UCF vs. Penn State: Live Game Grades and Analysis for the Nittany Lions

Aaron Siegal-Eisman@@ASiegalEismanFeatured ColumnistSeptember 14, 2013

Sep 7, 2013; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Bill O'Brien (center) leads his team onto the field prior to the game against the Eastern Michigan Eagles at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

UCF defeated Penn State 34-31 at Beaver Stadium. Check out the analysis and final grades here.

Final: UCF 34, Penn State 31 

For the full box score, check out NCAA.com.

Game analysis for the Penn State Nittany Lions

Pass Offense: Quarterback Christian Hackenberg improved in the second half because his go-to receiver Allen Robinson created more space in the UCF secondary. The freshman finished the game 21-of-28 with 262 passing yards and one touchdown. Hackenberg needs more of his receivers to step up in future games.

Run Offense: Zach Zwinak stepped up in the second half, after a disappointing first half. The Maryland native finished the game with 128 rushing yards and three touchdowns, but he fumbled the ball during PSU's biggest drive of the game.

Pass Defense: Penn State's secondary troubles carried over from the first half into the second half. The Knights quarterback Blake Bortles went 20-for-27 with 288 passing yards and three touchdowns. PSU wasn't able to shut down the bigger UCF wide receivers. 

Run Defense: The Penn State front seven improved in the second half, but still allowed 219 rushing yards. The Nittany Lions need to improve their rush defense by the time Big Ten conference play comes around.

Special Teams: Kicker Sam Ficken didn't have many opportunities in the second half, but he nailed a 47-yard field goal in the first half and hit all four extra points. 

Coaching: Bill O'Brien made some excellent passing calls at the right times in the second half, but he wasn't able to make many effective defensive adjustments against a solid UCF offense. 

First-half analysis for the Penn State Nittany Lions

Pass Offense: Quarterback Christian Hackenberg is just 9-for-15 with 108 passing yards and no touchdowns. UCF's secondary has given the freshman problems at times, and he needs to be more on-point in the second half. Allen Robinson has to find ways to get open to help out Hackenberg.

Run Offense: PSU's run game has had problems breaking past UCF's front seven. The three running backs (Bill Belton, Zach Zwinak and Akeel Lynch) have combined for 95 yards on 18 carries. Zwinak leads the way with 34 rushing yards on seven carries. 

Pass Defense: UCF's Blake Bortles did a good job of spreading the ball to a variety of receivers. Bortles went 12-for-16 with 120 passing yards and two touchdown passes. Penn State's only highlight came when Malcolm Willis picked off Bortles in the second quarter.  

Run Defense: Penn State's defense allowed 169 rushing yards and one touchdown off of 16 carries. Defensive players need to tackle better in the second half. The defense can't allow the Knights' backs to break into the secondary. 

Special Teams: Kicker Sam Ficken hit one field goal in two attempts. Ficken nailed a 47-yard field goal in the second quarter, then missed a 57-yard field goal towards the end of the first half.

Coaching: Coach O'Brien needs to do a better job of mixing run and pass plays on offense to confuse the UCF defense.