilliman ran 25 times for 148 yards and a touchdown
- Penn State WR Chris Godwin caught seven passes for 140 yards and a touchdown
- Penalties: Penn State 10-for-60 yards – Boston College 8-for-70 yards
Game Rating: A

By Pete Fiutak
1. After a wild win like this over BC, it’ll be interesting to see just how much James Franklin and Penn State starts to milk a We Believe/Team of Destiny thing.

It’s occasionally going to be an obnoxious offseason of bluster and rhetoric, but to simply keep it to the field when it comes to Penn State football – and not turn the Pinstripe comeback into something that belongs on a bumper sticker – look out, because Franklin is about to parlay the momentum into a potentially massive rebound.

It’s going to take at least another year – probably two – to possibly turn Penn State into a real, live player in the Big Ten conference chase, but with the job Franklin is doing on the recruiting trail, and with the pieces in place to start to become a football superpower again, it’s going to be an interesting ride.

By Rich Cirminiello
2. Now that is a postseason football game that’ll set the standard for every other non-New Year’s pairing this month.

The Pinstripe Bowl was so entertaining that it warranted an extra session in the Bronx. And overtime was every bit as riveting as the first four quarters. It was so entertaining that it makes me want to rethink a long held stance that college football stages far too many pointless bowl games. Alright, that’s getting carried away.

Finally, a game that felt as if it really mattered to everyone involved, from the players and the fans to the broadcasters. Sure, the Pinstripe Bowl got an artificial boost from Penn State’s postseason return, which came earlier than expected. But it was the players, both the Nittany Lions and Boston College’s Eagles, which made this matchup so compelling from start to finish. If a game truly matters, you’ll notice tears flowing from the winners and the losers. And that was exactly the case after Sam Ficken nailed the game-sealing extra point.

Penn State battled as if, well, its NCAA postseason ban was lifted back in September. Boston College battled as if, well, Steve Addazio is the man in charge. Putting the two blue-collar programs in the same building was a stroke of genius that resulted in the most entertaining game so far this bowl season.

E-mail Phil Harrison
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3. Well that was exciting. The Big Ten couldn’t have scripted a better bowl game in New York to try and get those East Coasters hooked on college football. This is what the Big Ten dreamed of when it went and enticed Maryland and Rutgers to partake of brats and beer in the Midwest - a bowl game in Yankee Stadium with the Big Ten logo on the field and throughout the stadium, with the cherry on top coming with a conference team winning it in overtime.

It’s still to be determined whether the big Eastern seaboard population will truly get into college football with the saturation of pro teams in the area, but if it’s going to happen, Penn State has to have a resurgence, and Rutgers and Maryland will need to make a splash while playing these types of games with television sets turned on. Penn State is really an Eastern team living in the Big Ten, so commissioner Jim Delany has to be smiling from ear to ear after this one. Now all head coach James Franklin has to do is go toe-to-toe with the Scarlet Knights and Terps and create some drama in those long-sought after television markets. Much like today’s game.

4. What’s next for Penn State

Christian Hackenberg has to be more consistent, he needs to start to be the overall NFL franchise quarterback everyone thinks he can be, but it’s all there. Can the receivers improve? They might have been strong against Boston College, but the receiving corps has to be better and more explosive. Finding a better running game is a must, too, starting with leading rusher Akeel Lynch, but it’s going to be tough with three starters gone from a mediocre O line.

The defensive line has to undergo an overhaul, and losing linebackers Mike Hull and C.J. Olaniyan hurts, too. However, after Hull, the next six tacklers are back from a phenomenal run defense. The secondary should be the most experienced defensive unit, and the entire group can hit. PK Sam Ficken closed out his career coming through clutch, and now it’ll likely be up to Chris Gulla to take over. The awful punting game has to be better with either Gulla or Daniel Pasquariello.

5. What’s next for Boston College
It’s all about the O line. Boston College lives for the running game, and while Jon Hilliman and all the top backs return, all five starters up front – including star center Andy Gallik – have to be replaced. Not having QB Tyler Murphy around anymore will be a transition, too, with runner Darius Wade likely to get the first look. Finding more weapons for the passing game will also be a must with Shakim Phillips and Josh Bordner gone.

The strong defense should be even better in the linebacking corps despite the loss of Josh Keyes. There’s good depth and a great hitter in Steven Daniels to work around. The secondary loses SS Dominique Williams, but it gets back FS Justin Simmons and CB John Johnson, and it needs help from the line and the pass rush. BC brings the heat from several difference spots, but the top sackers were seniors. Mike Knoll will get the chance to take over the kicking duties from Alex Howell, and that might include the punting, too.

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