UCF: The High Five

Wow. It was an old school "bend but don't break" performance that found the Nittany Lions on top as time expired with a 26-24 victory to hand James Franklin his first win as Penn State's coach. See the highs and lows here.

See the highs and lows from Penn State's win over UCF, the first of the James Franklin era.


Sweet Emotion: To start off, it was great to see James Franklin get emotional after the win and showing how much he's invested in the Penn State squad. It may not have been pretty, but a wins a win, particularly given the depth issues PSU is dealing with.

No Quit: Dare I say Penn State showed reflections of their former "bend but don't break" approach? Yet, in the end, the Lions never quit (even when some fans were all but ready to throw in the towel), got some big key plays when they counted and grabbed a tremendous win.

Bailed Out: The Penn State defensive front bailed out the offense time and again, first on a goal-line stand, then on another short field and then with a big sack after the Lion offense got sacked on their final offensive play of the first half. Particular shoutout to Anthony Zettel who set the tone for the front four.

Kick It: Captain Sam Ficken stepped up in a big way to win this dog fight, going four for four on field goals, including the last second game winner, and two for two on extra points. It's a great PSU turnaround story.

Passing Judgement: Sure, he made some mental mistakes, like taking the late sack in the first half and tossing two interceptions, but Christian Hackenberg had a record day going 32 for 47 for a career and program high 454 yards (9.7 YPC) and a touchdown. On top of this he spread the ball around to eight different receivers.

Bonus High

Catching On: Young receivers DaeSean Hamilton and Geno Lewis combined for 19 catches for 338 yards and a touchdown. Both showed strong hands, sharp routes and served as go-to targets in key situations.


On the Clock: Penn State's coaches were slow to get off timeouts and set a quick tempo in the final minutes, wasting significant time off the clock, which could have blown up on them.

Sticking Around: Statistically, PSU dominated the game with 511 yards to UCF's 246. An inability to convert some key drives allowed UCF to not only stick around, but grab the lead with under two minutes left.

Broken Line: The offensive line was a bit bi-polar; they showed a strong propensity to give Hackenberg time to throw, but also missed key assignments throughout the game and struggled to open lanes for the run game, which gained only 57 yards on 28 carries. The line will have to get their run blocking together in short order.

Playing Games: With a third and goal opportunity the staff opted to take the ball out of Hackenberg's hands opting for a Zack Zwinak wildcat formation that ended up with a loss of yards. While the play itself is a questionable one, the timing of it in this situation was downright baffling.

Disconnected Call: The (ACC) referee crew had some head-scratching calls which started on the first play with an unsportsmanlike 15-yard penalty on the kickoff, which seemed to be the result of a player being excited to finally get into the season. On top of this we had a phantom personal foul call late in the second quarter, keeping UCF's drive alive and an offensive pass interference call where the Knight defender appeared to fall against Chris Godwin. This game may have fans longing for Big Ten officials...I kid, I kid.


See What?: This may actually be high for Penn State, but what on Earth did UCF coach George O'Leary see in redshirt freshman QB Pete DiNovo over sophomore Justin Holman? Holman stepped in in the second half and made it a game giving the PSU defense fits at times whereas DiNovo was no threat in the pocket. Odd.


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