There were just as many lows waiting for Penn State in the second half of Saturday's 32-23 loss at Nebraska as there were highs in the first half. We break down all of them here.
Zach Zwinak had a huge day on the ground as well as a costly fumble in the loss at Nebraska.
GAME BALL (OFFENSE) - Zach Zwinak, Penn State
The sophomore running back jump-started the offense with a 50-yard touchdown run and finished with a career-high 141 yards on 21 carries. He was one of the few bright spots on a day when most of the offense struggled.
GAME BALL (DEFENSE) - Deion Barnes
The redshirt freshman defensive end had another disruptive afternoon despite sharing reps with Pete Massaro, recording several tackles for loss and playing well against the run and the pass.
GAME BALL (SPECIAL TEAMS) - Sam Ficken, Penn State
The sophomore kicker, who has turned his season around, was 3-for-3 on field goals Saturday, all in pressure situations, on a day when gusting winds made every kick an adventure.
PLAY OF THE GAME - Penn State tight end Matt Lehman lost the ball around the same time he crossed the goal line late in the fourth quarter. Had the play been ruled a touchdown, Penn State would have taken a 29-27 lead (extra point pending). It was ruled a fumble and touchback, though, and officials upheld the ruling after review.
BEST PASS - Nebraska's [bTaylor Martinez[/b] rolled away from pressure and found Jamal Turner for a strike on 3rd-and-long on the Huskers' first offensive series.
WORST PASS - Matt McGloin fired an ill-advised pass to a covered receiver and was picked off by Daimion Stafford, who returned the ball to Penn State's 4-yard line.
BEST RUN - Zach Zwinak got no resistance going through the line and beat every Nebraska defender to the end zone for a 50-yard touchdown on the fourth play of the game.
WORST DROP - Brandon Moseby-Felder had a pass right in his hands on a 3rd-and-3 in the first quarter and could not hold on.
BEST KICK - With a strong wind at his back, Nebraska's Brett Maher nailed a 69-yard punt that bounced out-of-bounds at the Penn State 2-yard line late in the fourth quarter.
WORST KICK - A shanked 16-yard punt by Nebraska's Brett Maher went out-of-bounds and put Penn State in position to tack on three more points near the end of the first half.
WORST FUMBLE - Nebraska's Tim Marlowe muffed a punt and Penn State's Mike Hull was there to pounce on it late in the second quarter. The Nittany Lions went on to score their second touchdown of the day on the drive.
BEST RETURN - Jesse Della Valle had a 26-yard return on the game's opening kickoff, one of the few instances where a Nittany Lion return man had room to operate Saturday.
BEST HIT - Penn State cornerback Adrian Amos rocked wide receiver Jamal Turner, preventing what would have been a third-down conversion in the final minutes of the first half.
BEST SACK - Nebraska's Cameron Meredith forced McGloin to throw the ball (inside the tackle box) from his own end zone well short of his intended receiver, leading to a safety for the Cornhuskers.
BEST CALL - Bill O'Brien went to one of his favorite plays late in the second quarter, lining tight end Jesse James up in the backfield, then sending him to the sideline, where Matt McGloin found him for a 10-yard touchdown.
WORST CALL - Officials ruled that Penn State tight end Matt Lehman had fumbled the ball before it broke the plane for a touchdown, then upheld that ruling despite a fairly evident sideline replay.
HEADS UP AWARD - Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti had the presence to go for the strip while tackling Martinez on a 3rd-and-goal play early in the fourth quarter. Jacob Fagnano recovered the fumble for the Nittany Lions.
MOST TELLING STATISTIC - 26-3 Nebraska's scoring edge in the second half. The Nittany Lions were out-played in every phase in the second half by Nebraska, which has been a second-half team this season. The start of the third quarter, as it was in losses to Ohio and Ohio State, was once again a problem for Penn State, and the Nittany Lions were never able to regain the momentum.
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