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Nebraska edges Penn State, 23-20, in overtime

Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Nebraska kicker Pat Smith celebrates his 42-yard field goal in overtime that defeated Penn State, 23-20, on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Nebraska kicker Pat Smith celebrates his 42-yard field goal in overtime that defeated Penn State, 23-20, on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State tight end Adam Breneman celebrates his first-quarter touchdown pass against Nebraska on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State tight end Adam Breneman celebrates his first-quarter touchdown pass against Nebraska on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State safety Malcolm Willis forces a fumble by Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah in the end zone during the second quarter Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State safety Malcolm Willis forces a fumble by Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah in the end zone during the second quarter Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State kicker Sam Ficken reacts after missing a 37-yard field goal in overtime against Nebraska on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State kicker Sam Ficken reacts after missing a 37-yard field goal in overtime against Nebraska on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State kicker Sam Ficken reacts after missing a 37-yard field goal in overtime as Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste celebrates Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State kicker Sam Ficken reacts after missing a 37-yard field goal in overtime as Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste celebrates Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State tight end Adam Breneman catches a first-quarter touchdown pass against Nebraska on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State tight end Adam Breneman catches a first-quarter touchdown pass against Nebraska on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Nebraska's Pat Smith kicks a 42-yard field goal in overtime to defeat Penn State, 23-20, on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Nebraska's Pat Smith kicks a 42-yard field goal in overtime to defeat Penn State, 23-20, on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Nebraska kicker Pat Smith (94) and his teammates celebrate his 42-yard field goal in overtime that defeated Penn State, 23-20, on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Nebraska kicker Pat Smith (94) and his teammates celebrate his 42-yard field goal in overtime that defeated Penn State, 23-20, on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Nebraska kicker Pat Smith celebrates his 42-yard field goal in overtime that defeated Penn State, 23-20, on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Nebraska kicker Pat Smith celebrates his 42-yard field goal in overtime that defeated Penn State, 23-20, on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State's Jesse Della Valle returns a first-quarter punt 25 yards against Nebraska on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State's Jesse Della Valle returns a first-quarter punt 25 yards against Nebraska on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State defensive end C.J. Olaniyan forces a fumble by Nebraska's Ron Kellogg III in the third quarter Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State defensive end C.J. Olaniyan forces a fumble by Nebraska's Ron Kellogg III in the third quarter Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State running back Zach Zwinak gains yardage against Nebraska on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State running back Zach Zwinak gains yardage against Nebraska on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State safety Adrian Amos breaks up a pass intended for Nebraska wide receiver Quincy Enunwa in the fourth quarter Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State safety Adrian Amos breaks up a pass intended for Nebraska wide receiver Quincy Enunwa in the fourth quarter Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State cornerbacks Jordan Lucas (9) and Trevor Williams tackle Nebraska running back Imani Cross at the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State cornerbacks Jordan Lucas (9) and Trevor Williams  tackle Nebraska running back Imani Cross at the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg completes a pass to wide receiver Allen Robinson in the fourth quarter Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg completes a pass to wide receiver Allen Robinson in the fourth quarter Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State linebacker Brandon Bell tackles Nebraska quarterback Ron Kellogg III near the end zone in fourth quarter Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State linebacker Brandon Bell tackles Nebraska quarterback Ron Kellogg III near the end zone in fourth quarter Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg scrambles away from Nebraska safety Corey Cooper to score on a 7-yard touchdown in the third quarter Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg scrambles away from Nebraska safety Corey Cooper to score on a 7-yard touchdown in the third quarter Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State cornerback Jordan Lucas tackles Nebraska wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp on a first-half catch Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State cornerback Jordan Lucas tackles Nebraska wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp on a first-half catch Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State tight end Jesse James stiff-arms Nebraska safety Corey Cooper on his way to the end zone for a 46-yard touchdown Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State tight end Jesse James stiff-arms Nebraska safety Corey Cooper on his way to the end zone for a 46-yard touchdown Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State tight end Jesse James celebrates his 46-yard touchdown Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State tight end Jesse James celebrates his 46-yard touchdown Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State coach Bill O'Brien walks the sideline in the fourth quarter against Nebraska on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State coach Bill O'Brien walks the sideline in the fourth quarter against Nebraska on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State tight end Jesse James eludes Nebraska safety Corey Cooper on his way to a 46-yard touchdown Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State tight end Jesse James eludes Nebraska safety Corey Cooper on his way to a 46-yard touchdown Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Penn State safety Adrian Amos drops back into coverage against Nebraska in the fourth quarter Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penn State safety Adrian Amos drops back into coverage against Nebraska in the fourth quarter Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in University Park.

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Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, 7:33 p.m.
 

UNIVERSITY PARK — Even with blowing a late lead to get there, Penn State didn't mind its game against Nebraska going into overtime.

Playing beyond regulation at Beaver Stadium has worked that well for the Nittany Lions over the past 12 months.

“We all felt really confident and really comfortable in overtime,” senior linebacker Glenn Carson said. “I think everybody on our team thought we'd get it done.”

This time, Penn State didn't.

Pat Smith's 42-yard field goal capped Nebraska's first possession of overtime and lifted the Cornhuskers to a 23-20 win over the Lions on a brisk Saturday evening at Beaver Stadium.

It was the third Penn State home game this season that went to overtime; four of the past five Big Ten games played at Beaver Stadium have gone past regulation. This was the first of that group that the Lions lost.

Smith, whose 19-yard field goal with 4:29 left tied the game, answered a 37-yard miss by the Nittany Lions' Sam Ficken on the initial possession of overtime. Ficken also missed an extra point late in the first quarter.

Smith had to make the winner twice — his attempted 37-yarder moments earlier went through the uprights but was whistled before it was officially kicked because of a false start penalty.

Last season, Ficken's 37-yard field goal in the first overtime lifted Penn State past Wisconsin in its season finale at home, giving the Lions an 8-4 finish in their first season under coach Bill O'Brien.

O'Brien has made no secret of his affection for the upperclassmen on his first two teams as a college coach — a group that stuck with him and the university after crushing NCAA sanctions were levied during the summer of 2012.

O'Brien repeatedly said how important it was to give the seniors a win in their final home game. It didn't happen this season in a game played in windy conditions with temperatures below freezing and the frequent specter of flurries.

“Final game at Beaver Stadium; it was emotional for all of us,” fullback Pat Zerbe said. “I wish we could have come out with the win today ... everyone's pretty upset. Everyone played as hard as they could, but it just didn't go our way.”

Bill Belton did not play because of illness, so Zach Zwinak carried the bulk of the running-game load for Penn State. Zwinak had 35 carries for 149 yards.

Christian Hackenberg accounted for three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) and had an interception. He was 16 for 33 for 217 yards.

Big Ten rushing leader Ameer Abdullah had 25 carries for 147 yards for the Cornhuskers (8-3, 5-2), who have beaten the Nittany Lions (6-5, 3-4) during each of the Cornhuskers' three seasons since joining the Big Ten.

Penn State, which had won each of its past five overtime games, appeared poised to have a chance to win it in regulation when it had Nebraska backed up at the 1 and facing a third-and-14 with 1:22 left. But Ron Kellogg III heaved a pass deep down the left sideline intended for Quincy Enunwa that drew a pass interference penalty on Lions cornerback Jordan Lucas.

Canon-McMillan's Mike Hull had stopped Kellogg at the 1 on a third-and-goal with 5:42 left. That forced Smith's tying field goal.

Penn State allowed a touchdown on a kickoff return for the second consecutive game, this time a 99-yard run by Kenny Bell to answer the Lions taking the lead less than five minutes into the second half.

That Lions' touchdown was set up a strip sack, forced fumble and recovery by C.J. Olaniyan at the Nebraska 8. Two plays later, Hackenberg scored on a 7-yard bootleg in which he outran the Cornhuskers' defense to the pylon in the far corner of the end zone to give Penn State a 13-7 lead.

Zwinak had six carries during an eight-play drive that gave Penn State a 6-0 lead with 33 seconds to play in the first quarter. Adam Breneman had a touchdown reception from fellow true freshman Hackenberg for the second game in a row, this one from 2 yards.

But Ficken missed the extra point — his first miss of the season. In a low-scoring/field position-oriented game, the Lions would chase that point the remainder of the chilled evening.

“There's a lot of things we could have done to win the game that we didn't, and we didn't win the game,” cornerback Adrian Amos said. “I honestly didn't even think about if Sam didn't make kicks. It's a team loss; teams lose games, not players.”

Jesse James had a 46-yard touchdown catch-and-run from Hackenberg early in the fourth quarter to give Penn State a 20-17 lead. It was the first time in any of the Lions' losses this season that they had a lead in the fourth quarter.

“We didn't do a good enough job to win the game,” O'Brien said.

Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at cadamski@tribweb.com or on Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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