LSU: Game Breakdown

The good, the bad and the muddy from Penn State's Capital One Bowl victory over LSU at a sloppy Citrus Bowl Stadium Friday.

ORLANDO -- No. 13 Penn State rallied to beat No. 12 LSU 19-17 here Friday, in a game that is likely to be remembered as much for its terrible playing conditions as it will be for any single performance from a particular player.

That's not to knock a guy like Nittany Lion quarterback Daryll Clark, who marvelously navigated his team through the rainy, muddy conditions. He was great.

It is just that the grass playing surface at Citrus Bowl Stadium -- which had already been chewed up by two other bowl games and the state high school championships -- had to be one of the worst in the modern history of the game.

A driving rain earlier in the day coupled with poor drainage made a mess of the field before the players even warmed up. Then it was abused even more during warmups. Then BOTH bands played on it in the pregame and then there was a show featuring nearly 400 young cheerleaders.

In the first half, huge chunks of turf were dug up everywhere. Incredibly, the grounds crew did nothing about it during the game, leaving ball boys from both teams to try to replace divots during breaks in the action.

After a halftime show that featured three marching bands and any number of other activities, the grounds crew took to the field with squeegees, which only resulted in the water being pushed from one hole to the next.

Fortunately, nobody was injured due to the playing conditions. And with that in mind, it made for some fun -- if sloppy -- football. By the end of the game, players from both squads were covered in mud.

But only the Lions left the battle-scarred field with smiles on their faces. Here is why.

MAN OF THE HOUR: Clark had some issues with the wet, muddy ball. But he finished 18 of 35 for 216 yards and a score and rushed for 20 more yards. He also engineered the game-winning drive. Great way for a class act to wrap his career.

CLOSE SECOND: Lion linebacker Navorro Bowman had a game-high 11 tackles and drew a key personal foul penalty on LSU's final drive. The junior is considering declaring for the 2010 NFL Draft. If he does, this was a good way to go out.

CLOSE THIRD: PSU tight end Andrew Quarless had a game-high eight catches for 88 yards.

TURNING POINT: Down 17-16 with 6:54 remaining in the game and starting a drive at their own 31, the Lions got to quick clutch plays. One was a pass from Clark to Derek Moye that was incomplete but drew an interference penalty on Patrick Peterson. The next was an 11-yard dart to Curtis Drake. With momentum, it was clear something special might happen. It did, as the two plays sparked a 12-play, 65-yard march that ended with Collin Wagner's game-winning 21-yard field goal.

SOLID STRATEGY: The Lion coaches putting the fate of this game in Clark's capable hands.

NUMBERS GAME: Penn State had 21 first downs to LSU's 9. … The Tigers gained 41 rushing yards on 25 carries. … The Lions held a 38:21-21:39 edge in time of possession.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: Outside of Wagner, Penn State's special teams were awful -- again. That was one reason LSU was able to hang close even though the Lions appeared to be dominating statistically. This is a very troubling trend.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Sure, his longest field goal was only 26 yards. But Wagner was 4-4. On this day, that was as good as nailing a couple of 50-yarders.

WHAT'S UP WITH?

• The special teams. The Tigers tipped Jeremy Boone's first punt. Then, the Lions were so concerned with keeping the ball away from ace return man Trindon Holliday that they were consistently giving LSU field position near midfield. Penn State's net yards per punt was 24.4 and net yards per kickoff was 25.7.

• The Pac-10 officials. Embarrassing for them that they lost track of down and distance at one point and had to go to replay to set things straight.

• The stadium grounds crew not having a tarp on the field during very heavy rain hours before the game and then not attempting to due any patch work during the first or second halves.

HIT SQUAD: Boone had one of his worst days as a punter with only one of seven kicks downed inside the 20. But he made a touchdown-saving tackle of the incredibly fast Holliday in the fourth quarter.

HIDDEN HEROS: Penn State's offensive line played its best game of the year. Clark was only sacked once, and that was on a play where he was called for intentional grounding.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Penn State committed two penalties in the game. LSU committed 10.

DID YOU NOTICE?

• Penn State equipment manager Brad Caldwell was out on the field two hours before kickoff, gauging what kind of spikes to have the Lions wear. During the game, he took to the field to help repair the divots.

Stephon Morris replaced D'Anton Lynn at cornerback and finished with five solo tackles and a sack.

• DeOn'tae Pannell and Johnnie Troutman platooned at left guard and did a nice job.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: Will Bowman and running back Evan Royster stay or go?


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