STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - An emotional pregame scene and regulation, fittingly wasn't enough for the Nittany Lions in their 24-21 overtime victory against Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon inside Beaver Stadium. The two teams managed to do more of the scoring in the first and fourth quarters before Sam Ficken's 37-yard field goal pushed the Blue and White ahead in overtime and Wisconsin kicker Kyle French's kick sailed wide left to cap one of the most memorable seasons in Penn State history.
Zach Zwinak entered the night with 821 rushing yards on the season and carried the bulk of the load for Penn State (8-4, 6-2 Big Ten) offense. The sophomore compiled 179 yards on 36 carries, scored the first touchdown of the game for PSU and dove in for a pivotal two-point conversion in the fourth quarter. A career-high 179 yards pushed the running back to 1,000 rushing yards on the year and gives Penn State a 1,000-yard rusher for the eighth-straight season. He also made three catches for five yards on the night.
His 179 rushing yards were the most by a running back against Wisconsin this season and it marked his sixth 100-yard rushing effort on the season. It was his fourth such effort in a row and makes him just the 13th player in Penn State history with six or more100-yard rushing efforts in the same season.
Ficken was three-for-three on the evening, pushing his consecutive field goals made streak to 10, including the eventual game winner in overtime. The sophomore connected on kicks of 23-, 32- and 37-yards to end the season 15-of-21 in field goals.
In his final game under center, Matt McGloin, fighting the cold, snow and swirling winds, had another solid night through the air. The senior was 19-of-37 for 200 yards and a touchdown, including a 41-yard touchdown pass to Jesse James in the fourth quarter. McGloin closed his career with 10-straight 200-yard passing games and threw a touchdown pass in every game this season.
McGloin ended his career ranked No. 1 in program history in career passing touchdowns (46), season completions (270), season attempts (446), season passing yardage (3,266) and tied for No. 1 in season passing touchdowns (24) with Daryll Clark. He also owns the school standard for consecutive 200-yard passing games, as 10-straight, career 200-yard passing games (18) and career 300-yard passing games (six).
Allen Robinson made a game-high four catches for 35 yards, pushing his season total to 77 catches for 1,013 yards. His reception total is tops in a single season at Penn State and his yardage total of 1,013 is No. 3 in PSU history. Jesse James made three catches for a career-high 90 yards and his fifth scoring grab of the year.
Jordan Hill had a monster night, with a career-best 12 tackles, three tackles for loss and two of Penn State's three sacks. The senior stepped up when his team needed it most, providing eight tackles, two TFL and one sack in the fourth quarter or overtime. Glenn Carson led the charge on defense with 13 tackles, one shy of his career-high set at Nebraska this season, and Jacob Fagnano made five stops and picked off Wisconsin's Curt Phillips in the fourth quarter to thwart a potential scoring drive.
The Nittany Lion defense allowed just 145 yards of total offense in the second half - limiting the Badgers to just 17 yards in the third quarter - which allowed the offense to gain 232 yards of offense in the final two quarters and watched as the Badgers field goal attempt sailed wide left to clinch the overtime victory.
Wisconsin was the first team to score a touchdown on the Penn State defense in the first quarter this season when Phillips connected with Melvin Gordon on a 57-yard strike down the sideline to open the scoring. After Zwinak punched one in from three yards out, Montee Ball scampered 17 yards into the end zone to make it 14-7 with over six minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The defenses clamped down in the second and third quarter, with Ficken making two field goals to make the score 14-13 entering the fourth quarter.
James caught the 41-yard scoring strike from McGloin down the home sideline and Zwinak went up the middle and dove in for the two-point conversion to make it a seven-point game early in the fourth quarter.
Trailing by seven with 3:51 left in the game, Wisconsin drove 66 yards on 14 plays and Phillips found Jeff Duckworth for the four-yard touchdown pass with just 18 ticks left on the clock.
Wisconsin won the toss in overtime and elected to play defense first and a nine-yard run by Zwinak was the only yardage the Blue and White would gain. Ficken stepped in and snuck a 37-yard attempt inside the left upright. After a one-yard run by Ball opened the Wisconsin drive, Sean Stanley sacked Phillips for a loss of three yards and an incomplete pass made it fourth-and-12 from the 27 yard line. French lined up the field goal, but pushed the kick wide left and the Nittany Lions earned the hard-fought victory.