Not many prognosticators gave the Penn State Nittany Lions a chance for victory this Saturday against the No. 18 Michigan Wolverines. After last week’s dismal performance against the Indiana Hoosiers (a 44-24 loss), it looked as though the rest of the 2013 season would serve as a learning experience for quarterback Christian Hackenberg.
However, Saturday night against the Wolverines proved to be the defining moment for the true freshman. With Beaver Stadium rocking a “white out,” Hackenberg stepped up and had his best performance of the season in leading the Nittany Lions to a stunning 43-40 four-overtime victory.
Hackenberg completed 23-of-44 passes for 304 with three touchdowns and two interceptions. The freshman showed poise and maturity in the pocket and led the Nittany Lions back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit. The Wolverines constantly pressured Hackenberg, but the freshman was “cold as ice” and continued to throw strikes to his wide receivers.
With 50 seconds left on the clock and the Nittany Lions trailing by seven points, Hackenberg was at his best. He was 3-for-3 for 79 yards passing and culminated the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
Hackenberg has shown he can overcome adversity and has the tools to become a top-tier quarterback in the Big 10.
Penn State moved to 4-2 on the season. The Nittany Lions will have no time to celebrate as the team travels on the road to face the No. 4-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. Michigan fell to 5-1 and will return home to battle the Indiana Hoosiers.