After a muddy start, Penn State finished with a big play to win the Capital One Bowl. Penn State coach Joe Paterno got his record 24th bowl win and handed Les Miles his first loss in five bowls as LSU coach. Penn State kicker Collin Wagner kicked a 21-yard field goal with 57 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and the Nittany Lions stopped the LSU Tiger's drive in their tracks for a 19-17 victory.
The field took a pounding after bad conditions hung over the Champs Sports Bowl earlier this week on the same field. The grounds crew worked like mad men all week in hopes that the field would be in good conditions for the Capital One Bowl. Rain started pouring down a couple hours before game time, and the field started getting torn up during warmups. Pregame routines by the marching bands didn't help the cause much either. The field was so bad for both offenses that both teams combined for 15 punts, which broke the bowl record of 10 set by Miami, Ohio and Florida in 1973.
The first half was filled with sloppy plays and by halftime the Nittany Lions had a 13-3 lead, but LSU's fire gained fuel after rain subsided in the second half. Wide Reciever Brandon LaFell's 24-yard touchdown pass from QB Jefferson with 13 seconds left drew the Tigers within 16-10 that put life back into a depressed LSU crowd. Penn State went three and out on its next drive and Trindon Holliday (the reigning NCAA 100-meter dash champion) returned a punt 37 yards to the LSU 49 yard line to help set up LSU running back Stevan Ridley's 1-yard touchdown run put the Tigers ahead 17-16 with 12 minutes and 49 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The teams exchanged a couple three and outs before Penn State took over for its game-winning effort with 6:54 left. Clark hit a Graham Zug with a crisp pass on third down from the LSU 42 for a key conversion to keep the drive alive. This set up kicker Collin Wagner's game-winner. On the ensuing drive, LSU got to midfield but the yellow flag was thrown for a personal foul penalty that got them pushed back to their own 40 yard line. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson threw a bomb to Wide Reciever Rueben Randle for a 25-yard gain which got them to the Penn State 35, but they couldn't hold onto the ball as time expired.
This game will be remembered for it's dramatic finish, but will also be remembered for it's sloppy beginning. A pounding rainstorm at the start of the game made the field look like a pig pen. Slipping and dropped passes were very normal in the first half, and Penn State's Clark fumbled two snaps, but luckly both were recovered by the Lions. LSU QB Jordan Jefferson landed 13-of-24 passes for 202 yards with that TD pass and one pick. Clark, who was swarmed with the question of whether he can win a bowl game, ended his collegiate career on a winning note. He landed 18-of-35 passes for 216 yards and a 37-yard touchdown pass to Wide Reciever Derek Moye in the first quarter. Clark also threw one pick, but he could have had a few more if LSU been able to hold on to the wet ball.
So that was my recap of the Capital One Bowl game. I hope you enjoyed it. All I can say about that game is if you missed that game, you really missed one heck of a game. So for now, goodbye and have a nice day!