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Friday, January 1, 2010
Instant analysis: Penn State 19, LSU 17

By Chris Low

A quick look at Penn State’s 19-17 victory over LSU on Friday in the Capital One Bowl:

How the game was won: Penn State took advantage of a lethargic and turnover-prone LSU offense and put together a 12-play drive in the final minutes of the game that ended with Collin Wagner’s game-winning 21-yard field goal with 57 seconds to play. The Tigers turned the ball over three times and were held to 243 yards of total offense. They went nearly three quarters with only three points before making a late charge to take a 17-16 lead.

Turning point: After Wagner’s three points the Tigers still had a chance and moved into Penn State territory. But an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on LSU’s Lyle Hitt killed any hope of winning it on a field goal and moved the Tigers back to their own 40.

Stat of the game: LSU had more penalties (10) than first downs (nine). The Tigers also had more penalty yards (64) than rushing yards (41).

Player of the game: In his final game at LSU, senior receiver Brandon LaFell had five catches for 87 yards. His 24-yard touchdown catch ignited the Tigers’ charge at the end of the third quarter.

What it means: The Tigers (9-4) had their four-game winning streak in bowl games snapped. Les Miles had previously never lost in the postseason at LSU. But he’ll surely be answering questions all offseason about an offense that never found an identity this year and that just wasn’t very good. There were problems in the offensive line. Key injuries played a role, and sophomore quarterback Jordan Jefferson showed some glaring growing pains of being a first-year starting quarterback in the SEC and was also limited by an ankle. The Tigers lost this game despite allowing just one touchdown. It was reminiscent of the Florida game earlier this season in Baton Rouge. If they’re going to get back to the top of the SEC hierarchy, they will have to improve dramatically on offense next season. Once again, the Tigers had clock management issues on offense. LSU has now lost nine games in the last two seasons. That’s after losing only 10 in the five seasons prior.