Friday, January 1, 2010
Instant analysis: Penn State 19, LSU 17
By ESPN.com staff
The Big Ten finally won a close one, and a critical one at that. Penn State's seniors cemented a successful legacy by engineering a huge win against No. 12 LSU in the Capital One Bowl. The Big Ten evens its bowl record at 2-2 heading into the Daddy.
How the game was won: Penn State seemed to be in command at halftime, as LSU managed only two first downs on a sloppy track. But the Tigers rallied late in the third quarter to claim a 17-16 lead in the closing minutes. It set things up for Penn State senior quarterback Daryll Clark, a school record holder who lacked a true signature win on his résumé. Clark led the winning drive and kicker Collin Wagner kicked his fourth field goal in awful conditions as Penn State prevailed. LSU once again mismanaged the clock and committed a crucial penalty in the final minute.
Turning point: After losing a 13-point lead, Penn State took possession at its own 31-yard line with 6:54 remaining. But Clark led an immensely clutch drive, completing 3 of 3 passes for 33 yards and making several clutch runs. Penn State converted two third downs and marched to the LSU 4-yard before Wagner came up big again. The Lions also took nearly six minutes off of the clock.
Player of the game: Wagner. Yes, I know he's the kicker, but did you see that playing surface? The field conditions were a huge story in this game, and Wagner went 4-for-4 on field goals. An honorable mention goes to Clark, who didn't have great numbers but came up big when it mattered most. Linebacker Sean Lee also stepped up.
Stat of the game: Penn State's defense dominated for most of the way, holding LSU to nine first downs, 243 total yards and only 41 rushing yards. The Lions offense did its part by holding the ball for 38:21.
What it means: Penn State finally notched a signature win and sent a successful senior class out on a high note. The Lions won 11 games for the second consecutive season and claimed their fourth bowl victory in the last five seasons. They also kept pace with a supposedly faster LSU team, as the defense shut down the Tigers for most of the way. Clark finishes his career as one of the best quarterbacks in team history. Joe Paterno added to his NCAA record bowl victories total. The Lions now head into a potential rebuilding season, though their recent recruiting success likely will prevent a big drop-off.