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Twenty Years Later - Remembering Penn State vs. Michigan in 1995

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Mich95_Blog 3.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State and Michigan will collide for the 19th time on Saturday afternoon when the Nittany Lions welcome the Wolverines for a noon kick on ABC.

Today marks a historic day in the history between two of college football's greatest programs.

On Nov. 18, 1995, Penn State and Michigan battled in a game simply known as "The Snow Bowl" inside Beaver Stadium. A surprise storm blanketed 18 inches of snow in Happy Valley just three days before the game. Penn State Athletics paid hundreds of volunteers to feverishly remove the snow from Beaver Stadium before the game.

The snow removal crew included 188 prisoners from area correctional institutions. And despite the significant snowfall and severely limited parking around the stadium, approximately 80,000 spectators filled Beaver Stadium to watch the Hall of Fame head coach Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions and the Wolverines, led by first-year head coach Lloyd Carr.

The play of the game came in the final three minutes of action when the Nittany Lions used a fake field goal attempt to seal a 27-17 victory over the Wolverines. With the clock reading 2:40 to play and the Lions leading 20-17, kicker Brett Conway lined up for a 19-yard field goal attempt. However, the snap went to holder Joe Nastasi, a sophomore wide receiver at the time, who breezed into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown to help clinch the win over the 12th-ranked Wolverines.

"We were going to run it all game, we just didn't know when," Nastasi said to the media after the game. "It felt good, especially against Michigan. I just knew it was going to happen. I wasn't going to be denied on that one."

With snow piles lining the perimeter of the Beaver Stadium playing surface, the Nittany Lions jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the second quarter following a 49-yard field goal from Conway and a 13-yard touchdown pass from Wally Richardson to Mike Archie. Michigan answered in the form of a Brian Griese touchdown pass to Amani Toomer, but Conway added a 51-yard field goal to make it a 13-7 game at halftime.

Michigan tallied a field goal to set the score at 13-10 heading into the fourth quarter. Richardson and Bobby Engram connected on a 12-yard scoring play in the fourth quarter to make it a 20-10 game. Michigan pulled to within three on an 18-yard touchdown run from Tim Biakabutuka before Nastasi's clinching touchdown run.

Led by Coach Paterno, the victory marked the second of three-straight for Penn State against Michigan.

The Nittany Lions finished with 438 total yards, including 245 on the ground. Penn State running back Stephen Pitts rushed for a career-high 164 yards on 17 carries. Richardson was 17-for-31 for 193 yards and had two touchdowns through the air. Engram was Penn State's leading receiver with five catches for 87 yards.

In a series marked by close games, the 1995 victory is one of 11 games between the Nittany Lions and Wolverines decided by 10 points or fewer.

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Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 Tuesday Press Conference Roundup - Michigan Week

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11494693.jpegVIDEO: Michigan Week Player Q&A | Transcripts - James Franklin | Players

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a bye week, head coach James Franklin addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon to preview Penn State's home finale against Michigan.

The Nittany Lions (7-3, 4-2) will meet the Wolverines (8-2, 5-1) on Saturday at 12 p.m. (ABC) inside Beaver Stadium. Franklin reviewed Penn State's off week and looked ahead to the Senior Day clash against Michigan.

The 2015 senior class may be small in number (19 players will be recognized on Saturday prior to kickoff), but this is a group of Penn State student-athletes who have demonstrated unrivaled commitment and passion for the University and the football program.

It's a group that has seen more during the past four or five years on campus than most programs see in several decades. The seniors have forged a bond with one another and the football program that has truly made the situation incredibly unique.

"You just think about everything that these guys have been through, and they're kind of the glue," said Franklin. "They're the glue that kept this program together. They're the glue and the foundation that stood strong when Penn State needed them the most."

No group is more deserving than a proper sendoff on Saturday. The Senior Day ceremony is always a special occasion, but the Penn State fans should treat this day a little different than most. Without this senior class, it's hard to envision where the program might be right now.

"For us to go into that stadium with a sellout on Senior Day and it to be a whiteout and for this community and our students and our fans and the alumni to come together more than anything to support these young men and let them know how much we mean to them, how much they mean to us, I think is important," said Franklin.

On the field, the Lions will be well rested when they take the field for Saturday's contest against Michigan. The team practiced on an abbreviated schedule during the bye week to ensure the group could get proper rest to remain as fresh as possible for the final two games of the regular season.

The bye week was a productive one, though. The Lions implemented corrections following the last outing and began looking forward to preparing for Michigan. The players had an opportunity to go home over the weekend, and most of the squad spent Saturday watching Michigan play Indiana.

"I think the fact that the players were able to watch Indiana play Michigan and it went to overtime, that was a heck of a game," said Franklin. "That was a heck of a game as a fan of football to watch. And then once we got all that information, we were able to finalize our game plans. We're probably a little bit more ahead than obviously in a normal week."

Franklin and the Nittany Lions know what type of challenge Saturday's matchup will be. The Wolverines rank among the nation's top defensive units in numerous statistical categories, and they have been consistent throughout the season. Offensively, the Wolverines have been red-hot of late. Michigan also boasts one of the most experienced teams in the country with 18 senior starters.

"They're big and physical on both fronts. I think some of those numbers are a little bit skewed whenever you're playing an overtime game. It skews the numbers a little bit," said Franklin. "But, yeah, they are playing with a lot more confidence right now. They're much more explosive on offense. And they're doing a nice job."

The Nittany Lions will have the advantage of playing in the confines of home. Like Franklin noted on Tuesday, the crowd has been a huge factor in Penn State starting the season 6-0 at home. The Lions need another standout crowd in what should be a terrific Penn State White Out atmosphere on Saturday afternoon.

"It's going to be a tremendous challenge," Franklin said. "There's no doubt about it. But I'm looking forward to being at home, where we've played pretty good, and we're gaining confidence with those things as well. So should be a great college game. It should be a great college atmosphere. Looking forward to it."

The Nittany Lions will practice in shells on Tuesday and Wednesday before the final game week session on Thursday. Saturday's game inside Beaver Stadium will kick at 12 p.m. with a national telecast on ABC.

Press Conference Notes:
- Coach Franklin on what stands out about the senior class.

I think probably one of the things that jumps out to me as much as anything is how our older players, our juniors and seniors, have embraced the younger guys and helped them. A lot of times, it may be at a same position where the younger guy may be playing ahead of them, and that's not always the case. That's not always the case.

"Our guys really have that spirit of doing what's best for Penn State and doing what's best for the program as well as, kind of like we talk about all the time, their spirit of service, serving others. I think that kind of trickles down into our program as well. What our guys are doing in the community, what they do for each other, those go hand in hand. I'm really proud of them."

- Seniors Anthony Zettel and Matt Baney were in attendance at Thursday's press conference and reflected upon their time at Penn State. Additionally, each guy selected his favorite Penn State moment.

"For a particular moment, it was probably the interception, pick six versus Ohio State, how it just changed the game," Zettel said "I think just from an overall team win, when we went to Wisconsin - no. Probably the four overtime against Michigan. That was the best moment."

"I would say my favorite moment was probably the Michigan game in (Coach) O'Brien's last year," Baney said. "It was an incredible season. We had a lot of games that kind of went like that, but watching that comeback, and the sideline never had a doubt that we were going to win that game. Everyone was behind each other 100 percent. That was a special time for me and for the rest of our teammates."

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Michigan Week Player Q&As

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - talks with senior defensive tackle Anthony Zettel, senior linebacker Matt Baney and junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg during Michigan week.

Anthony Zettel

Matt Baney

Christian Hackenberg

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Monday Notebook: Penn State White Out History

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9503592.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a bye, the Nittany Lions return to action this week for the penultimate game on the 2015 schedule.

Penn State will battle No. 14 Michigan on Senior Day in Beaver Stadium. Additionally, the Nittany Lion faithful will take part in one of the program's greatest traditions in the annual Penn State White Out game.

Always a fan favorite, Beaver Stadium will play host to a complete stadium Penn State White Out on Saturday afternoon (12 p.m.). A tradition stretching back to a student section white out in 2004, the Penn State White Outs have created an unrivaled atmosphere inside the 107,000-seat home of Penn State football.

Saturday's game will mark the eighth time the Nittany Lions will host a full stadium Penn State White Out. The history of the event began on Oct. 9, 2004 when the first student white out was held when the Nittany Lions hosted Purdue. Since then, there has been either a student section white out or full stadium white out in each of the past 11 seasons.

The first full stadium Penn State White Out took place on Sept. 8, 2007 when the Lions defeated Notre Dame, 31-10. Saturday will mark the second time Penn State has played Michigan in a full stadium Penn State White Out. The Lions outlasted the Wolverines in a thrilling four-overtime game (43-40) during Michigan's last visit to Beaver Stadium on Oct. 12, 2013.

Penn State White Out History
Oct. 9, 2004 vs. Purdue (student section)

Oct. 8, 2005 vs. Ohio State (student section)

Oct. 14, 2006 vs. Michigan (student section)

Sept. 8, 2007 vs. Notre Dame (full stadium)

Sept. 27, 2008 vs. Illinois (full stadium)

Sept. 26, 2009 vs. Iowa (full stadium)

Oct. 30, 2010 vs. Michigan (student section)

Sept. 10, 2011 vs. Alabama (full stadium)

Oct. 27, 2012 vs. Ohio State  (full stadium)

Oct. 12, 2013 vs. Michigan (full stadium)

Oct. 25, 2014 vs. Ohio State (full stadium)

The Lions will meet the Wolverines at noon on ABC in the final game inside Beaver Stadium for 2015.

Statistical Update on Carl Nassib
With the Nittany Lions idle over the weekend, senior defensive end Carl Nassib's stellar season statistics remained the same as they were last week. However, Nassib will head into the final two weeks of the regular season as the national leader in sacks (15.5) and tackles for loss (19.5).

The Penn State season record holder in sacks, Nassib has averaged 1.55 sacks per game during the first 10 games of the season. He has at least one sack in every game this season. Additionally, Nassib has averaged 2.0 tackles for loss per game.

Nassib is 3.0 sacks clear of Maryland junior defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who is second in the nation in sacks at 12.5 on the season. Duke defensive back Jeremy Cash is second nationally in tackles for loss with 17.5.

Early Look at Michigan
Led by first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh, Michigan (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) is the 14th-ranked team in the Associated Press Top 25 this week. The Wolverines topped Indiana in dramatic fashion on Saturday afternoon in Bloomington. Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock connected with wide receiver Jehu Chesson on a fourth down touchdown in the final seconds of regulation to send the game into overtime. Michigan outlasted the Hoosiers in double OT by a score of 48-41. Rudock and Chesson were superb in the victory, with Rudock tossing six touchdown passes and finishing with 440 yards through the air. Chesson had 10 catches for 207 yards and four touchdowns.

For the season, Rudock has thrown for 2,220 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 64.2 percent of his passes. Junior running back De'Veon Smith is Michigan's leading rusher with 582 yards and five touchdowns. Amara Darboh leads the Michigan receivers with 45 receptions for 567 yards. Michigan's offense is ranked No. 3 in the nation inside the red zone (95.2 percent).

Defensively, Michigan is among the national leaders in several statistical categories. Michigan is No. 2 in the nation in total defense (268.7 yards per game). Additionally, the Wolverines are ranked No. 8 in rushing defense (103.2 yards per game), No. 6 in passing yards allowed (165.5 yards per game) and No. 6 in scoring defense (14.8 points per game).

Penn State and Michigan will meet for the 19th time on Saturday. The Nittany Lions are 7-11 all-time against the Wolverines and 4-5 in games held at Beaver Stadium. Penn State has won the last three against Michigan in Beaver Stadium, including the thrilling 43-40 four-overtime win in 2013.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Committed to the Process

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11474206.jpegBy Tony Mancuso
(Story Originally Appeared in Beaver Stadium Pictorial for Illinois Game)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Commitment.

It's a word used a lot in the realm of college athletics.

It's a word that has a different meaning to different people.

And it's one thing to say you are committed to something.

It's another thing to live by your word.

Christian Hackenberg's commitment didn't necessarily begin on Feb. 28, 2012, the day he elected to play for Penn State.

It began on the couch in the living room of the Hackenberg household in Palmyra, Va., Sitting there as a lanky high school kid who had just finished his freshman year, Hackenberg, along with his parents - Erick and Nicole - and eventual high school coach - Micky Sullivan - made a choice.

"As a freshman going into my sophomore year, my family and I were making a decision that would put me in the best position to be successful," Hackenberg said. "I didn't necessarily realize it then. I thought they were sending me over to a military school, but at the same time, I understood that from the big picture, it made sense."

Hackenberg enrolled at Fork Union Military School as a sophomore. He committed to the process, and he hasn't looked back since.

An Under Armour All-American, Hackenberg threw for more than 5,000 yards and 55 touchdowns during his three seasons at Fork Union. He led the Blue Devils to the state title game twice, including a championship in 2010. A five-star prospect by all of the major recruiting services, Hackenberg had his pick of resting places for his college career out of high school.

Leaning on his support system for advice, the insight Hackenberg received from Sullivan, a grandfather figure to the signal-caller, still resonates with him to this day.

"The ultimate factor in his advice to me was that if you get hurt on the first day of practice and can't play again, and are you going to be happy going to school there? That was the last question asked when we were talking about committing," said Hackenberg.

Then, why Penn State?

"I grew up in a blue collar, hard-working family," Hackenberg said. "My parents were always able to give my brothers and I everything we ever needed. We grew up in an awesome house. But competing, hard work, nose to the grindstone. All of those words kind of went in to what my family was when I grew up.

"That type of environment, the blue collar and do whatever it takes to get things done, when you step on campus here, that's what you feel. There are a lot of people on this campus who are that way. It's a great environment for someone like that. The resources are here. The ball is in your court to go out and work to accomplish what you want to do. I love that."

The scholastic standout officially signed a letter of intent to play for Penn State on Feb. 6, 2013, but things were far from smooth between the day he selected Penn State and the day he put ink on the paper to become a Nittany Lion.

While competing at the finals of the Elite 11 in Redondo Beach, Calif., in July of 2012, news began circulating that a major announcement pertaining to the Penn State football program was imminent. Hackenberg and his father landed in Richmond, Va., after the trip on the West Coast, ran to their car and listened to radio as the breaking news of unprecedented NCAA sanctions transpired.

In the days following the announcement on July 23, 2012, Hackenberg and fellow commits from the 2013 recruiting class had an important decision to make.

The families from that recruiting class, including Adam Breneman, Brendan Mahon, Andrew Nelson and Garrett Sickels, traveled to University Park just days after the announcement to meet with then head coach Bill O'Brien to find some answers to what might happen. Understandably, the families did not want their sons to commit and then have the entire team leave under the open transfer rule.

"Coach O'Brien sat there in the team room and handled the questions as good as he could," said Hackenberg. "I think he did an amazing job ensuring that the core group of guys understood his vision of what the team was, and then you let guys like Micheal Mauti and Michael Zordich take over. And they did. We are forever grateful for those guys because they still gave us a shot to come in here, compete and still be successful at a high level. That's something that often gets overlooked."

Simply put, Hackenberg could have chosen to play almost anywhere in the nation following the announcement of NCAA sanctions. And when he verbally committed to Penn State in February of 2012, he didn't sign up for scholarship limitations or a postseason ban.

But none of that mattered to a guy whose loyalty bleeds blue and white.

He wanted to be at Penn State.

Hackenberg arrived on the University Park campus in late June of 2013. Less than two months later, the 18-year-old became the second true freshman quarterback to start a season opener since 1910.

"This has been my goal ever since I was little, to be able to play major college football," Hackenberg said back in 2013 when Coach O'Brien made the decision mid-way through the pre-season.  "To be able to start my first ever college game is a huge attribute to the team around me and the coaching staff."

Hackenberg solidified his place in the starting lineup with a two-minute drill touchdown drive in Beaver Stadium during the team's first scrimmage of pre-season camp. Despite being just weeks removed from high school, the stage never looked too big for him.

"It was one of those things where I wanted it, but I wasn't quite sure what 'it' was," said Hackenberg. "I didn't know what to expect. And we didn't have any guys on the team at quarterback who knew what to expect. We kind of went in to the process blind as a unit."

Hackenberg threw for 278 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 23-17 Penn State win over Syracuse in MetLife Stadium during his debut. He went on to set 10 school freshman game or season records in 2013.

"I think looking back, it was an awesome experience for me," Hackenberg said. "For me, it was kind of like, throw you into the fire a little bit and see how you react. As the game went on, we made some plays and it unfolded in our favor. That experience kind of set my mindset moving forward for the rest of my career, just to keep battling and moving forward and push through things. Looking back at it, it was tough, but it was a positive."

That fiber of pushing through adversity is what distinguishes Hackenberg. Playing quarterback at Penn State is far from easy. Expectations for the position are high, no matter what the situation might be. But No. 14 has done for three years what he knows how to do best - battle.

"Understanding that it's the reality of playing this position at any big school across the country. But being able to deal with some adversity and some things that may not have been expected when I first decided to come here, I think that goes back to the competitor inside me to just keep battling and find a way," said Hackenberg.

The circumstances have been far from normal for any Penn State player who has been on the roster during the past three seasons. There have been ups and downs along the way, but that's what Hackenberg takes pride in. As a leader, he has shouldered plenty, but the bond he has forged with the school and football program is powerful.

"When you hear things along the way that your career is going to fizzle because of the sanctions or you should have gone to Alabama, that stuff just angers me," said Hackenberg. "We all made a decision to come here, and we've been pretty successful under the circumstances and we've stayed relevant when people thought this program was going to die. To me, it's always been moving to the next thing and battle to maintain that level of standard so that this place can be a national championship contender in the future."

Though Hackenberg is a relatively laid back individual, he's a fiery competitor in every aspect of being a student-athlete. And he's a prideful man when it comes to his feelings for Penn State.

"I'm extremely proud of what we have been able to achieve collectively," said Hackenberg. "I'm proud of the guys I've played with every single year I've been here. Every single one of these guys are warriors in my book. I challenge any other program in the country to do what we did with the group of people that we had."

A story about the numbers Hackenberg has tallied or the school records he has set could fill a newspaper, and deservedly so. When his time is up in Happy Valley, the Virginia native will go down as one of the program's all-time greats.

Hackenberg's first three seasons have been marked by big plays, thrilling wins and the program's first bowl win after the sanctions were lifted - a moment Hackenberg calls his most satisfying to date.

But there is far more beneath the surface to what makes No. 14 special.

There is a reason why he has the ultimate respect of any player in the locker room. There is a reason why that no matter how many times he's been knocked down he always gets back up stronger.

"No ego is too big. No number means anything," Hackenberg said. "You have to go out and prove yourself each and every week and each and every day in practice. That's been my approach; prepare like a pro, practice like a pro and on Saturdays, just play hard."

Adversity does not outlast individuals with a mindset and work ethic like Christian Hackenberg.

And no one can ever question his commitment to the process in filling a position he loves at a place he truly cherishes.

"You just want to keep pushing and getting better," said Hackenberg. "You just want to keep trying to out-play the expectations. You want to keep trying to out-play the limitations that people put on us. That's what I live for. I want to keep out-dueling those expectations."

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: James Franklin Practice Update - Bye Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin addressed the media following Wednesday's practice session at the Lasch Football Complex.

The Nittany Lions practiced on Tuesday and Wednesday of the bye week. The Lions return to action on Nov. 21 against Michigan. Take a look at an update from Coach Franklin on the team's week.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Nittany Lions Spend Off Day Volunteering in Community

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service_blog1.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Approximately 30 members of the Nittany Lion football team used the first day of the bye week as an opportunity to volunteer in the State College area.

Four different groups participated in community service activities at the Centre Furnace Mansion, State College Food Bank, Youth Service Bureau House and Life Link.

The volunteers helped with a wide range of activities, including landscaping, organizing canned foods for donation and painting.

"It's really important to get out and help folks in the community," said freshman quarterback Tommy Stevens. "I think it's important to give back to the community because of the position that we are in. It makes a big difference for the team and community when we get out and participate in events like this."

"It's great to give back. We truly enjoy doing events like this because it means a lot to give back to other people when we have the chance," said freshman wide receiver Brandon Polk.

Because the annual United Way Day of Caring fell on a game week earlier this fall, the Nittany Lions wanted to use the bye week as an opportunity to give back in several areas around State College.

"We need to help people out with service any time that we can, so with it being the bye week, we had some extra time and we wanted to be out helping others. It's very important to help your local community," said freshman cornerback John Reid.

Core value No. 1 for Penn State Football is to compete in everything you do. That is evident on the practice field every day. It's also evident at community service endeavors.

"We are out with our friends, and we honestly enjoy it. It's great to be a little competitive about it, but we enjoy being out here with one another while giving back," said Polk.

The Nittany Lions take the responsibility of giving back to the community very seriously. The 30 student-athletes jumped at the opportunity to spend time with one another while giving back to the community. The Nittany Lions completed more than 2,000 hours of community service during 2014-15.

"I love doing things for other people. It just makes you feel great to do things for others, and personally, it is a lot of fun to be out in the community," Polk said.

"As football players, it's really important to do way more than just that, we want to get out and help the community in any way that we can. Guys really do enjoy it," said Reid.

The Nittany Lions return to the practice field on Tuesday of the bye week in preparation for the home finale against Michigan on Nov. 21.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Monday Notebook: Nassib Stands Alone with Sack Record

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11469581.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior defensive end Carl Nassib's journey to the Penn State starting lineup is a tremendous success story by itself.

Now, the standout defensive end will add another chapter to what is becoming a storied legacy in Penn State lore after becoming the program's season record holder in sacks on Saturday afternoon.

It's almost unfathomable to think that Nassib had not started a single high school or college football game until the season-opener at Temple. He was not a five-star recruit coming out of high school, and he wasn't even sure he was interested in playing college football at the time.

But a driven mindset and an undying work ethic since the day he arrived in the football program has steered Nassib to a truly remarkable senior season.

With his solo sack in the fourth quarter at Northwestern on Saturday, Nassib passed Larry Kubin (1979) and Michael Haynes (2002) as the program's all-time season leader in sacks with 15.5.

Simply put, Nassib plays with the mindset that no one can stop him. No matter how many snaps Nassib is on the field, he plays like it is his last. He practices the same way. He lifts weights the same way. And he's truly unique in how much effort goes into the success he has achieved.

"He works hard. He's humble. He keeps his mouth shut," said defensive coordinator Bob Shoop. "You guys have probably seen it; he doesn't enjoy all of the attention. He's kind of turned off by it. He practices hard every day. He's a great teammate. He's a guy who is going to be successful in whatever happens."

A semifinalist for the Bednarik and Rotary Lombardi awards, Nassib has tallied at least one sack in every game this season. He's had more than one sack in five of Penn State's 10 games. He has 4.5 sacks more than the second-highest individual sack total in the nation.

Nassib has also been instrumental in helping the defense notch at least 2.0 sacks in 10 straight games and at least 5.0 tackles for loss in 18 consecutive games.

Congratulations to Nassib for a record-breaking season as the Nittany Lions now prepare for their final two contests of the regular season.

Late Bye Week
After four weeks of training camp and 10 weeks of games, the Nittany Lions are on a much-deserved bye week. Standing at 7-3 overall and 4-2 in Big Ten play, the Lions will finish the season against No. 15 Michigan and No. 14 Michigan State, respectively. The bye comes at a unique time in the program's history. This is the latest a first-bye date has come on Penn State's schedule since 1958 when the team had it's only bye on Nov. 22. In addition to Penn State, Wisconsin is also on a bye this week. Nebraska's is the Big Ten team with the latest bye, with its lone bye coming on Nov. 21.

White-Hot Red Zone Offense Rolls On
The Nittany Lions continued a streak of superb efforts in the red zone on Saturday at Northwestern. During the last seven weeks, Penn State has converted 25 of its last 26 trips inside the 20 into points. For the season, the Lions own a 92 percent conversion rate (33-for-36). The Nittany Lions are ranked 12th nationally and second in the Big Ten in red zone offense through nine games this season.

Barkley Closing on Freshman Records
Following a 120-yard, two-touchdown effort in Saturday's game at Northwestern, true freshman running back Saquon Barkley is now closing in on a host of Penn State freshman rushing records. With four 100-yard performances, Barkley is now one shy of D.J. Dozier's record five in 1983. Additionally, Barkley is now tied with Dozier for the true freshman rushing touchdown record with seven. On the true freshman rushing yardage list, Barkley has 836. That mark is second only to Dozier, who finished with 1,002 yards in 1983.

Barkley has averaged 104.5 yards per game, which is ranked No. 18 in the nation and No. 2 in the Big Ten. He is second nationally in rushing yards by a freshman. Barkley has averaged 6.29 yards per carry this season, which is only second to Ezekiel Elliott's mark of 6.45 yards per carry in the Big Ten.

What's Ahead
The Nittany Lions will have a lighter practice week with it being the bye. Penn State practiced on Sunday, as it normally does, before an abbreviated week. The student-athletes will have some time off from practice towards the end of the week before resuming game preparations on Sunday.

The Lions will finish off their home schedule with a matchup against No. 15 Michigan on Nov. 21. The Wolverines are 7-2 overall and 4-1 in Big Ten play following a 49-16 victory over Rutgers on Saturday. The Michigan game will feature the Penn State White Out, along with Senior Day festivities.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: James Franklin Postgame Press Conference - at Northwestern

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EVANSTON, Ill. - Head coach James Franklin talks with the media following Penn State's 23-21 setback at Northwestern.

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VIDEO: Postgame Player Remarks - at Northwestern

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EVANSTON, Ill. - Hear from several Nittany Lions as they talk with the media following Saturday's 23-21 decision at Northwestern.

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