STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - The special teams problems that cost Penn State in its loss to Nebraska went beyond a couple of missed kicks.
Sam Ficken missed an extra point in the first quarter and a 37-yard field goal attempt in overtime as the Nittany Lions lost 23-20 on Saturday.
Ficken's overtime miss wasn't a game-winning attempt, but it allowed Nebraska to keep the ball in the middle of the field during its ensuing possession and give kicker Pat Smith a chance to win it with a 42-yard boot - which he did.
''You feel for a guy like that,'' Smith said about his kicking counterpart. ''You're not wishing for the worst for that guy.
Penn State also allowed Kenny Bell to return a kickoff 99 yards for a score in the third quarter and had a punt blocked. In the last five games, Penn State's kickoff return team has allowed 511 return yards and two touchdowns on 17 kickoffs.
''Offensively, we did well in some spots but in some spots we didn't do as well,'' coach Bill O'Brien said. ''We didn't hold up our end of the bargain. The defense played a good game but it's a team game and we lost as a team.''
The Lions (6-6, 3-4) outgained Nebraska (8-3, 5-2) from the line of scrimmage 387-360 and had one less turnover.
Ficken has had an up-and-down career at Penn State. He was 14 for 21 in field goal attempts last year, but kicked well down the stretch after a horrendous start to the season. This season, he is 14 for 20.
''It's never one person's fault,'' Penn State fullback Pat Zerbe said. ''Sam is a great kicker and I know he played as hard as he could. We all played as hard as we could, so it is not his fault at all.''
Penn State tight end Jesse James, who had a 46-yard touchdown reception, is one of Ficken's roommates.
''Sam's a tough kid,'' James said. ''He already knows how it works. He's had tough games before and he's had great games. He's been through a lot. He'll bounce back.''
Penn State will have to win at No. 14 Wisconsin (9-2) on Saturday son to avoid a .500 season. The Lions beat the Badgers in overtime on a Ficken kick in last year's season finale and improve to 8-4 in O'Brien's rookie year.
''Our team realizes that we still have one more game,'' offensive tackle Garry Gilliam said. ''You could still see (in the locker room) in everyone's eyes that we've got to fight and get our seventh win here.''

Recent NCAAF Discussions

2017 Heisman Odds on Wed, Mar 2017 by Blade
College / NBA today on Sun, Mar 2017 by TtomBoBadly
SNOW on Tue, Mar 2017 by Michael Cash
EARLY COLL PLAYS FOR WED. on Wed, Mar 2017 by Timmy1961

NCAAF Headlines

NCAAF Top Stories

Thumbnail Updated National Championship Odds With over five months before kickoff of the new season, is Alabama still favored to win it all in 2018?
Thumbnail VA Tech opens as favorites vs WVU Some of the Week 1 lines have been released for college football and Virginia Tech has opened as a small favorite versus West Virginia.
Thumbnail Stanford QB on track for camp Stanford head coach David Shaw said that quarterback Keller Chryst is "right on schedule" for training camp.
Thumbnail Clemson has big challenge this spring The biggest question the defending national champion Clemson Tigers face this spring is who will replace leader Deshaun Watson at...

NCAAF Team Pages