The good, the bad, the B1G: Penn State 26, UCF 24

The good, the bad, the B1G: Penn State 26, UCF 24
August 30, 2014, 4:15 pm
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Vinnie Duber

Penn State opened its season with a 26-24 win over UCF on Saturday in Ireland. Here's the good, the bad and the B1G from the Nittany Lions' victory.

The good

— Christian Hackenberg looked really, really good ... for the most part. There was only one touchdown pass, and there plenty of questionable choices made as the game hung in the balance in the second half, but for the most part Hackenberg looked like the type of quarterback who could be one of the conference's best this season. He made plenty of throws that not many others can make, and he had a few deep balls to wideouts that were placed right on the money. The sophomore finished with a whopping 454 yards, though just that one TD and a pair of interceptions. Was it a perfect game? Oh, heck no. But Hackenberg flashed the talent that's made him the darling of NFL scouts and the type of guy who could lead Penn State to a few victories by himself this year.

— The James Franklin Era begins with a win, and that's surely what matters most as the Lions return from Ireland. It was scary at times, it was sloppy at times, and they were losing at times. But in the end, Sam Ficken nailed the game-winning field goal as time expired, and Franklin and his team ran onto the field in ecstasy. Remember, Penn State lost to UCF last season, and the way the Nittany Lions played in the second half, getting a win was no certainty. To get it is a big deal and a big start for Franklin.

[MORE BIG TEN: The good, the bad, the B1G: Illini 28, Youngstown State 17]

The bad

— UCF sent out a different quarterback in the second half than the first, and it was the main reason UCF made it a battle down the stretch, leading with fewer than two minutes on the clock. But there were other reasons. The Penn State offense had an unfortunate habit of getting down the field only to stall out. The team's first TD came after a few point-blank tries by running back Zack Zwinak. After that, there was settling for field goals and otherwise just not getting in the end zone. It could have been a much bigger deficit by the time UCF figures things out. Instead there wasn't, and that's the major reason the Lions were sweating late. Is it a one-game thing or a persistent problem? We'll find out.

— Penn State's defense was awesome through 30 minutes, making up plenty for the not-so-high-powered first-half offense. But once UCF made that quarterback change — opting for Justin Holman over Pete DiNovo — things went downhill in a hurry. Holman finished with 204 yards and a touchdown on just nine completions. He was super-effective in the second half, and the Penn State D allowed him to be.

[MORE BIG TEN: The good, the bad, the B1G: Spartans 45, Jacksonville State 7]

The B1G

— Have you seen Geno Lewis' circus catch? I mean, have you seen this? It's spectacular.