#4 2013 Michigan-Penn State
As dark of a period as the first five seasons were in the early 2000s, they paled in comparison to what Penn State endured after the NCAA sanctions in 2012. Bill O’Brien replaced interim head coach Tom Bradley at the start of the 2012 season, but he had no idea of what he was stepping into.
After a surprising 8-4 in 2012, the lack of depth from the sanctions really started to take effect in 2013. The Nittany Lions were 3-2 after the first five games of the season, with losses to UCF and Indiana making the Lions look vulnerable to the rest of the Big Ten.
“Whiteouts” have become one of the most celebrated traditions in college football. Surprisingly enough, Penn State’s record in “Whiteout” games is only 10-8, but that’s because those games are usually against the toughest opponent Penn State faces in Happy Valley.
For the 2013 Penn State Whiteout, the #18-ranked Michigan Wolverines would invade Happy Valley. They entered the contest with a perfect 5-0 mark, with a signature win against Notre Dame on their resume.
Penn State had jumped out to a 21-10 first-half lead, behind the three touchdown passes of freshman QB Christian Hackenberg. However, the second half started with a Zach Zwinak fumble that was returned for a touchdown, cutting the Penn State lead to 4 points.
Michigan went on to score 17 more points and had a 10-point lead halfway through the fourth quarter. One of the most beleaguered kickers in Penn State football history, Sam Ficken, snuck a 43-yard field goal just inside the right goal post to make the Michigan lead a touchdown.
The Wolverines were driving deep inside Penn State territory with under a minute left. With a 4th and 17 on the PSU 35, Michigan coach Brady Hoke called for a pooch punt that just went in for a touchback.
50 seconds, no timeouts, true freshman QB in front of 107,884 fans, mostly decked out in all-white. Welcome to major college football!
This drive actually was just one impressive play after another. Allen Robinson showed some of the skills that made him so desirable to the pros with a one-tip-toe foot sideline catch for a first down that was originally called an incompletion but overturned.
Following the overturned call, Hackenberg hit Brandon Felder on a deep out that seemed to go through the hands of a Michigan defender before Felder juggled and then secured it for a 27-yard reception. Hackenberg ran up and spiked the ball with 35 ticks on the clock.
Hack took the snap from the shotgun and let Robinson run down the sideline. The rest was pure Penn State magic.
Hackenberg capped off the drive with a one-yard QB sneak against a Michigan defense that had not given up a rushing touchdown to that point in the season.
The game would go into four overtimes. The fourth overtime included both a 4th and 1 conversion and a 2-yard touchdown run by running back Bill Belton.
Not only will this play live forever in the memory of Penn State fans, but it’s indelibly etched on Allen Robinson’s body.