Highlights: Olaniyan’s return dooms Wisconsin
MADISON, Wis. – Following are the highlights and lowlights from Penn State’s 31-24 victory over Wisconsin on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium:
Play of the game: With the Nittany Lions up 21-14 in the third quarter, Penn State freshman linebacker Brandon Bell jarred the ball loose from Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave, and it was caught in the air and returned 33 yards by C.J. Olaniyan to the Badgers’ 19. The turnover set up a field goal and a two-score lead from which Wisconsin never recovered.
Offensive player of the game: Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg completed 21-of-30 for 339 yards and four touchdowns. He was not intercepted or sacked.
Defensive player of the game: Olaniyan was credited with three tackles, the returned fumble/interception, and three QB hurries.
Most telling statistic: The longest run from scrimmage by the vaunted Badger ground game, on 30 rushes, was 14 yards.
Most deceiving statistic: Wisconsin racked up 27 first downs to PSU’s 13.
Best run: Zach Zwinak, held in check most of the game, popped a late 61-yard third-down draw that helped the Lions melt the clock.
Best pass: Hackenberg connected with Geno Lewis for a 59-yard touchdown pass that gave the Nittany Lions a 31-14 lead with 12:59 remaining.
Worst pass: Stave was off early and twice overthrew an open Jared Abbrederis, who was behind the Nit secondary, in the first quarter.
Best catch: Jesse James reached over Wisconsin safety Dezmen Southward for a 7-yard touchdown quarter that gave the Lions a 21-14 lead with 8:29 left in the third quarter.
Catch it, will ya: Lewis dropped a well-thrown bomb that would have been his third TD and would have given the Lions a 38-21 lead with five minutes left. Allen Robinson and Kyle Carter also missed catchable balls.
Hold it, won’t ya: Penn State did not fumble.
Best block: Robinson hustled to help free Richy Anderson’s 11-yard chain-mover in the first half.
Best tackle: With the Lions up 31-14, Anthony Zettel beat Wisconsin tackle Tyler Marz for a sack in the fourth quarter.
Best kick: Wisconsin’s Jack Russell nailed a 48-yard field goal with 4:13 left, pulling the Badgers within 31-24.
Worst kick: Sam Ficken missed a 31-yard field goal with 31 seconds left that would have iced the game.
Best call: On third-and-2 in four-down territory at the Wisconsin 31, with less than three minutes left in the first half, Bill O’Brien ordered up a fake reverse, and Hackenberg threw deep to Lewis, who drew a pass interference penalty. The sequence led to the Lions’ game-tying (14-14) score.
Best read: Hackenberg alertly saw nobody was on Lewis, and before Wisconsin could be granted a timeout, he got the snap off and threw a 3-yard TD to Lewis, tying the game at 14 with 1:16 left in the half.
Worst call: Was surprised the Badgers, tied at 14-14 early in the third quarter, settled for a draw on third-and-long from their own 24.
Worst penalty(s): Leading 7-0, Penn State drove to the Wisconsin 11 and faced fourth-and-1 before not one but two right-side tackles, Adam Gress and Eric Shrive, jumped, forcing a field-goal attempt that was blocked. Penn State’s O-linemen weren’t finished as each one of them was called for a false start.
Best effort: Adam Breneman broke a tackle en route to his 68-yard game-opening touchdown.
Unsung hero: PSU sophomore cornerback Trevor Williams, playing for an injured Adrian Amos (foot), picked off a pass and returned it 33 yards and was credited with three stops.