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Inside the Pinstripe Bowl Selection - News and Notes

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Pinstripe Bowl_Announcement_BC.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Selected to play in their 45th bowl on Sunday evening, the Nittany Lions (6-6, 2-6) are headed to New York City for a matchup against Boston College (7-5, 4-4) in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 27 at 4:30 p.m. in Yankee Stadium).

10528675 (1).jpegLed by one of the nation's top defenses, Penn State is headed to the postseason under the direction of first-year head coach James Franklin. The Lions will enter the bowl season with a defensive unit ranked No. 1 in the nation in rushing defense (84.8 ypg), No.2 in total defense (269.8 ypg), No. 8 in scoring defense (17.7 ppg) and No. 10 in passing yards allowed (185.0 ypg).

Big Ten Linebacker of the Year Mike Hull headlines a group of 17 seniors deserving of the opportunity to play in the postseason. Hull was tremendous in 2014, tallying 134 tackles (11.2 tpg). Junior defensive tackle Anthony Zettel joined Hull as a member of the All-Big Ten First Team.

Take a look inside some of the news, notes and history following the Pinstripe Bowl announcement.

Coach Franklin's Reaction to the Pinstripe Bowl Announcement
Head coach James Franklin participated in a media call on Sunday night after the Pinstripe Bowl announcement. On the road recruiting, Franklin answered questions from the media for approximately 20 minutes to look ahead to the game. Coach Franklin said that each of the coaches on the staff has Boston College film already downloaded onto their iPads for review as they are on the road recruiting this week. Here are some highlights from Coach Franklin's media call.

On his reaction to the bowl announcement - "I would say it's excitement because I know how important these practices are on a lot of different levels. Obviously to get prepared for Boston College, who is a tough opponent. Also, to continue to get better and as a program. And the amount of work you get with the young guys already has been big. I just think from a program perspective, it is invaluable."

Thoughts on Boston College and head coach Steve Addazio - "I've known Coach Addazio professionally for a long time. Don Brown, the defensive coordinator there, we worked together at the University of Maryland. I think very highly of him. Frank Leonard, their tight ends coach, we worked together at Kansas State. I think highly of Frank. They've done a great job there. Tough, hard-nosed, blue collar. They've been there a couple years now. BC has always had a history of having a hard-nosed, blue-collar team."

On the bowl practice schedule - "Short term, it allows us to keep our family together a little longer to continue this season. Obviously, big picture, moving forward the extra reps are very, very important. We practiced already on Saturday and Sunday. We will practice most of the weekends. We'll also have some practices during the week where it will be coordinator practices. It will be myself and the offensive and defensive and special teams coordinators. The rest of the coaches will be on the road recruiting. The closer we get to game time, we will get into our normal routine."

Thoughts on the opportunity to play in New York - "First of all, how cool is this? You're and 18, 19, 20, 21-year old young man, and you get to spend a week in Ireland and a week in New York City in the same year. Pretty cool. Obviously, being in a region of the country Penn State has strong ties is awesome. I know our Alumni Association is excited about some of the things they are putting together. The state of New York and New York City are very, very important to Penn State, and they always will be."

Matching Up against the Eagles
Penn State and Boston College will collide for the 24th time when they meet in New York. The Lions and Eagles last met on Sept. 11, 2004 in Boston. Penn State leads the all-time series, 19-4. Boston College has won the last three meetings.

Second-year head coach Steve Addazio has orchestrated a superb turnaround for the Boston College program during the past two seasons. After inheriting a team that went 2-10 in 2012, the Eagles went 7-5 and played in the Independence Bowl after a two-year absence from the postseason.

Boston College finished fourth in the ACC's Atlantic Division after finishing 7-5 overall and 4-4 in conference games. The Eagles have wins over UMass, USC, Maine, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Syracuse this season. Boston College's losses include a three-point road setback to No. 3 Florida State (20-17).

Addazio coached against the Nittany Lions twice as head coach of Temple in 2011 (PSU W, 14-10) and 2012 (PSU W, 24-13).

Penn State in Yankee Stadium
The Nittany Lions will be playing in the new Yankee Stadium for the first time. Penn State played three times in old Yankee Stadium, tying West Virginia, 13-13, in 1923 (Photo on left), falling to Georgia Tech, 16-7, in 1925 (Photo on right) and falling to NYU, 7-0, in 1929.

Yankee Stadium.jpgPinstripe Bowl History
Announced as the "Yankee" bowl by New York Yankees then-minority owner Hal Steinbrenner and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg on Sept. 30, 2009, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl is in its fifth season of existence. Beginning with this season, though, the Big Ten will kick off an eight-year agreement with the Pinstripe Bowl. The winner of the game is awarded the George M. Steinbrenner Trophy, while the MVP is awarded the David C. Koch MVP Trophy. The Pinstripe Bowl is one of two bowl games held in the Northeast, with the other being the Military Bowl (Annapolis, Maryland). The 2014 Pinstripe Bowl will air on ESPN at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 27.

Previous Pinstripe Bowls
Dec. 30, 2010 - Syracuse 36, Kansas State 34
Dec. 30, 2011 - Rutgers 27, Iowa State 13
Dec. 29, 2012 - Syracuse 38, West Virginia 14
Dec. 28, 2013 - Notre Dame 29, Rutgers 16

Penn State Bowl History
The Pinstripe Bowl will be Penn State's 45th bowl game. The program's rich bowl history began with the Rose Bowl during the 1922 season. Here is a complete list of Penn State's bowl games.


                               Penn State Bowl Results (27-15-2)

Season

Bowl

Opponent

Score

W/L

1922

Rose

USC

3-14

L

1947

Cotton

SMU

13-13

T

1959

Liberty

Alabama

7-0

W

1960

Liberty

Oregon

14-12

W

1961

Gator

Georgia Tech

30-15

W

1962

Gator

Florida

7-17

L

1967

Gator

Florida State

17-17

T

1968

Orange

Kansas

15-14

W

1969

Orange

Missouri

10-3

W

1971

Cotton

Texas

30-6

W

1972

Sugar

Oklahoma

0-14

L

1973

Orange

LSU

16-9

W

1974

Cotton

Baylor

41-20

W

1975

Sugar

Alabama

6-13

L

1976

Gator

Notre Dame

9-20

L

1977

Fiesta

Arizona State

42-30

W

1978

Sugar

Alabama

7-14

L

1979

Liberty

Tulane

9-6

W

1980

Fiesta

Ohio State

31-19

W

1981

Fiesta

USC

26-10

W

1982

Sugar

Georgia

27-23

W

1983

Aloha

Washington

13-10

W

1985

Orange

Oklahoma

10-25

L

1986

Fiesta

Miami (Fla.)

14-10

W

1987

Citrus

Clemson

10-35

L

1989

Holiday

BYU

50-39

W

1990

Blockbuster

Florida State

17-24

L

1991

Fiesta

Tennessee

42-17

W

1992

Blockbuster

Stanford

3-24

L

1993

Citrus

Tennessee

31-13

W

1994

Rose

Oregon

38-20

W

1995

Outback

Auburn

43-14

W

1996

Fiesta

Texas

38-15

W

1997

Citrus

Florida

6-21

L

1998

Outback

Kentucky

26-14

W

1999

Alamo

Texas A&M

24-0

W

2002

Capital One

Auburn

9-13

L

2005

Orange

Florida State

26-23 (3OT)

W

2006

Outback

Tennessee

20-10

W

2007

Alamo

Texas A&M

24-17

W

2008

Rose

USC

24-38

L

2009

Capital One

LSU

19-17

W

2010

Outback

Florida

24-37

L

2011

TicketCity

Houston

14-30

L



Seven Lions From NYC Metro Area
The Pinstripe Bowl will be a home game of sorts for seven Nittany Lions on the roster hailing from New York or Northern New Jersey. The list includes Jordan Lucas (New Rochelle, N.Y.), Brendan Mahon (Randolph, N.J.), Angelo Mangiro (Roxbury, N.J.), Jesse Merise (Hillside, N.J.), Garrett Sickels (Red Bank, N.J.), Anthony Smith (Dover, N.J.) and Evan Stenfield (Short Hills, N.J.).

Lions Begin Practice
Penn State kicked off its postseason practices on Saturday morning inside Holuba Hall. The Lions again practiced on Sunday in preparation for the bowl game. The next event on the schedule will be an introductory press conference at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. Stay tuned for much more coverage as the Nittany Lions return to the postseason.


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Highlighting Penn State's 2014 All-Big Ten Selections

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the 2014 regular season in the books, a host of Nittany Lions were honored on Monday evening when the conference unveiled its 2014 All-Big Ten selections.

Headlining the list is a pair of defensive standouts for Penn State. Take a look inside Penn State's All-Big Ten selections for 2014.


First Team All-Big Ten Honorees (Media and Coaches):


10592449.jpegLB Mike Hull - Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year
Senior Mike Hull has etched his place among the all-time greats at LinebackerU following a dominant season in 2014. Hull's statistics speak for themselves, but it has been the approach to every snap on the practice field, in the weight room and on the game field that has separated him from the best at the position. Simply put, Hull is a tireless worker with a never-ending drive to do everything in his power to ensure the Penn State defense is among the nation's elite. A senior captain, Hull has the utmost respect from all of his peers in the locker room for his efforts on and off the field. Hull will head into the bowl season averaging 11.2 tackles per game, mark that has only been topped by Greg Buttle (13.8 tpg in 1974 & 11.7 tpg in 1975) in Penn State history. Hull is a deserving recipient of the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year honor, but he would be the first to tell you that he doesn't play for individual accolades. Always humble, Hull's preparation, effort, intensity and production put him a cut above the rest of the linebackers in the Big Ten this fall.

"It means a lot to me. All of the hard work has been paying off," Hull said. "I'm just so honored to be able to receive this award. It's not possible without the great teammates around me and the coaching staff that puts us in great position to make plays every week."

- Leads the Big Ten with 134 total tackles (11.2 tpg; 9th nationally), averaging at least 1.9 tackles per game more than every other Big Ten player.

- Also leads the Big Ten in tackles in conference games only (96, 12.0 tpg).

- Recorded 10.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks, one INT, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, 3 pass break-ups.

- Has led Penn State in tackles in 11 of 12 games this season, with 8 double figure games and 3 games with nine stops.

- Made a career-high 19 tackles vs. Ohio State, 16 stops vs. Northwestern, 13 vs. Michigan State.

- Is on pace to become just the fifth Penn State player since 1975 to average at least 11.0 tackles per game, joining Greg Buttle, Andre Collins, Shawn Mayer and Dan Connor.

- Ranks No. 6 on Penn State career tackles list with 288.

- Ranks No. 6 on the Penn State season tackles list with 134. Sean Lee is 5th with 138 (2007).

- Graduated in May of 2014 with 3.30 GPA in Finance. Will be a four-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.


10592453.jpegDT Anthony Zettel
It would be hard to find a more disruptive player in the heart of a defense than Anthony Zettel was for Penn State in 2014. Zettel embodies every facet of defensive coordinator Bob Shoop's mantra of never-ending pressure and relentless pursuit. The Michigan native found a home at defensive tackle after playing at defensive end during his first two years on the field. Zettel's motor never stops. While his 15.0 tackles for loss and 8.0 sacks are terrific numbers, Zettel's impact in helping shut Penn State's opponents down goes far beyond tackles. Opposing coaches throughout the season pinpointed Zettel as a guy who altered the dynamic of games. Heading into the bowl season, Zettel is Penn State's leader in tackles for loss, sacks and interceptions. Those three figures speak volumes about No. 98's importance to one of the nation's top defensive units.

"It really shows that all of the defense's hard work has really paid off," Zettel said. "I'm really excited for this defense and this team. I really enjoyed playing alongside Austin Johnson, Deion (Barnes) and C.J. (Olaniyan). It was just a really enjoyable year."

- Leads the team with 15.0 tackles for loss (minus-65) and 8.0 sacks (minus-46). 14 of his TFL are solos.

- Is tied for No. 4 in the Big Ten in sacks and No. 4 in tackles for loss for the nation's No. 1 ranked rushing defense.

- Tied for team lead with three interceptions, the most by a Penn State defensive lineman since at least 1982.

- Has made 36 tackles (23 solo), has three interceptions, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and five pass break-ups, which rank No. 3 on team.

- Tied his career-high with 3.0 TFL (minus-10), with one sack, and grabbed his third interception of season vs. No. 10 Michigan State.

- Grabbed his second interception of the season vs. Ohio State, returning it 40 yards for a touchdown. Was Penn State's first  "Pick Six" since 2009.


Second Team All-Big Ten Honorees

10592455.jpegWR DaeSean Hamilton (Media)
Redshirt freshman DaeSean Hamilton had not taken a snap prior to taking the field at Croke Park for the season opener in Ireland. Hamilton made 11 receptions for 165 yards in his debut, and he never looked back from there. The Penn State freshman game and season receiving record holder for receptions and receiving yards, Hamilton was among the Big Ten's most productive receivers from start to finish in 2014. Hamilton missed all of the practices during his redshirt season in 2013 (injury), but his relentless work ethic in the weight room and during the offseason put him in a position to be successful in 2014. Hamilton is second only to All-American Allen Robinson on the season reception mark after making 75 catches this season. With three more seasons left on the field, the sky is the limit for where Hamilton can go from here in the Blue and White.

"It means a lot, and it is a great feeling, but all of the honors and accolades go to the team," Hamilton said. "Without the rest of the group and the offense, I wouldn't have been able to do half of these things. Missing last year really put things in perspective and humbled me. It made me want to get out there more hungry for this season."

- Selected Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice this season (2nd-highest total all season).

- Broke the Penn State freshman game and season records for receptions and receiving yards and the school overall record for catches in a game with 14 against Ohio State.

- Has led the Big Ten in receptions since Week 1. Has made 75 catches (6.2 receptions per game) to rank No. 2 on the Penn State season list, trailing only first-team All-American Allen Robinson's 77 and 97.

- Has 848 receiving yards (70.7 ypg), with a long catch of 51 yards, breaking the school freshman season record (Deon Butler, 691 in 2005).

- Is the only FBS freshmen nationally averaging more than 5.7 receptions per game and one of five FBS freshmen averaging 70 yards per game or higher.

- Broke the Penn State single game receptions record with 14 catches for 126 yards vs. Ohio State (Freddie Scott, 13 vs. Wisconsin, 1995).

- Broke the Penn State freshman season record (Deon Butler, 37 in 2005) in the sixth game of the season. Is five catches away from doubling the previous freshman record.

- Broke the Penn State freshman record for receiving yards (165) and catches (11) in a game in the comeback win over UCF and was selected Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week.


10592472.jpeg K Sam Ficken (Media and Coaches)
A model for how to handle adversity, Sam Ficken put together one of the best seasons by a Penn State placekicker in 2014. A co-captain, Ficken finished the season ranked third in the nation with 1.92 field goals made per game. He opened 2014 with a game-winning kick to help the Lions knock off UCF at the Croke Park Classic. Ficken then broke the Penn State record with his 23rd made kick in the regular season finale against Michigan State. Ficken is another true example for what dedication means to a football program. A perfectionist when it comes to mastering his craft, Ficken's success in 2014 is solely a byproduct of the hard work he has put together during the past three years. He has earned every ounce of success, and Ficken's consistent senior season is deserving of All-Big Ten recognition.

"It's a good feeling. Obviously a lot of hard work and dedication went into it," said Ficken. "I'm excited about it. I'm pretty happy about how the season went. There are obviously a few kicks I'd like to get back, but overall I couldn't have asked for a better senior year."

- 2014 semifinalist for the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-kicker Award.

- Is No. 1 in Big Ten and No. 3 in FBS in field goals made (1.92 per game).

- Is 23 of 28 on field goals this year (4 misses were blocks). Made a 50-yard FG vs. Temple on Nov. 15.

- Broke the Penn State season record with his 23rd field goal vs. Michigan State.

- Is No. 3 in Big Ten; No. 11 in FBS in FG accuracy (82.1).

- Ranks second in Penn State history with 53 career field goals made.

- Leads team in scoring for third consecutive year, with 93 points (23-28 FG, 24-24 PAT).

- Ranks fourth on Penn State's career scoring list with 264 points.

- Selected Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week twice this season and four times in his career.

- Was 4-of-4 on field goal attempts, including the 36-yard game winner on the final play to beat UCF in 2014 season opener, earning Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

- Became the first Penn State placekicker since at least 1982 to have three field goals of 45 or more yards in a game (46, 47, 48) against Maryland to earn Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors;

- His 54-yard field goal vs. Kent State in 2013 is the longest FG made by a Penn State player in Beaver Stadium history (since 1960).

- Has a 3.59 GPA in Finance and is on schedule to graduate in May of 2015. Will be a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.


All-Big Ten Honoree Interviews


All-Big Ten Honorable Mention


S Adrian Amos
DE Deion Barnes
TE Jesse James
DT Austin Johnson
CB Jordan Lucas
OL Angelo Mangiro
CB Trevor Williams



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A Foundation Built on Loyalty

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seniors_blog.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Loyalty means more to the small group of Penn State seniors on the 2014 team than it would to just about any other class in the program's iconic history.

Alongside its two predecessors in 2012 and 2013, the 2014 senior class will go down as a group of individuals who deserve more recognition than they have gotten credit for.

In July of 2012, this group, more than any other, had a distinct opportunity to leave the challenges following the NCAA sanctions announcement. The players in this group of seniors could have walked out the door and played three full seasons anywhere in America.

Anyone in the class could have left without any repercussions to attend a school that could compete for a conference title, post-season berth or a national championship.

The entire group faced open recruitment by dozens of schools across the country.

No student-athlete signed up for the challenges and scrutiny bestowed upon them starting in November 2011 and magnified the following July, so it would have been easy to leave. And some of their teammates and classmates did just that.

But knowing the road would be a challenge unlike any other student-athletes had ever faced, this small collection of men refused to leave their family behind.

A bond had been forged inside the locker room and in their residences, and this resilient group refused to break it.

The players knew they couldn't play in a bowl game. They knew they couldn't compete for a national championship. They knew the deck was almost insurmountably stacked against them.

They didn't care.

For this group, the sanctions, hurdles and hardships brought the group closer together. The situation reaffirmed their passion for the University they had committed to.

The Penn State community embraced the group of players with open arms, and the group is forever grateful for the support from the thousands of Blue and White faithful worldwide.

But for the past three years, their actions have spoken louder than any words. These seniors played for one another. They played for their families. They played for the players who wore the blue and white before them. They played for Penn State. And they did everything with class.

"You always want to leave a legacy with your peers where they remember you as a group that set an example," guard Miles Dieffenbach said. "We all tried to be a role figure, and it means a lot to leave here knowing we did that."

It's impossible to imagine what it might have been like to walk in the shoes of men like safety Adrian Amos, running back Bill Belton, linebacker Mike Hull, defensive end C.J. Olaniyan or running back Zach Zwinak. Despite the odds of competing in the Big Ten with a roster of limited scholarships, the group's confidence never wavered.

"I think we have been able to be so successful against the odds because Penn State is so special," Hull said. "Everyone understood the importance of upholding the legacy of this University and the football program."

This group's college experience has been unique to any other in the history of Penn State Football, which is why the group deserves the utmost respect from any supporter of the program or intercollegiate athletics. They worked hard for one another in the toughest of circumstances because that is the only thing they knew how to do.

"I just wanted to enjoy it and cherish every moment," Amos said. "This process helped develop me as a person and made me stronger as a man. There were a lot a chances to quit and get angry, but I came here for a reason."

It was clear two years ago that the current seniors weren't playing for accolades or a bowl game. The quest for success was far bigger than wins and losses on the field. The group saw the situation not as a challenge, but as an opportunity to grow together.

"Whether it is in life or in football, this is something that you had to adapt to," Belton said. "We found a way to make things work."

But that doesn't mean the 2014 seniors weren't more deserving of a chance at a post-season game than anyone else in college football. When the NCAA lifted the ban on post-season play on Sept. 8, head coach James Franklin called every member of the team who was on the roster in July of 2012 to the front of the meeting room to stand before the rest of the team.

Franklin and the underclassmen gave the collection of players standing in the front of the room a rousing, standing ovation and pleaded with the young players in the room to play the rest of the 2014 season for the men who had been through never ending adversity, especially the seniors.


"We are so appreciative of all the things you guys have done," Franklin said.

Behind a dominant defense, the Nittany Lions reached a sixth win and bowl eligibility with a 30-13 victory over Temple. And while the seniors never suited up for the right to play in a bowl game, they deserved the moment they shared with one another inside the winning locker room on Nov. 15.

"I think the bowl game is just a great reward because of everything we have gone through," Hull said.

"It's a sense of accomplishment that we stuck together," Amos said. "It's rewarding that we will have this opportunity that we have worked hard for."

Penn State's season will extend beyond the Michigan State. The extra practices and additional game will pay huge dividends for the nation's second-youngest team. But more importantly, this group of seniors will have an opportunity to be together as a family for one more month.

The 2014 senior class is a rare group that embodies loyalty beyond any words.

Prior to the season, nine members of the senior class had already earned their degrees. Amos and Tyrone Smith are on schedule to graduate in December, along with six redshirt juniors, for a total of 11 seniors and 17 players who have earned their degrees prior to Penn State's bowl game.

Despite all the obstacles, the 2014 seniors have been instrumental in the Nittany Lions earning a 30-17 record the past four years, with three winning seasons and an opportunity for a fourth during their careers.

"It's just a great group of people," Amos said. "This is a group that wanted to be a part of building something. I just love this senior class."

"We talk about it all the time as a group about how we stuck together as a family," Olaniyan said.

The seniors may not leave with all the victories and championships they had hoped to win when they committed to Penn State, but the group's battle through adversity gives success a far different meaning than wins and losses. In a situation that few thought would be possible for the program to survive, this group stood tall with dignity, class and an unrivaled work-ethic.

"The legacy we want to leave is that we kept fighting. We stuck together," Amos said. "There is always light at the end of the tunnel. If you keep fighting, you will find that light."

It's a group that let its actions set an example for individuals in all facets of life. It's a group that has earned the respect from everyone who supports the Blue and White. And it's a group summed up best in one statement from Mike Hull.

"I love Penn State so much."

VIDEO: James Franklin Postgame vs. Michigan State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin talks with the media following Saturday's Senior Day game against No. 10 Michigan State.

VIDEO: Postgame Player Interviews - Michigan State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Several Nittany Lions talk with the media following Saturday's Senior Day game against No. 10 Michigan State.

2014 Photo Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's coverage of the 2014 football season. Check back often for an inside look at the Penn State's final regular season game of the season against Michigan State.

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2014 Game Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of the 2014 football season. Tune in for live blog coverage from all 12 games on the schedule. Penn State closes out the season with a matchup against Michigan State inside Beaver Stadium.



Live Blog 2014 Game Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan State
 



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2014 Gameday Preview - Lions Host Michigan State on Senior Day

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GAME BLOG - Penn State vs. Michigan State

Game Notes | Gameday Central | Michigan State Scouting Report | Coach Franklin Wednesday

Press Conference Roundup | Coach Shoop Q&A | Player Q&A Video | Community Service

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions (6-5, 2-5) will host No. 10 Michigan State (9-2, 6-1) on Senior Day inside Beaver Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday with television coverage on ABC (ESPN2 outer markets).

10578368.jpegPenn State will pay tribute to a special group of seniors prior to Saturday's game. The program will honor a collection of 17 players who have exhibited unrivaled commitment to Penn State during some of its toughest times. A senior class that has seemingly gone through everything during its time in the Blue and White is deserving of a standing ovation from the Beaver Stadium faithful on Saturday.

The list of players who will be honored includes: Adrian Amos, DeShawn Baker, Brad Bars, Bill Belton, Drew Boyce, Jesse Della Valle, Miles Dieffenbach, Sam Ficken, Mike Hull, Ryan Keiser, Jesse Merise, C.J. Olaniyan, Devin Pryor, T.J. Rhattigan, Tyrone Smith, Deron Thompson and Zach Zwinak.

The Nittany Lions are coming off a tough 16-14 setback at Illinois last week after the Fighting Illini made a game-winning field goal with eight seconds left. The Lions enter the final week of the regular season having held nine of their 11 opponents to fewer than 20 points in regulation this season.

Penn State is the only FBS team in the top five in rushing defense, total defense, pass efficiency defense and scoring defense. The Nittany Lions are No. 1 in the nation against the run (81.7 ypg.), No. 3 in the nation in total defense (267.2 ypg) and No. 4 in the nation in scoring defense (16.2 ppg) and No. 3 in pass efficiency defense (94.78).

Additionally, Penn State is second in third down conversion percentage defense (27.6 percent), is third in the nation in first downs defense (156 total), is 15th in passes intercepted (15) and is No. 17 in passing yards allowed (185.5 ypg).


Penn State is also one of just two teams in the nation to have not allowed a rushing play of 30 or more yards (Syracuse). The Lions also lead the nation with fewest plays of 30 or more yards allowed this season (7).


Saturday's game will pit one of the Big Ten's top defenses against one of the top offenses. Michigan State enters the final week of the season
ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten in total offense (514.5 ypg) and the No. 3 in the Big Ten in total defense (299.0 ypg). Rated as the Big Ten's top passing offense, Michigan State has scored 27 or more points in every game on the schedule this season and is averaging 43.9 points per game.

The Senior Day game is also a Blue Out. Fans are encouraged to wear blue attire to support Prevent Child Abuse PA. Official Blue Out shirts have been available for purchase at the Penn State Bookstore and other downtown outlets since the summer, with proceeds going to Prevent Child Abuse PA.

The Penn State Blue Band will pay tribute to retiring director Dr. Dick Bundy with a halftime performance featuring music that he arranged and the formations he designed during his career, including music and formations used in the 1983 Sugar Bowl and 1986 Orange Bowl.

The Nittany Lions and Spartans will battle for the Land Grant Trophy on Saturday. Penn State and Michigan State were the nation's first two Land Grant institutions, both founded in February of 1855.

Welcome to the Gameday Preview for the week 12 matchup against Michigan State.


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Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
10578370.jpeg1. Seventeen seniors will be honored for their efforts before kickoff, but one name stands out in the group. Simply put, Mike Hull's impact on the 2014 team cannot be measured in statistics. The Pittsburgh native has been incredibly productive and consistent since the season began in Ireland on Nov. 30. Entering the week as the Big Ten's top tackler (11.0 tpg), Hull has a knack for being in a great position to make plays on virtually every single snap. His work ethic on the practice field is second to none, and Hull has made everyone around him elevate their game this fall. Hull has played a season at middle linebacker among the greatest players in Linebacker U history, and he is deserving of a big game in his final outing at Beaver Stadium.

2. No player has felt the effects of Donovan Smith and Miles Dieffenbach being back in the lineup on the offensive line more than junior running back Akeel Lynch. On the heels of a career-high 28 carries and career-best 137 yards at Illinois, Lynch's confidence is at an all-time high. Lynch tallied his second-straight 100-yard performance in Champaign last week, which included a 47-yard touchdown run. Against a Michigan State defense that has been stingy against the ground attack, the Lions will need another strong outing from Lynch and the running back corps this week.

3. Like Hull and so many of the senior members of the team, kicker Sam Ficken has earned the respect of every single member of the football program for his work ethic and production and ability to overcome adversity. Ficken has been consistent every step of the way in 2014. He is 22-of-26 on field goal attempts (all four misses were blocked) in 2014. Ficken is ranked 11th in the nation in field goal percentage (84.6 percent) and third in the nation in field goals per game (2.00). Ranked second in Penn State history with 52 made field goals, the Indiana native will go down as one of Penn State's most productive kickers.

What to Watch For - Michigan State
10578344.jpeg1. Penn State leads the nation in defending the run at 81.7 yards per game. The unit will face a stiff test on Saturday against Michigan State junior Jeremy Langford. The Spartan running back enters the weekend having eclipsed the 100-yard mark in 14 consecutive Big Ten games (Longest streak in FBS conference games since the stat has been kept in 1996). Langford is a big, physical back with great speed. He will be looking to set a school record of nine-straight 100-yard games.

2. In the passing game, Michigan State junior Connor Cook and wide receiver Tony Lippett have been a formidable duo for the Spartan offense. Cook is the Big Ten's passing leader with 2,720 yards (21 touchdowns and 5 interceptions) while completing 59 percent of his passes. Lippett is the Big Ten's only 1,000-yard receiver thus far. He has made 56 receptions and scored a Big Ten-best 10 touchdowns.

3. Defensively, the Spartans field a talented collection of impact players. Safety Kurtis Drummond leads Michigan State with 59 tackles and four interceptions this season. The Spartans have three players with 11.0 tackles for loss, including standout defensive end Shilique Calhoun. Michigan State leads the nation in turnover margin (+1.73) and is No. 3 in turnovers gained this season (31).

The Final Word:
The 2014 senior class has been instrumental in helping Penn State earning a 30-18 on-field record during unprecedented circumstances in the last four years. The senior class has earned three-straight winning seasons and will have a chance for a fourth on Saturday. Nine of the 17 seniors graduated prior to the start of the 2014 season. The group also includes the No. 3 scorer in school history, one of the program's elite tacklers, a 2,000-yard rusher and six of the seven team captains. Additionally, the Nittany Lions are thrilled to pay tribute to safety Ryan Keiser, whose season was cut short with a season-ending injury prior to the Ohio State game. Keiser's maturity and leadership have been paramount to Penn State's success during the last for seasons. The kickoff is set for 3:36 p.m. on Saturday with Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham and Jeanine Edwards calling the ABC broadcast.



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Happy Thanksgiving from Penn State Athletics

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - 'Tis the season for giving thanks, and the Penn State Athletics would like to take an opportunity to say thank you to the loyal fans on Thanksgiving.

As you sit down with family and friends to eat your traditional meal while the Lions and Cowboys host their annual Thanksgiving day home games, Penn State Athletics would like to thank you, the fans, for the unrivaled support you give every team on campus.  Penn State's teams would not be the same without the greatest fans in college sports.

As a token of their appreciation, several student-athletes from teams on campus would like to say thank you and Happy Thanksgiving for the support you give them throughout the athletic season.

VIDEO: James Franklin Practice Update - Michigan State Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin provided an update to the media following Wednesday's practice session inside Holuba Hall. The Nittany Lions host Michigan State in Saturday's Senior Day game (3:30 on ABC).