Penn State vs. Temple: Game Breakdown

The good, the bad and the ugly as the Nittany Lions bowled over the Owls to clinch a postseason bid.

Following Penn State's 30-13 win over Temple at Beaver Stadium Saturday, running back Akeel Lynch walked toward linebacker Brandon Bell and pretended he was holding a bowling ball in his hands.

Bell understood.

Lynch proceeded to do his best Pete Weber imitation, rolling the make-believe ball at Bell. Bell waited a second and then fell to the turf, like so many pins crashing on a lane.

Penn State is going bowling, ladies and gentlemen.

The Nittany Lions improved to 6-4 with the victory, and they have reached the requisite number of victories required to advance to the postseason. In September, the NCAA repealed PSU's postseason ban two years before it was slated to end.

Which all means a team that at one point appeared to have no shot of bowling this season will now be doing so.

“It does mean something a little bit more special, the fact that we had 49 seniors that stayed around this program when this university and this community and this football program needed them the most,” Lion coach James Franklin said after the Temple game. “So the fact that we're gonna be able to send them out the right way and continue our season and be able to keep our family together for a month or so after the regular season ends is special. I'm really happy for those guys.”

Lynch, a redshirt sophomore who signed with PSU in February of 2012 and stuck with the program even when NCAA sanctions would have allowed him to transfer without penalty, explained that playing in a bowl will mean a lot to the underclassmen, too.

“We committed knowing we would never have a chance to go to a bowl game because of the sanctions,” he said. “We said it was about more than football. We love Penn State because it's Penn State. Once you go here, you're stuck. You're not leaving, because it's that good.

“Just to have the opportunity to extend the season with these guys … just to have one more game with them is something special,” he added.

Here is how the pins fell in the Nittany Lions' bowl-clinching win over Temple (5-5).

MAN OF THE HOUR

Lynch broke loose for a career-high 130 yards and a score as the PSU ground game continued to find its footing behind an improving offensive line.

CLOSE SECOND

Speaking of which, the O-line in general deserves kudos for playing its best game of the year. For once, it bailed out QB Christian Hackenberg, who was seriously off his game despite not being pressured as much as usual. Besides Lynch's big game, starter Bill Belton rushed for 92 yards and a score.

CLOSE THIRD

LB Mike Hull had 10 more tackles and was just wiping out Owls all over the field.

TURNING POINT

The Lions were up 20-13 early in the fourth quarter when rookie DB Grant Haley intercepted Temple QB P.J. Walker and returned it 30 yards for a score. Hull threw the block that got Haley into the end zone.

SOLID STRATEGY

With Hackenberg struggling and the O-line coming around, PSU ran the ball 47 times (for a season-high 254 yards) and passed just 26 (completing 12 for 112 yards and two picks).

NUMBERS GAME

Penn State had more than twice as many rushing yards as passing yards in a game for the first time since rushing for 239 and passing for 88 in a 20-14 win at Ohio State in 2011.

NUMBERS GAME 2

Temple came into the game with a plus-17 turnover margin but lost the turnover battle in this one, 5-3.

BUSINESS AS USUAL

Penn State's top-ranked rushing defense held Temple to 61 yards on 20 carries.

SPECIAL DELIVERY

K Sam Ficken boomed a 50-yarder just before the half to give the Lions a 6-3 lead. It looked pretty important at the time.

SPECIAL DELIVERY 2

Haley returned three kickoffs for a total of 72 yards, with a long of 31.

WHAT'S UP WITH?

• Ficken, who has been otherwise magnificent, having another kick blocked. He was three of three before a 42-yarder was snuffed late in the fourth quarter.

• Hackenberg's issues. He finally got some time, but seemed out of whack all afternoon. He missed several wide open receivers and his internal clock appeared to be set a little too slow.

• Penn State letting the slippery Walker escape from a handful of seemingly sure sacks. This has been an issue the last two weeks.

HIT SQUAD

Owl TE Colin Thompson attempted to hurdle Bell in the fourth quarter, only to be caught by Hull and body-slammed.

HIDDEN HERO

P Dan Pasquariello continued to show improvement. He had a 49-yard bomb to swing field position at one point. He also pinned two kicks inside the 20.

DID YOU NOTICE?

• LT Donovan Smith was back after missing two games with what was believed to be a concussion.

• LG Miles Dieffenbach entered on PSU's second series and stayed there until the game was out of reach. It was his second game back after missing the first eight outings with a left ACL injury.

Angelo Mangiro started at this third different O-line position. He began the year at C, then filled in at RT when Smith was out (and RT Andrew Nelson took over at LT) and got the nod at LG vs. Temple. As the game went along, however, Mangiro moved to C and then to RG.

• Starting CB Trevor Williams was in street clothes due to an undisclosed injury. True freshman Christian Campbell got the start, making three tackles and picking off a pass.

• Backup WR Matt Zanelatto was out with an undisclosed injury.

UNANSWERED QUESTION

When PSU was hit with NCAA sanctions in July of 2012, when did you think the Lions would play in their next bowl?


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