From wheels up to wheels down, the Nittany Lions flew in style, with the comfort of some top-notch accommodations leading the way.
📢 Now boarding for LAX... pic.twitter.com/TXdnJuKoGS-- Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) December 26, 2016
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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With Penn State's fourth Rose Bowl appearance less than two weeks away, it's only fitting to take a look back at the three times in program history the Nittany Lions have traveled to Pasadena, California for the "Granddaddy of Them All."
We've spanned several decades in parts one and two, rewinding to Penn State's first bowl game following the 1922 season before arriving at one of the most memorable seasons in Nittany Lion football history - the undefeated 1994 squad.
In Penn State's most recent Rose Bowl appearance, the 2008 Nittany Lions met USC on New Year's Day, 2009 on the heels of an 11-win season that featured the program's third Big Ten title.
The fabric of the 2008 team consisted of another explosive offense, guided by first-year starting quarterback Daryll Clark. The Nittany Lions closed out the regular season averaging more than 40 points per game, with nine 30-point scoring performances along the way.
Penn State rolled through its non-conference slate, out-scoring opponents 211-40, rising from a pre-season No. 22 ranking and rising to No. 6 after opening the Big Ten Conference slate with a 38-24 win over Illinois. Penn State knocked off its next three conference opponents with ease, winning at Purdue (20-6), at Wisconsin (48-7) and against Michigan (46-17) on Homecoming to stretch its winning streak to nine games, including the 2007 Alamo Bowl victory over Texas A&M.
Penn State put its winning streak on the line the next week, though, heading to No. 9 Ohio State for a primetime showdown in Columbus. The No. 3 Nittany Lions pulled off a stunning fourth-quarter comeback, scoring 10 points in the final frame, as senior safety Mark Rubin's forced fumble set up the game-winning touchdown to help boost Penn State to a hard-fought 13-6 victory.
In the next game, the Nittany Lions saw a 23-14 fourth quarter lead become a heart-breaking night loss at Iowa, as the Hawkeyes stormed back and converted a 31-yard field goal with :01 remaining to claim a 24-23 win.
The Nittany Lions quickly rebounded from their first loss, topping Indiana 34-7 before heading into the regular season finale focused on the opportunity to beat Michigan State and capture the Big Ten Championship.
Leading just 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, Penn State's offense got into its rhythm, rolling to a 49-18 victory, totaling 557 yards along the way, including 419 through the air.
Clark was sensational for the Nittany Lions in the Spartan victory, as the first team All-Big Ten quarterback threw for a career-high 341 yards and four touchdowns. Penn State averaged 8.4 yards per play in the win, as Clark hit Derrick Williams for a 32-yard touchdown pass and Deon Butler for a 70-yard touchdown grab, finishing with 21.3 yards per completion.
In possession of their third Big Ten title under Coach Joe Paterno, the Nittany Lions clinched an berth in the Bowl Championship Series, earning a spot in the 95th Rose Bowl game.
Winners in their last three bowl game appearances, the sixth-ranked Nittany Lions were paired up with the No. 5 Trojans, who entered the match-up seeking their third consecutive Rose Bowl victory.
Clark ran for a nine-yard touchdown late in the first quarter to tie the score, 7-7, but the Nittany Lions may have played their worst half of the season against the Trojans. Penn State committed nine penalties for 72 yards against USC, including 62 yard in the first half alone. Uncharacteristic turnovers and penalties took their toll as the Trojans entered the locker room leading 31-7 at the half.
Despite a scoreless third quarter, the Nittany Lions did not go down without a fight, as All-American Williams grabbed a two-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter to bring Penn State within, 31-14. Jordan Norwood added a nine-yard touchdown catch in the final frame following a Nittany Lion field goal, but the 17-point fourth quarter was not enough to overcome USC's lead. Penn State fell in a 38-24 decision in front of a crowd of 93,293 in the Rose Bowl.
Penn State finished with 410 yards, marking the most by a USC opponent all season. The Nittany Lions were also the first team to tally more than 20 points against USC's top-ranked scoring defense, which was allowing a mere 7.8 points per game entering the contest.
Clark finished with 273 passing yards to re-write Penn State bowl game record, setting another school bowl mark with 290 yards of total offense. He went 21-for-36 with two touchdowns and two interceptions against the Trojans.
In less than two weeks, Penn State and USC will meet again in the 103rd Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual. On January 2, 2017 the Trojans will become Penn State's most common bowl opponent, as the teams prepare to square off in "The Granddaddy of Them All," for the third time and in postseason play for the fourth time in their storied, rich histories.
By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Like many college basketball players, Teniya Page was introduced to the sport at a young age. She picked up a basketball when she was in kindergarten, and immediately began working on her skills.
"I started off with a lot of drills around kindergarten," Page said. "I wasn't allowed to play organized basketball until about fourth and fifth grade because my dad thought starting when I was five or six years old would take the fun away immediately."
But unlike other college players, her inspiration to start playing didn't come from watching any of the greats play; it came from watching "Love and Basketball".
"[Teniya] was probably about eight and in the fourth grade and 'Love and Basketball' was my wife's favorite movie so she constantly watched it," said Page's father, Demon. "Maybe the main character kind of stuck with her, so that was when she entertained the idea of playing basketball."
From the start, Page was playing against boys in her hometown of Chicago, and it's where she first got a taste of the speed she was going to need to play down the line.
"I used to play in a bunch of park leagues at home and they were mostly all boys leagues," Page said. "It was challenging at first and I wasn't fast enough so I basically relied on footwork and stuff like that to score. And then once I settled in, I was pretty good at it, especially playing against the boys."
She continued to play with the guys through middle school, and credits those years with making her a faster and better player.
Now in her sophomore season at Penn State, Page is coming off a dominant freshman campaign in which she broke into the top-10 of numerous Lady Lion freshman records and received various accolades.
She's ranked number one on the Penn State freshmen all-time leaderboard in minutes per game with 37.6, fourth in three-point percentage (.409) and fifth in scoring average (15.3). At the end of season, she was selected Second Team All-Big Ten by the coaches, Honorable Mention All-Big Ten by the media, and was a unanimous pick for the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.
This year, Page has picked up right where she left off. She leads the team with 19.8 points per game and total points with 237 - almost 100 points more than second-ranked Lindsey Spann.
"She's very passionate about her knowledge, her basketball IQ, getting better, improving, and I think you see such a big jump from her high school to her freshman year to now her sophomore year and how much better she's become, how much better she makes the players around her," said assistant coach Tamika Jeter.
Basketball wasn't the only sport that attracted Page's attention. She played softball too, and initially liked it more.
"I like softball a lot more than basketball in the beginning," Page said. "But then I realized, not that I would be better at basketball, but that I didn't really like the outdoors like that, especially when it came to having to hit in the fall when it was really cold, so that's kind of why I ended up sticking with basketball."
She played softball for about three years and by the time she was in her early teens she shifted her focus to just basketball. That was when she got serious about one day playing collegiate hoops.
When Page first started high school, she wasn't highly recruited. The first time she went to USA Basketball trials in 2013 was a reality check for her; having thought she was one of the better players, she quickly saw that she had a long way to go.
"No one really knew who I was from Team USA the first time I went," Page said. "It was a big shock for me because, here I had thought I was kind of good and then when I went there it showed me that I really wasn't anywhere near the rest of the girls that were playing."
The second time she went to trials in 2014, a lot more people recognized her because of her time with her AAU team, Midwest Elite. That was when her recruitment really picked up.
Her first Big Ten offer came from Michigan State, but it was a call from Lady Lion head coach Coquese Washington that changed everything for Page.
"We had seen [Coach Washington] just from watching basketball on TV, the way she carried herself on the sideline and her demeanor, that was the thing for us," Demon Page said. "And she did it a little bit different from the way everyone else recruited Teniya because it was just really between her and Teniya."
"I'll never forget, we had just left a game, we were in the car and Coquese called and first she asked if it was okay to recruit Teniya and then she asked Teniya if she would have a problem with her recruiting her. Everybody else, the assistant coach would call you and you'd talk to the assistants before you actually talk to the head coach."
When she took her unofficial visit to Penn State, Page loved everything about the school, program and campus.
Since arriving in 2015, Page hasn't seen her game changed too drastically, but her relationship with the coaching staff has grown stronger, and she says that has helped her to become a better all-around player.
With the Lady Lions sitting at 10-2 on the season, Page has already earned three Big Ten Player of the Week honors and recorded two 30-point games. But she isn't interesting in any personal praise she receives.
"I don't really think about personal goals at all," Page said. "I've always been a team player since the beginning. Even if I didn't score and we win, I'd still be proud and happy with the team. So I'm not really an individual goals person anyway."
Despite her dislike of personal honors and achievements, the Lady Lions will continue to rely on Page's hot shooting moving forward. After the holiday break, Penn State will open Big Ten play against Indiana at the Bryce Jordan Center on Wednesday, Dec. 28.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The holiday season has arrived and here at GoPSUSports.com we'd like to wish all of our Nittany Lion fans Happy Holidays.
The Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual is drawing closer each day and the Penn State Football team is excited to greet fans for a post-New Year's Day celebration for the 103rd Rose Bowl Game.
The Nittany Lion football student-athletes and staff are taking some time to be with family and friends, having practiced Monday and Tuesday before heading into the break. The staff and team will reconnect in Happy Valley just after the Christmas holiday before the travel party boards the plane Monday to travel to Pasadena, California.
Happy Holidays to all of our Nittany Lion fans, we can't wait to see you all next week!
By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just a little more than a year ago,
Penn State true freshman punter Blake Gillikin was busy leading his high school
football team to its first state championship since 1978.
In December 2015, Gillikin helped guide Westminster high school to comeback victory against Blessed Trinity in overtime in the Georgia High School Association's Class AAA championship game at the Georgia Dome.
Staring in nearly every kicking role in the state championship game, Gillikin converted on three field goals, including a 53-yarder, logged three punts of at least 58 yards with two sailing for 62 and 65 yards and placed six kickoffs in the end zone for touchbacks.
Gillikin had already been committed to Penn State for five months prior to winning the state championship.
Penn State wasn't the automatic choice for Gillikin though, who hadn't even really considered Happy Valley until the Nittany Lion staff reached out to him.
"I always watched Penn State on TV, there's fantastic tradition," Gillikin said. "The jerseys, they are iconic, whenever you turn on the TV you see that blue stripe on the white helmet and it just reminds you of something bigger."
With his sights on something bigger, it was the entire university that drew the attention of the promising prospect, who ranked as high as second nationally in the South Region.
"Living in SEC country, I didn't really want to stay down south at all, so it was pretty much the perfect fit for me," Gillikin said.
Tradition and academic reputation weren't the only pieces of Penn State that sold Gillikin on his decision, as the electric Nittany Lion coaching staff was also a part of the process.
"It's definitely the energy that they bring every single day," Gillikin said. "Whether it's recruiting, on the field, off the field, especially coach Huff and coach Franklin who I interact with the most."
Perhaps one of the biggest pieces of Gillikin's decision to attend Penn State though, meant separating from his very first teammate, twin brother Tyler for the first time.
For Blake and Tyler though, it's actually something the two of them wanted. While Blake chose Penn State, Tyler was headed to Northwestern to join the Wildcats as a long snapper.
"It's been hard being away from him because we've always kind of been attached at the hip," Gillikin said with a smile.
Come Oct. 7, 2017 though, Blake and Tyler will meet for the first time ever on opposite teams, when the Nittany Lions travel to Northwestern for a Big Ten matchup at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois.
"I'm really looking forward to that," Gillikin said, especially since we've always had that connection on the court and on the field every since we were growing up."
"My parents being student-athletes in college kind of pushed me to try to figure out how I could be the same way and I guess kicking is just the path that is the clearest for me"
It was a final trip to a Nittany Lion satellite camp in Atlanta that clinched the final decision for Gillikin.
"Having my mom being supportive at that point was a big deal to me, because my dad had really been the only one to visit," Gillikin said."
Drawing from parents Taryn and Walt, the student-athlete lifestyle is something Blake had always planned on, and their support in his decision meant everything.
"My parents being student-athletes in college kind of pushed me to try to figure out how I could be the same way and I guess kicking is just the path that is the clearest for me," Gillikin said.
Gillikin's parents both swam competitively in college, his mother on the team at Kansas and his father a member of the team at the University of North Carolina.
"Family is a really big part of my life, I only have two grandparents and two parents, I have one uncle and that's about it," Gillikin said. "I have a small family but I love them so much, they've been a huge part of my life so far."
In the summer of 2016, Gillikin was headed to Penn State for preseason camp, where he would immediately enter in to a tough competition for a starting role on the roster.
"Coming in, coach Huff told me off the bat that it was a competition, no one had won the job before they got here and coming in, Danny Pasquariello and Chris Gulla are great punters and I was just looking forward to coming out to camp and showing what I could do," Gillikin said.
A competitor at heart, Gillikin welcomed the challenge and got right work, making the most of his Nittany Lion debut and working toward his ultimate goal to earn the starting job in the season opener against Kent State.
Come September 3rd, it was Gillikin who had emerged with the starting job, gliding through the tunnel at Beaver Stadium on to the field prior to his very first opportunity as a Nittany Lion.
"It was the first drive," Gillikin said with a laugh. "I was praying that we were going to get a first down and it didn't happen so I was standing there shaking on the sideline, if I'm going to be honest. It was pretty nerve wracking. I had played in the state championship game, a big game, high stakes, but this was Kent State, obviously the first game of the season at home and I shouldn't have been that nervous, but I was trying prove myself."
Gillikin didn't exactly think he hit it that well, but when he looked up and saw his first collegiate boot spiraling high through the air, he thought it might turn out okay.
The 49-yard punt sailed to the Kent State 18-yard line only to be waived off for fair catch, greeted by the deafening roar of a cheering crowd in the stands at Beaver Stadium.
"Building off of that, I don't think I had the best game of my life, but I think starting out well kind of set the standard for me for the rest of the year, especially knowing what I could do on that first punt when I was literally shaking standing on the field, it kind of gave me more confidence as the season went on," Gillikin said.
In his collegiate debut, Gillikin averaged 47.0 yards per punt, which placed him fourth among freshmen in Penn State history and first among true freshman.
Just one piece of Penn State's significantly improved special teams unit, it didn't take long for Gillikin to build consistency, as he has continued flipping field position for the Nittany Lions on each impressive occasion. Just the third true freshman punter in program history since 1946, Gillikin is averaging 42.1 yards per punt, good for third in the conference standings.
He followed his Kent State debut with a career-long 69-yard punt at Pitt, which ranks second all-time among the longest punts by a Nittany Lion freshman - just one of 10 punts he has booted this year measuring at least 50 yards.
When asked about the key to his calm demeanor, Gillikin is quick to direct all credit for his seemingly seasoned confidence to long snapper Tyler Yazujian.
"Yaz has been a key component in my confidence because just knowing the ball is always going to be there - we had that one mishap against Ohio State, but I wouldn't really blame that on him because the conditions were pretty tough," Gillikin said.
For Gillikin, the steadiness from the veteran fifth-year senior has made all the difference in not just his performance on the field, but in the entire transition from high school to the collegiate game.
"He was my roommate in camp, he is my roommate on every road trip, every home game, he has just helped calm me down when I've been high or low, like every true freshman is," Gillikin said.
The road hasn't been perfect, but Gillikin has handled the ups and downs of his true freshman season without panic, dazzling fans with his spot-on placement and eye-opening hang time, with just a few challenging situations along the way.
First there was Ohio State, where an errant snap sent Gillikin scrambling to the end zone with the Buckeyes barreling toward him before falling on the ball for the safety.
"There were a lot of things going through my mind as you could imagine," Gillikin said. "Thankfully the guy who was running behind me didn't get there before I did but I was praying that I wasn't about to get smacked when I fell on the ball," Gillikin said.
For special teams coordinator and running backs coach Charles Huff, Gillikin's decision making resulted in a pivotal play for the Nittany Lions, who engineered one of the most impressive comebacks of the season, knocking off the Buckeyes in front of a Penn State White Out crowd of more than 107,000.
"if you think back on it, Ohio State missed an extra point," Huff said. "So then we give up the safety, but the safety only counts as one point at that time. The hidden yardage or the hidden parts of the game, a lot of people don't see that. Now if you give up a touchdown, that's five points, that's totally different."
For Huff, Gillikin's unique ability to be still in the moment, is exactly what the Nittany Lions have been searching for in the process of re-energizing the special teams culture.
"What happens is, you take a bad play and you don't let it become a catastrophe," Huff said.
With a season-high seven punts, Gillikin placed three inside the 20 against the Buckeyes as well as one inside the 10. On the year, Gillikin is sending nearly 40 percent of his punts inside the 20-yardline with 21 on the year.
Gillkin found himself in a similar situation just a few weeks later, as a mishandled snap in the first quarter at Indiana sent him chasing the ball once again.
"There were two things that were going to happen," Gillikin said. "I thought I'm either going to pick it up and get this punt off, or I'm about to get clobbered."
So Gillikin picked up the ball, and staring down a pair of Indiana defensive linemen darting full speed ahead, he took a few steps under the immense pressure and got the punt off. Officially ruled a 22-yard punt, Gillikin forced the Hoosiers to the 40 yard line for one of 18 fair catches this season.
By the time the Big Ten Championship arrived, Gillikin was just as fresh as ever, on the heels of another consistent performance which featured two punts downed inside the Michigan State 20-yard line and one at the Spartan 2-yard line in Penn State's Big Ten East Division clinching victory.
"The Big Ten Championship was probably the calmest I've been all year just because there weren't any conditions, which was a big factor but it was really the confidence that I could keep doing what I've been doing in practice and in games," Gillikin said.
With the Rose Bowl Game drawing closer each day, there's not even a hint of anxiety in the mind of the ESPN.com True Freshman All-American, who also garnered honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades not more than a month a half ago.
"I can't do any of that without the other guys on the punt team, if I can't get the ball off without Yaz or the guys protecting me, none of that ever happens, so with team success comes individual recognition," Gillikin said.
Rather, he can be found preparing like he always does, with his teammates by his side."I couldn't be successful without the other two guys Danny Pasquariello and Gulla," Gillikin said. "they kind of took me under their wing this summer and this season. I had a few bad games but they were always there supporting me, especially Yaz, he has been a steady rock to me all season."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's basketball closed out its nonconference schedule with a statement, rolling to a 96-55 win against Morgan State Wednesday evening at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Totaling at least 90 points for the second consecutive game for the first time since the 1995-96 season, the Nittany Lions dominated the Bears from the opening minutes until the final buzzer.
"It was great to see our guys so dialed in and so focused on trying to play 40 minutes of Penn State basketball and I'll give the entire team credit for that and the captains," Chambers said.
Penn State owned a 49-32 advantage on the boards, logging a season-high 49 rebounds led by 10 from Carr, who also finished with 11 points for his first career double-double.
Carr was just one of six Nittany Lions to finish with double figures, with Lamar Stevens leading the way with his second career 20-point game. Payton Banks added 11 points while Mike Watkins, Shep Garner and Julian Moore all scored 10 apiece, marking the first time Penn State has seen six in double digits since January 2015.
Averaging 12 seconds per possession in the opening frame, Penn State moved the ball in transition with ease, scoring 23 fast break points to just seven from the Bears in the first half.
The Nittany Lions finished with 27 fast break points, while also totaling 23 assists to mark the fourth time this season Penn State has dished out at least 20 assists. Carr led the way, dishing out eight assists to narrowly miss a triple double.
"We have a lot of playmakers out there, Shep [Garner], Tony [Carr], obviously Tony had eight, Josh Reaves had six, Terrence [Samuel] is getting involved with that and our bigs are really good passers and Lamar [Stevens] is a willing passer," Chambers said. "You have a lot of guys with a pretty good IQ who are giving up good for great which is terrific."
It didn't take long for the Nittany Lions to channel their momentum from Saturday's win against St. John's. A mere 30 seconds into the game, Reaves came up with a steal before finishing in with a bucket to spark the early run, opened up by a pair of free throws from Stevens.
In addition to six assists, the steal was just the first of four from Reaves on the night. Since earning a spot in the starting lineup against Pitt after an injury, Reaves has been a key contributor for the Nittany Lions elevating the energy level since making the initial start.
For the Nittany Lions though, the renewed energy has become a total team effort and the key to sustaining momentum for a full 40 minutes.
"We've really been practicing that, and emphasizing that in practice," Stevens said. "Just brining energy within ourselves on the bench, and on the court huddling and keeping each other engaged."
Penn State's bench was also among the highlights from the win, contributing a season-high 39 points to aid the outstanding offensive showing.
A Chambers mentioned Monday, he was expecting a bit more from redshirt juniors Banks, Moore and Samuel. Together, the trio delivered, combining for 30 points, including a 6-for-6 showing from the free throw line and three triples from Banks. Moore highlighted the group with a season-high 10 points for his first double figure scoring outing of the season. He also grabbed seven boards and blocked two shots in the second half.
"Julian [Moore] played great for us today and hopefully that will springboard him going into the Big Ten because we're going to need him," Chambers said.
Penn State will now turn its focus toward a challenging Big Ten conference slate, which begins in just six days. The Nittany Lions will open the 2016-17 Big Ten at home for just the second time in eight years welcoming Northwestern Tuesday, Dec. 27 at the Bryce Jordan Center.
"Northwestern is a heck of a team and no one is really talking about them which I'm really surprised about," Chambers said. "They have some really quality wins on their schedule, I think they are one of the better teams in our league this year and I'm going to give Chris [Collins] a lot of credit for that, but we will find out on the 27th."More from Stevens and Carr below.
By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With Penn State's fourth Rose Bowl appearance less than two weeks away, this is the second look back at the three previous times in program history the Nittany Lions have traveled to Pasadena for the "Granddaddy of Them All."
In part one, we went back to Penn State's first bowl game appearance following the 1922 season, where Penn State and USC met in the current Rose Bowl Stadium for the first time in their storied histories.
Part two of Penn State's Rose Bowl rewind flashes forward to 1994, the Nittany Lions' first undefeated season as a member of the Big Ten Conference in only their second year in the league. In becoming the first Big Ten team ever to post a 12-0 record, the Nittany Lions were the first league team since Ohio State in 1968 to register an unblemished slate.
Signature to the 1994 team that defeated Oregon in the 1995 Rose Bowl Game, though, was one of the most potent and explosive offenses in NCAA, Big Ten and program history.
Penn State captured its first of four Big Ten titles during a remarkable 1994 season, setting a plethora of school and Big Ten records along the way. Five Nittany Lions earned first-team All-America honors: running back Ki-Jana Carter, tight end Kyle Brady, wide receiver Bobby Engram, guard Jeff Hartings and quarterback Kerry Collins, who earned the Maxwell and Davey O'Brien awards. Engram also won the inaugural Biletnikoff Award, presented the nation's top wide receiver. The five Nittany Lion All-Americans marked the most since six were selected from the 1978 squad.
The list of team and individual honors, awards, records and accomplishments could go on and on though, as summarizing such a successful season would be no simple task.
To be exact, a total of 14 program records were set by the 1994 team, while 19 were set by individually by the Nittany Lions. Averaging a record 48.1 points per game, Penn State led the nation in total offense at 520.2 yards per game and scoring offense with a 47.8 ppg average that ranked as the fourth-highest in NCAA history at the time. Penn State's 1994 squad remains the highest scoring in the last 100 years of the Big Ten Conference (all games) and at 48.1 ppg in conference games, the highest scoring ever in Big Ten games only.
The Nittany Lions racked up eight convincing wins to start the season, opening the year with a dominant 56-3 win at Minnesota and a 38-14 showing against USC before taking down No. 5 Michigan on the road, 31-24, to move to No. 1 in the rankings, followed by a 63-14 trouncing of Ohio State on Homecoming. The Nittany Lions inexplicably fell to No. 2 following the smashing of the Buckeyes, after No. 3 Nebraska beat No. 2 Colorado and the Huskers moved into the top spot in the AP poll.
The Nittany Lions' fifth undefeated season under Coach Joe Paterno was not without a couple of "close" calls. The week after the win over No. 21 Ohio State, Penn State comfortably led Indiana, 35-14, late in the game and the vast majority of the starters were on the sidelines as the Hoosiers scored twice, including a "Hail Mary" pass on the final play of the game to make the final score, 35-29. The day after the win at Indiana, the Coaches poll also dropped Penn State to No. 2 despite its 8-0 record and an offense that had scored at least 55 points in half its games thus far.
Penn State's ninth win came by way of one of the most memorable comebacks in program history, as the Nittany Lions rallied from behind by more than 20 points to clinch its first Big Ten Championship.
The deciding conference outing placed Penn State's prolific offense against an Illinois defense that entered the matchup ranked fourth nationally in total defense, allowing its opponents a mere 11.3 points per game. The Illini capitalized on two early Penn State turnovers to score two touchdowns and grab a 14-0 lead. Illinois added another touchdown to go up 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The Nittany Lions came storming back in the second quarter, moving the ball 99 yards in 11 plays, culminating in their first touchdown. Penn State followed with another touchdown to close the gap to 21-14, but Illinois answered to send the Nittany Lions into the locker room trailing, 28-14, at the half.
Penn State came out of the intermission with a touchdown on the first drive of the second half, but the Illini answered yet again, this time only with a field goal to pull ahead 31-21. Following a missed field goal attempt, the Nittany Lion defense held off Illinois as Penn State responded with a 17-yard pass from Collins to Engram on fourth-and-1 to give way to an eventual five-yard touchdown run to make it 31-28 Illini with less than eight minutes to play.
From there, it's the number 96 that floods the minds of the passionate Nittany Lion fans. On the next drive, Collins led the Nittany Lions 96 yards down the drizzly field, going 7-for-7 for 60 yards before the Nittany Lions scored the game winner on a two-yard run by Brian Milne with 57 seconds on the clock. Kim Herring's end zone interception sealed the win and with one of the most memorable comebacks in program history and two more regular season conference wins over Northwestern and Michigan State, Penn State was headed to its first Rose Bowl in 72 years.
Penn State's 38-20 Rose Bowl victory against Pac-10 Champion Oregon mirrored the impressive nature of the historical regular season. With the Nittany Lions making their first appearance since 1923, the Ducks, who had won the Pac-10, were making their first appearance in the "The Granddaddy of Them All" since 1958.
Penn State raced to an early lead with an 83-yard touchdown run by Carter on the Nittany Lions' first play from scrimmage. Although Penn State entered the locker room leading Oregon 14-7 at the half, a costly Nittany Lion turnover allowed the Ducks to convert a deficit into a 14-14 tie near the end of the third quarter. On the kickoff, it was Ambrose Fletcher who re-energized the Penn State offense, racing 72 yards on the kickoff return, which stands as the longest in program bowl history. Carter followed with a 17-yard run to put Penn State back on top, 21-14.
The Nittany Lions capitalized on an Oregon interception, as Carter scored from three yards out for his third touchdown of the game. Penn State never looked back, cruising to the win with Carter finishing with 156 yards on 21 carries with three touchdowns to earn Co-Most Valuable Player honors with Oregon quarterback Danny O'Neil. Carter's 83-yard run also marked the longest in a Penn State bowl game and the third longest in Rose Bowl history at the time. Having already scored on 80-yard runs two other times earlier in the season, Carter still remains the only Nittany Lion in program history to produce three 80-yard touchdown runs in a single season. Carter was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 2014.
In the 1995 NFL Draft, Carter, Brady and Collins were among the first nine selections, at the time standing as just the third time a single school has had three top 10 choices since the draft began in 1970. Carter was the first overall selection by the Cincinnati Bengals, Collins was the No. 5 pick (Carolina) and Brady was No. 9 (New York Jets).
The 1994 season was before the advent of the Bowl Championship Series, so the nation's No. 1 (Nebraska) and No. 2 (Penn State) teams did not have an opportunity to meet in the post-season to decide the national champion. Although the Nittany Lions finished No. 2 in the AP and Coaches' polls following the 1995 Rose Bowl, they were No. 1 in the final New York Times computer rankings and Sagarin rankings.
The incredible, undefeated 1994 season is one that is cemented in the history and legacy of Penn State Football forever.
By Jeff Sattora, GoPSUsports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Penn State Lady Lions started off hot Tuesday, and used that early momentum to set the tone for the night, holding off the Iona Gaels, 80-67, inside the Bryce Jordan Center.
Paced from two deep buckets by Amari Carter, Penn State hit five 3-pointers in the first quarter, including five of their first six on the night, to jump out to a 25-16 lead after one.
"We feel pretty confident in our ability to make outside shots," head coach Coquese Washington said on her team's hot start from deep. "When we're open, we take them. I think especially when you knock a couple down in transition it's a big momentum boost for the team and sometimes it can be deflating for the defense."
"It can definitely give us the momentum we need to start off the game," Lindsey Spann added on the outside shooting. "We've been focusing on trying to get great starts and kind of dominate from the start of the game. Having starts like that will definitely help us in the long run."
The Lady Lions extended the lead in the second, as a 9-2 run to start the quarter kept Penn State's momentum going and gave the them a 34-18 lead. The home team kept that double-digit lead heading into the break, as Penn State took a 44-30 advantage into halftime led by guard Lindsey Spann, who scored 11 of her team-high 16 points before the break.
"I'm just trying to hit the gaps and find the open spots, running wide in transition, getting out and getting easy buckets." Spann said on the keys to her success. "My teammates found me."
"I thought she shot the ball well and she shot the ball with a lot of confidence," Washington added on her junior guard. "She's a kid who's been in a lot of battles. When she starts hitting shots and gets on a role she plays with a lot of confidence."
Spann wasn't only Lady Lion who played well in the first half, as Kaliyah Mitchell and Teniya Page added seven points apiece and De'Janae Boykin chipped in with six points and six rebounds in the first 20 minutes.
The Lady Lions shot over 50 percent from the field and from 3-point land in the first half, and that hot shooting continued in the start of the second half, as Penn State hit their first three buckets from the field of the third to take a 49-34 lead.
Despite the hot shooting early, Iona didn't go away. The Gaels went on a 13-0 run to cut a 17-point deficit to 52-48 before a Spann layup ended the run with 2:09 to go in the quarter.
That bucket got the Lady Lion's offense back on track, and back-to-back
three-point plays by Sierra Moore gave Penn State an 8-0 run of their own and a
60-48 lead at the end of the third.
"I thought the third quarter Sierra Moore really stepped up, in particular on the defensive end," Washington said. "She some big rebounds for us, she got a couple and-ones, got out in transition. She was a little bit of a difference there."
Penn State continued its' strong play in the fourth quarter, as they kept a double-digit for the final 10 minutes of play to take home an 80-67 win and improve to 10-2 on the year.
Along with Spann's team-high 16 points, three other Lady Lions finished the night in double figures. Boykin added career-highs in points and rebounds with 12 and nine respectively, while Mitchell and Page each added 11 points.
Washington will look to keep her team focused over break, but is ready for the team to get away for the holidays before Big Ten play starts.
"We need the break. It's been a long semester academically, and it's been a long semester for us in terms for travel and games," Washington said. "This break is coming at the right time, and hopefully they can go home and rest and refresh and get ready for Big Ten play."
The Lady Lions will begin conference play following just over a week off, as the team won't be back on the court until December 28th when they host Indiana at the Bryce Jordan Center.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's basketball is set to wrap up its 2016-17 nonconference slate at home, welcoming Morgan State in a mid-week matchup Wednesday evening at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Monday morning, Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers met with members of the media less than 24 hours after the Nittany Lions' dominant 92-76 win against St. John's in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden.
"We definitely took a step," Chambers said. "I know everyone is going to talk about the 13 made threes, but I thought our defense was really good. I thought we defended and rebounded and that really helped the 35-5 run. We were getting stops and making shots. It's definitely there. You saw a high level team, it's definitely in us."
Penn State's 13 3-pointers are certainly not to be missed, as the Nittany Lions put up the most since logging 13 against NJIT in 2008. Penn State shot 57 percent from behind the arc as Shep Garner and Payton Banks led the way with at least five triples apiece, led by six from Garner.
Garner drained a pair of treys to spark the 35-5 scoring streak that carried the Nittany Lions into the half leading 52-29, marking the highest scoring opening half for Penn State since scoring 62 in the first half against VMI in 2006.
As Chambers noted, first halves have not been exactly a highlight for the Nittany Lions this season, but with the stress of final exam week lifted and a chance to step on to the court at the world's most famous arena, Penn State put together perhaps its best first half of the season.
"That 20 minutes was the 20 minutes that we've all been waiting for," Chambers said. "We've all been hoping and expecting it to come through and it still might not be there on a daily basis but at least we say what it looks like and man it's a lot of fun."
Although the first half slumps are a little baffling to Chambers this season, he was certainly pleased with the turnaround he saw Sunday morning at Madison Square Garden. His early thoughts on the improvements though, all come down to juice, energy and the "old school Penn State basketball" he has been emphasizing throughout the last few weeks.
Part of Sunday's energy, included a spark from Nittany Lion freshman Tony Carr, who logged 13 points for his first back-to-back double figure scoring outing since opening the season with seven consecutive outings with double digits.
"He brought energy, he brought juice, he went for a dunk," Chambers said. "Which I think the whole bench erupted because that's really not his style but he knew what the team needed, the team needed some energy and some fire."
Josh Reaves also noticed an increase in the patience and timing from the rookie point guard, who matched a career-high mark with six assists in the win against St. John's.
"Tony has an ability to play at his own pace, it can be fast, it can be slow, he can do whatever, and that definitely got us going," Reaves said. "I think he had six assists or something and he just waits, he waits for the right opportunity and he takes advantage of it."
Carr isn't the only source of the renewed energy for the Nittany Lions, who put together one of their best offensive performances of the season.
"We have a lot more in us, we have a lot more energy, a lot more confidence," Reaves said. "The bench was crazy, everything on the court was crazy. We were doing everything we needed to do and it wasn't perfect but it was definitely a big step for us."
Stemming from his earlier media session last week, Chambers noted that the team practiced really well in the three sessions leading up to the St. John's game.
"Old school practices, we went back to early October-type practices," Chambers said. "Short, hard, intense and very tough."
Although pleased to see the Nittany Lions play well, Chambers also stressed that he'll still need to see the momentum carry over into Wednesday's matchup, especially with Big Ten play on the horizon.
"We need to continue to learn how to play Penn State basketball and to learn how to remain competitive and consistent throughout the 40 minutes," Chambers said.
Off The Bench
Penn State's bench contributed 21 points in the win against St. John's marking the third time this season the Nittany Lion bench has scored at least 20 points, and the first since the win against Georgia Tech. Although Chambers was pleased with the bench effort in Sunday's win, but he's still like to see more production, especially among the the likes of the redshirt junior trio featuring Payton Banks, Julian Moore and Terrence Samuel.
Payton Banks led the group with 17 points, including his five triples, shooting 5-for-9 from behind the arc.
"He came off the bench he shot the ball really well, he guarded really well, he's starting to rebound now," Chambers said.
Chambers also highlighted how pleased he was in the performance from "old school Terrence," who put together a solid showing in 21 minutes on the court.
"He played tough, physical basketball - diving, charges, hard fouls, man that was fun to watch," Chambers said.
Those "attitude plays," from Samuel are what starts to build momentum for the Nittany Lions, noted Garner.
"Charges, dives, stuff like that gets us going and gets the bench really into the game," Garner said. "Terrence does it a lot so we look for him to do things like that and that's another spark that he can give us. When attitude plays like that happen, we get going from things like that, we hit more shots and get more stops. Stuff like that starts runs for us."
A Quick Look at Morgan State
Penn State and Morgan State are set for the sixth all-time meeting come Wednesday night. The Nittany Lions own a 5-0 record in the all-time series against the Bears, squaring off for the first time since the 2014-15 season opener.
Morgan State enters the matchup at 3-7 on the year, coming off of a 68-66 loss to Wagner last week under the direction of 11th year head coach Todd Bozeman.
Leading scorer Tiwian Kendley is averaging 22.9 points per game having highlighted the year with a 40-point/10 rebound showing in a double overtime win against Manhattan earlier this season. Phillip Carr is atop the MEAC standings with 9.5 rebounds per game, having grabbed 13 rebounds twice this season. Carr is also second on the team in scoring, averaging 17.1 points per game.
Catch up with Reaves and Garner as Penn State preps for a 5 p.m. tipoff against Morgan State Wednesday at the Bryce Jordan Center.
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