In a somewhat shocking upset, the Penn State Nittany Lions were defeated for the first time ever, 44-24, by the Indiana Hoosiers. Despite the loss, true freshman Christian Hackenberg put up huge numbers and stayed away from any turnovers. Hackenberg continued to show growth and tried everything he could to make his team victorious.
Entering the game, Indiana had the worst rush defense in the Big Ten Conference. Due to that, it was expected that the Nittany Lions would be able to use their effective three-man running attack and run all over the Hoosiers. However, that was not the case, and there was more pressure on the passing attack. Penn State managed just 70 total yards on the ground.
The Nittany Lions were behind for much of the game, meaning that Hackenberg was forced to go to the air more than usual. The young signal-caller had a career-high 55 attempts. His previous high for attempts was 35.
While his completion percentage was unimpressive at 54 percent, he still had a solid game. Hackenberg threw for a career-high 340 yards and three touchdowns. Though his accuracy was a problem at times, he showed the arm strength that made him a top prospect coming out of high school.
Watching Hackenberg command the Penn State offense makes it easy to forge that he’s a true freshman and just five games into his collegiate career. Sure, he’s young and still makes rookie mistakes, but it’s all part of the growing process. Against Indiana, though his accuracy could have been better, he did protect the ball by not turning it over.
Though the outcome at Indiana was not what anyone at Penn State wanted, there’s hope in the fact that the Nittany Lions have clearly found their starting quarterback for the next few seasons. On a day without many positives for Penn State, Hackenberg shone and put up big numbers in a losing effort.
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