Miss football already? You can re-experience the Nittany Lions’ 2013 season through the best of our staff’s photos on the year.
Bill O’Brien marshals his Nittany Lions as they prepare to storm out of the gates — facing the Syracuse Orange in Penn State’s season opener at Metlife Stadium. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) Christian Hackenberg was O’Brien’s first commit for the 2013 recruiting class — a commitment that didn’t waver even after the NCAA sanctioned the football program. Against Syracuse on August 31, the true freshman completed 22-of-31 passes for 278 yards with two touchdowns and two picks on the way to a 23-17 season-opening win. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) Wide receiver Geno Lewis, a redshirt freshman, caught Hackenberg’s second career touchdown pass — a 54-yard bomb that gave Penn State a 23-10 lead over Syracuse in the fourth quarter. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) The 2013 team sings the Alma Mater after its first victory on the season (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) Nittanyville campers prepare to storm Gate A for Penn State’s home opener against Eastern Michigan. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) Tailback Zach Zwinak gashes a hapless Eastern Michigan defense for a big run. The Eagles were no match for Penn State’s ground attack, which accumulated 251 yards and five touchdowns on 39 carries. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) Zwinak scores his first of two touchdowns on the day from two yards out, erasing Eastern Michigan’s only lead of that game. The Nittany Lions would end the day in a 45-7 rout of the Eagles. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) Young cornerbacks Trevor Williams (left) and Jordan Lucas (right) celebrate a quality defensive performance in which the Nittany Lions limited Eastern Michigan to just 122 passing yards and 183 total yards. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) Nittanyville declared a whiteout — the first of two on the season — for Penn State’s game against UCF. Pictured above is Nittanyville President Allen Sheffield, who, along with his fellow campers, enforced Penn State’s home field advantage against the visiting Black Knights. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) Beaver Stadium is the toughest Big Ten stadium to play in, according to B1G players, and for good reason. “I’ve never heard a stadium that loud,” said an anonymous player — and Penn State’s student section plays no small role in creating this home field advantage. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) Master Chief, evidently a Nittany Lions fan, was one of many students in attendance during Penn State’s game against UCF. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) Allen Robinson sheds a tackler on his way to a big first half gain against the UCF secondary. He finished the game with nine catches for 143 yards and a score — after accumulating at least 129 yards and a score in each of the Lions’ first two games. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) Despite Robinson’s early success, Penn State found itself trailing UCF after two quarters of play, 21-10. Pictured above is Bill O’Brien leading his team out of the tunnel at the beginning of the second half, hoping to erase that deficit. Unfortunately, the Lions were unable to overtake a talented Black Knights squad led by quarterback Blake Bortles, a top NFL prospect. Penn State dropped to 2-1 with the 34-31 loss. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) Sloppy play in sloppy weather characterized Penn State’s 34-0 shutout of Kent State. Hackenberg posted his worst performance of his career to that point, completing just 13 of 35 attempts for 176 yards, a touchdown, and a pick. A win is a win, though. Penn State finished its non-conference slate with a 3-1 record, facing its first conference opponent of the season, Indiana, on the road at Bloomington. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) If Kent State was supposed to be Penn State’s bounce-back game, Indiana was its regression. The Nittany Lions — and their beleaguered defense — suffered a painful 44-24 loss to the Hoosiers despite 173 yards and two touchdowns (on 12 catches) from Allen Robinson. (Photo by Grant Brown.) The Lions’ thrashing at the hands of the Hoosiers was followed by a Homecoming weekend matchup against the then 18th-ranked Michigan Wolverines. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) Homecoming kicks off with a salute between the Lion and the Drum Major. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) Cheerleaders sport pink bows to raise awareness for breast cancer as they wait for the team to exit the tunnel. (Photo by Bobby Chen) A Jordan Lucas pick of Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner set up this 12-yard score by Brandon Felder — kicking off the scoring in a game for the ages. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) The Nittany Lions’ front seven pressured Gardner all night long, recording three sacks of the Wolverines QB — two by defensive end C.J. Olaniyan and one by linebacker Glenn Carson. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) Defensive end Anthony Zettel picks off Gardner early in the second quarter on a zone blitz, returning the interception to the Michigan 20-yard line. Immediately after, Hackenberg would hit tight end Jesse James for a 20-yard score, giving Penn State a 14-10 lead. The Lions’ would close out the half with a 21-10 lead over the Wolverines. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) That lead lasted all of 10 seconds into the third quarter, as a Zwinak fumble was scooped up by Michigan’s Frank Clark for a 24-yard return touchdown. Both teams would trade field goals — with Penn State leading 24-20 — but Michigan then scored 14 unanswered points to take its largest lead of the night, 34-24, at the start of the fourth. A Sam Ficken field goal cut the deficit to seven but the ensuing Michigan drive burned five minutes and 45 seconds off the clock, leaving Penn State with just 50 seconds to drive 80 yards for the tying score. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) With the game clock reading 00:50, Hackenberg first completed a 14-yard pass to Robinson, then a 29-yard pass to Felder to bring the Lions to the Michigan 37-yard line. Then this happened. The Catch. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) Robinson’s leaping grab at the 1-yard line set up a Christian Hackenberg quarterback sneak for the tying touchdown. Above, two cheerleaders celebrate the start of an improbable Nittany Lions comeback. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) Penn State mic man Eugene Bodden leads one last “We Are” cheer before a thrilling four-overtime series, which ended with a 43-40 Penn State upset victory over the Wolverines. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) “For the glory of Old State,” sings the Penn State football team after an emphatic first conference win over the Michigan Wolverines. What a Homecoming weekend that was. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) Penn State’s momentum after the Michigan game didn’t carry through to its matchup against Ohio State at the Horseshoe. Above, Zach Zwinak watches on — after being benched for fumble-itis — as his team suffers a 63-14 loss to the Buckeyes. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) The Lions, bruised but not defeated, returned home for a significantly easier matchup against Illinois. The game was also a “Gold Out” in support of THON — the Nittany Lion, picture above, sported a gold ribbon in honor of pediatric cancer patients. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) Prior to the Illinois game, Sam Ficken had converted 11-of-15 field goal attempts. He would make one and miss one in what would become a close overtime victory over the Illini. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) Bill Belton, starting over the fumble-prone Zach Zwinak, pushes a pile of Illini defenders. The tailback rushed for 201 yards and a score on the day — the first 200-yard performance by a Nittany Lion since Larry Johnson in 2002. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) Two young Lions-in-training at the Illinois game. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but Penn State managed to come out on top after Ryan Keiser’s game-ending pick of the Illini’s Nathan Scheelhaase. The 24-17 overtime victory gave the Nittany Lions their second conference win on the season, lifting their overall record to 5-3. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) Penn State’s secondary celebrates Ryan Keiser’s clutch overtime interception. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) Penn State followed its win over Illinois with a dud — a 24-10 loss to Minnesota on the road. Despite the loss, Allen Robinson didn’t seem too shaken going into the game against Purdue. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) The Purdue game was declared Military Appreciation Day. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) Three ROTC students carefully fold the American flag prior to kickoff. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) Penn State’s cheerleaders sing along to the National Anthem. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) Against Purdue, true freshman tight end Adam Breneman scores his first career touchdown on an 8-yard pass from Christian Hackenberg. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) Feature twirler Matt Freeman performs during the halftime show alongside his fiancee, majorette Meredith Semion. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) Zach Zwinak, who would finish the game with 149 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, carries the Lions to 45-21 blowout victory over the Boilermakers. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) Poor tackling technique might have contributed to Penn State’s success on the ground against Purdue. Next up? Penn State’s last home game of the season against Nebraska. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) Penn State celebrated Senior Day before it faced the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Pictured above is tight end Matt Lehman with his wife and family. Lehman had sat out much of the season with an injury. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) Matt Freeman embraces his fiancee during the final home game of his twirling career. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) A snowsquall greets Bill O’Brien and his team as they rush out of the gates to face Nebraska. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) It was a trumpets and snow fall kind of day at Beaver Stadium during the Senior Day matchup against the Cornhuskers. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) Penn State’s much-maligned secondary prepares to face a Nebraska offense that was missing star quarterback Taylor Martinez. It would limit the Cornhuskers’ passers to 192 yards on the day. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) Defensive end C.J. Olaniyan recovers his own sack-fumble of Cornhuskers quarterback Ron Kellogg III. (Photo by Bobby Chen.) Early in the fourth quarter, Christian Hackenberg found tight end Jesse James for a 46-yard score to take a 20-17 lead over the Cornhuskers. Nebraska would respond with a field goal with just over four minutes left to play — a tying score that would lead Penn State to its third and final overtime game of the season. It would end on a heartbreaking note, though. On Penn State’s first overtime possession, Sam Ficken missed from 37 yards out, allowing Nebraska to win on a 42-yard field goal, 23-20. (Photo by Mitchell Wilston.) Traveling to Madison, Wisconsin for its final game of the season, Penn State seemed to be facing certain defeat against the 15th-ranked Badgers. Christian Hackenberg and co. would prove the haters wrong — the freshman quarterback posted the best performance of his young career, completing 21-of-30 pass attempts for 339 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. On the other side of the ball, the Nittany Lions defense limited Wisconsin’s vaunted rushing attack, which had 297.8 yards per game, to just 120 yards. The Nittany Lions closed out their 2013 season with a 31-24 upset victory over the Badgers, clinching a second winning season for second-year head coach Bill O’Brien. (Photo by Kevin Horne.)
Here’s to a great season, Penn State. WE ARE! (Photo by Bobby Chen.)