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Penn State’s Season Stats Rank Among Nation’s Best

After opening the season with a last-second win against Central Florida in Dublin in the Croke Park Classic, Penn State cruised to a win over Akron, needed a patented Hackenberg comeback drive ™ late in the game to edge Rutgers, and dominated UMass from start to finish.

While they’ve been far from perfect, the Nittany Lions are 4-0 and off to their best start in six seasons.

With the thrilling start, the team has posted some impressive numbers, albeit against some inferior talent (I’m looking at you, UMass). Here’s a look at some of the most notable accomplishments of the young season.

Team/Head Coach

  • James Franklin is the first head coach in team history to start 4-0 in his first season since Dick Harlow in 1915.
  • Dating back to last season, the team’s five-game winning streak is tied for sixth-longest in the nation and tied with Nebraska for the longest in the Big Ten.
  • Home attendance is up an average of 5,395 fans through the first two games of the season compared to the first two games of 2013.
  • Penn State is one of the 25 remaining undefeated teams in the FBS and ranks No. 27 in the AP and Coaches Polls.

Offense

  • The Penn State passing attack ranks 10th in the nation with 1,318 yards, outpacing notable teams such as No. 12 Baylor (1,248), No. 18 South Carolina (1,140), and No. 20 Ole Miss (1,094).
  • Christian Hackenberg, QB — Hackenberg leads the Big Ten in passing yards (1,261) and passing yards per game (315.3 YPG). He ranks eighth nationally in yards and 13th in yards per game.
  • Geno Lewis, WR — Lewis leads the Big Ten in receiving yards (462) and yards per game (115.5). The junior wideout ranks seventh nationally in receiving yards and 11th in yards per game.
  • DaeSean Hamilton, WR — Hamilton ranks second behind Lewis in the Big Ten in receiving yards (402) and 14th nationally. His 7.5 receptions per game lead the Big Ten and rank 13th in the nation. The Fredericksburg, Va., native was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week for breaking the school’s freshman record for receptions and receiving yards in a game in Penn State’s win over Central Florida in Dublin. He also became the first Penn State freshman to eclipse 100 yards receiving in a game since 2005.

Defense

  • The Nittany Lions rank first in the nation in rushing defense, allowing 198 yards in four games and limiting opposing ball carriers to 1.75 yards per rush.
  • Penn State is sixth nationally and first in the Big Ten in scoring defense (11.0 ppg)
  • It’s 10th nationally in total defense (270.8 ypg)
  • The defense ranks eighth nationally in red zone defense, with opponents scoring at a 63.6 percent rate on visits inside the 20-yard line.
  • Anthony Zettel, DT — Zettel leads the Big Ten and is 12th in the nation with 1.8 tackles for loss per game, and is first in Big Ten and 12th nationally with 7 total tackles for loss.
  • Trevor Williams, DB — Williams was named the Big Ten Player of the Week for a two-interception, five-tackle performance in win over Rutgers.

Special Teams (“Wefense”)

  • Sam Ficken, K — Ficken is ninth in the nation and first in the Big Ten in field goals made per game with two. His .889 field goal percentage ranks fourth in the nation for kickers with eight or more attempts. He was also named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week for career-high four field goals and a game-winning kick as time expired in the win over Central Florida.
  • Grant Haley, DB — The freshman from Atlanta ranks 41st in the nation in kickoff return yards, averaging 24.6 yards per return.

About the Author

CJ Doon

CJ is a senior journalism major from Long Island and Onward State's Sports Editor. He is a third-generation Penn Stater, and his grandfather wrestled for the university back in the 1930s under coach Charlie “Doc” Speidel. Besides writing, one of his favorite activities is making sea puns. You can follow him on Twitter @CJDoon, and send your best puns to [email protected], just for the halibut.

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