KSU: Game Breakdown

The good, the bad and the ugly from Penn State's water-logged 34-0 win over the Golden Flashes at Beaver Stadium Saturday.

Penn State sloshed past Kent State at rain-soaked Beaver Stadium Saturday, throwing a 34-0 shutout to improve to 3-1 heading into a bye before Big Ten play begins.

OK, so maybe “throwing” isn't quite the right word to use there. Because for the first extended period all season, the Nittany Lion passing attack -- with freshman sensation Christian Hackenberg at the controls -- was consistently … well … not very good.

Hackenberg was 13 of 36 for 176 yards, and completed just 2 of his 14 second-half attempts.

But it didn't matter as Penn State got stellar efforts from all three of its primary RBs and a great bounce-back performance from the defense, which struggled in a Week Three loss to UCF.

Here is our breakdown of the action.

MAN OF THE HOUR: LB Glenn Carson did what senior leaders do following a tough defeat -- he stepped up his game. Carson had a team-high seven tackles, including two behind the line.

CLOSE SECOND: We'll cop out and go with the three-headed RB monster of Zach Zwinak (15 carries for 65 yards and three TDs), Bill Belton (105 all-purpose yards) and Akeel Lynch (14 carries for a career-high 123 yards).

CLOSE THIRD: K Sam Ficken continued to shine. He hit both of his field-goal attempts, including a career-best 54-yarder. Kind of amazing considering the poor weather. The bomb tied for the fourth-longest boot in PSU history (Chris Bahr made three 55-yarders in the mid-1970s), was the longest PSU field goal since Herb Menhardt's 54-yarder vs. N.C. State in 1979 and was the team's first 50-plus yarder since Kevin Kelly kicked two in 2008.

TURNING POINT: Trailing 14-0 in the third quarter, Kent State gained possession at midfield when CB Dylan Farrington picked off Hackenberg. On the very next snap, PSU S Ryan Keiser intercepted KSU's Colin Reardon. The Flashes went meekly after that. Keiser finished with four tackles, three breakups, a sack and an interception before leaving the game with an unspecified hand injury.

SOLID STRATEGY: After trying to get Hackenberg going until the midway point of the third quarter, the PSU staff finally started heavily feeding its RBs. It should have gone that route sooner.

NUMBERS GAME: KSU had 190 yards of total offense and 56 net yards rushing.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: The Penn State offensive line did another strong job in paving the way for the backs. This unit seems to be improving by the week.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Hackenberg quick-kicked early in the game and the ball rolled dead at the Kent State 7-yard line.

WHAT'S UP WITH?

• Hackenberg locking in on favorite target Allen Robinson almost to the exclusion of the other pass catchers. Robinson is having a great season. But this connection just was not as effective as usual on this day.

• The PSU RBs continuing to struggle with fumbles. Lynch lost one and Belton nearly did (he was ruled down before the ball popped out). Have to work on that ball security.

• The KSU defense being flagged for a block in the back.

• Attendance being listed at 92,371. Obviously that meant tickets sold. We're guessing the actual number of people in the stadium was closer to 75,000. That said, all credit to the hearty souls who braved the nasty weather.

• The guys wearing Speedos (and nothing else) in the front row of the student section.

CREATIVE EXCUSE: Lynch claimed he was caught from behind on a 43-yard run because his pants were too big and they were falling down.

HIDDEN HEROS: Kudos to the Beaver Stadium grounds crew for keeping the field very playable. Ficken said there was no problem at all with the footing on his long field goal.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: After a quiet opening three games, DE Deion Barnes broke out with six tackles, one tackle for loss and half a sack.

DID YOU NOTICE?

• “Sweet Caroline” was re-added to the stadium playlist for the first time since the Sandusky scandal broke. We're of the opinion it never should have been removed. When it returned in the second quarter, the crowd went crazy.

• LB Mike Hull missed his second game in three weeks with a knee injury. He played in last week's loss to UCF but seemed limited. Stephen Obeng-Agyapong replaced him in the starting lineup. O'Brien expected him back for the Big Ten opener at Indiana in two weeks.

• Penn State went with six offensive linemen on certain plays.

• Redshirt freshman DT Austin Johnson made his first career start. He replaced Kyle Baublitz on the first team. Ironically, Johnson did not log a tackle. But Baublitz had three, including a sack.

• Sophomore Trevor Williams was back as a first-team CB after being replaced by Adrian Amos late in the UCF game. But Amos, a starting safety, did get snaps at Williams' corner spot, too. Williams had five tackles and broke up one pass.

• CB Jordan Lucas broke up a team-high four passes. He also had half a sack.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: How well did the non-conference slate prepare Penn State for the looming Big Ten season?


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