The Penn State Nittany Lions erased a three touchdown deficit in the first half and defeated the Wisconsin Badgers 38-31 to win the Big Ten Conference championship game on Saturday. The win earned the Nittany Lions the College Football Game of the Week honor from the United States Sports Academy for the second time this season.
No.7 Penn State’s remarkable comeback against the sixth-ranked Badgers was the largest in the six-year history of the Big Ten championship game.
Quarterback Trace McSorley – named the game’s Most Valuable Player – led the Nittany Lion comeback by completing 22 of 31 passes for 384 yards and four touchdowns. He broke the Big Ten championship game records for both yards passing and touchdown passes and also took sole ownership of his school’s single-season records for the same categories.
The Nittany Lions fell behind by three touchdowns and trailed Wisconsin 28-7 with just five minutes left to play in the first half. In the first half’s final minute, McSorley connected with Saeed Blacknail for a 40-yard touchdown strike to make the score 28-14 at the break.
Penn State scored again on its first possession of the second half when McSorley passed to Blacknail for a 70-yard touchdown. Penn State later added a touchdown on a 1-yard rush from Saquon Barkley. After a Wisconsin field goal, the Nittany Lions scored again when McSorley passed to Barkley for an 18-yard touchdown to take a 35-31 lead.
The Nittany Lions added a 24-yard field goal to extend the lead to 38-31 with just five minutes left in the game. On the ensuing possession, Wisconsin drove 51 yards in four minutes before being stopped for a turnover on downs at the Penn State 24 with one minute left.
The win earned Penn State a berth in the Rose Bowl, where it will face the University of Southern California Trojans on 2 January 2017.
Penn State previously won the Academy’s College Football Game of the Week honor on 24 October 2016 for its 24-21 upset win over Ohio State.
A blue ribbon panel of 17 members consisting of former college football coaches and athletic directors and including Academy faculty selects the weekly winner of the Academy’s College Football Game of the Week Award by ballot. The committee is chaired by former U.S. Naval Academy athletic director Jack Lengyel. At the conclusion of the college football season, the panel selects the Academy’s College Football Game of the Year.
The College Football Game of the Year Award is part of the Academy’s Awards of Sport series, a function of the American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA), which was established as “a tribute to the artist and the athlete.”
Each year at the conclusion of the college football season painter Daniel Moore, the ASAMA 2005 Sport Artist of the Year, is commissioned by the Academy to render a painting depicting a memorable and pivotal moment to commemorate the selected College Football Game of the Year. In addition, the Academy contributes $5,000 to the winning university’s scholarship fund.
Fans are encouraged to follow the Academy’s Game of the Year process and compare their selected games of the week to the committee’s selection.
Based in Daphne, Ala., the United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call (251) 626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu .
Founded in 1984, ASAMA is dedicated to the preservation of sports art, history, and literature. The ASAMA collection is composed of nearly 2,000 works of sport art across a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, assemblages, prints and photographs. The museum is open free to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. For more information, go to www.asama.org.
By Eric Mann
Eric Mann is the communications assistant at the United States Sports Academy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.