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Dan Connor sacks Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
Sept. 9, 2007
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the second consecutive week, a member of "Linebacker U" has been honored for his efforts in leading the Penn State defense to an outstanding performance.
Senior All-American Dan Connor (Wallingford) recorded a game-high 12 tackles (8 solo) to lead the Nittany Lions to a 31-10 throttling of Notre Dame and has been selected the Walter Camp Football Foundation's National Defensive Player of the Week and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.
The former Strath Haven High School standout tallied 2.5 tackles for loss (minus-13), including a sack, and a pass break-up, as the Penn State defense put the clamps on the Irish offense to the delight of the frenetic White House crowd of 110,078, second-largest in Beaver Stadium history.
With his 12 stops, Connor moved into fourth all-time on the Penn State career tackles list with 291, passing All-American Dennis Onkotz (1967-69) with 287. Brian Gelzheiser is third at 315. The 12 tackles were the 13th career double-digit tackle game for Connor, who was a 2006 first team All-American by The Sporting News and a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, presented to the nation's top defensive player.
The Big Ten honor is the third of Connor's career. He also was recognized after the Akron and Purdue games in 2006. Last week, junior linebacker Sean Lee (Pittsburgh) was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the 59-0 win over Florida International.
Over the past two seasons, Penn State linebackers Connor, Lee and now-graduated All-America Paul Posluszny have been selected the conference's Defensive Player of the Week five times out of a possible 14 weeks.
In addition to the Camp and conference honors, Connor was one of six players nationally who earned a "helmet sticker" from ESPN's college football studio team for his efforts during the college football weekend.
The Penn State defense held Notre Dame zero rushing yards on 26 carries, recording six sacks for minus-50 yards. The Lions limited ND to 144 yards of total offense, nine first downs and 2 of 16 on third down conversions. After their first drive of the game, the Irish had 97 yards of offense the remainder of the contest. The Irish's zero rushing yards marked the 13th time the Lions have allowed zero or fewer yards under Joe Paterno. For the second straight game seven different Nittany Lions recorded a sack.
In its first two games, the Penn State defense has given up a total of three points and 258 total yards (144 Notre Dame / 114 FIU). The Lions have allowed minus-3 rushing yards on 57 carries, recording 13 sacks for minus-100 yards and have held their first two opponents to 3 of 31 on third down conversions, including 2 of 16 by Notre Dame, and just 16 first downs (nine by ND).
The Nittany Lion defense is again shaping up as one of the nation's best, earning high rankings in at least six national categories. Penn State is No.1 in the nation in rushing defense (minus-1.5 ypg), with Iowa second at 22.5 ypg, and tied for No. 1 in sacks at 6.5 per game, along with Indiana. The Lions are No. 2 in total defense at 129.9 ypg, trailing only Ohio State, and No. 2 in third down conversion defense at 9.7 percent (3 of 31). Wyoming leads, having not allowed a first down on 13 third down plays.
Penn State is No. 6 in scoring defense at 5.0 ppg. Eliminating the seven points that Notre Dame scored on an interception return would bring the Lions into a tie with Iowa for No. 1 at 1.5 ppg. The Lions also are No. 19 in pass efficiency defense with an 84.35 rating.
Coach Joe Paterno's squad concludes its three-game homestand when it meets Buffalo on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. in sold out Beaver Stadium. The teams will be meeting for the first time since 1900. Buffalo (1-1) defeated Temple, 42-7, on Saturday.
The Penn State-Buffalo game will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network. The Big Ten Network is available nationally on Direct TV and DISH Network and nearly 100 cable providers. The official audio broadcast will be available from the Penn State Sports Network as well as on www.GoPSUsports.com, the official website of Penn State Athletics. For more information about the Big Ten Network, go to www.bigtennetwork.com.
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