It ended up being a bowl game which saw too little, too late from Penn State. And while the Nittany Lions were largely manhandled in nearly every aspect of the game, they managed to mount a comeback that at least made the fourth quarter somewhat exciting for fans of the Blue & White.
Here's a look at the highs and lows from PSU's 24-17 TaxSlayer Bowl loss to Georgia.
The Love Five
SLEEP-WALKING: While it was nice to see Penn State wake up in the fourth quarter to make a comeback, it was too little, too late. The PSU team looked to be sleep-walking through the game and largely appeared unprepared.
GO WIDE: The offensive coaches insistance on slow-developing runs that were wide, wide, wide and relied on sustained blocking from the offensive line allowed Georgia's defensive front to pounce consistently and shut down Saquon Barkley time and again. He ended up with only 69 yards on 17 carries (4.1 YPC). Plus, with Christian Hackenberg knocked out of the game, did it make any sense to start running Trace McSorely out of the gate?
OFFENSIVE PLAY: If there is one area James Franklin and his staff have to figure out heading into the 2016 season, it's the offensive line. While the ground game playcalling didn't help, the line continued to struggle to open up lanes. With the passing game, the unit moved the pocket at times, but on the whole PSU's QBs were forced to find open field to escape the pressure most of the day.
MENTAL CASE: You'd figure by the 13th game of the season a team would have its mental mistakes in the rearview mirror. But that was certainly not the case for Penn State, which had a performance hindered by key false start, offside and holding calls. And there are no excuses for the unsportmanlike calls.
TICK TOCK: Clock management has seemingly been a nemisis for the PSU staff this season. Again the Lions mismanaged the playclock at times forcing timeouts. On top of this, on it's final drive , the Lions' "hurry up" looked like one of their staple delay plays, bleeding off vital seconds. Another example of poor preparation for this team, which is a bit surprising given the focus on the hurry up in practices.
The High Five
DIG DAWG: The defensive unit on the whole certainly had it's fair share of hiccups in the game, giving up some key third-and-longs to Georgia. But when the chips were down it managed to give the Nittany Lion offense one last shot to tie things up. It was an inconsistent effort overall, but nice to see the D dig in at the end.
NO QUIT: As we've said, PSU's effort was too little, too late, but the squad deserves some credit for not quitting when trailing significantly late in the game. If the Lions had played with the late effort we saw throughout the game, who knows where the game ends up.
CATCHING ON: Chris Godwin led all receivers with 133 yards on six receptions (22.2 YPC). DaeSean Hamilton and Geno Lewis pulled in 71 and 53 yards in receptions, respectively, and each had a touchdown. The problem was it was too late before the unit really got going.
BACK IT UP: With Hackenberg knocked out with a right shoulder injury, backup McSorley stepped in going 14 for 27 for 142 yards. He started off a bit inconsistent, which is to be expected, but got into a groove, bringing Penn State back into the game.
ON THE ROAD: A nod to the Penn State fans who showed up and worked to give PSU an advantage and seemed to largely stay throughout despite the late, major deficit facing the Lions.null