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Christian Hackenberg, Penn State ruin Wisconsin's BCS hopesSubmitted: 11/30/2013
Christian Hackenberg, Penn State ruin Wisconsin's BCS hopes
Story By Associated Press

MADISON - A bright future for Penn State emerged on a cool, crisp day in the Midwest.

Strong-armed freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg figures to only improve for the Nittany Lions.

Hackenberg played with the poise and touch of a seasoned veteran, throwing for 339 yards and four touchdowns, and Penn State pounced on a slew of Badgers blunders before holding off a late rally to upset No. 15 Wisconsin 31-24 on Saturday.

"He really stepped up in a big way, and words can't describe how thankful I am to that guy," said offensive lineman and senior leader John Urschel.

An up-and-down season -- from the 20-point loss at Indiana to the overtime win over Michigan -- ended on a high note in the most unlikely of places, at Camp Randall Stadium on Senior Day against a Wisconsin team on the cusp of eligibility for an at-large berth in a Bowl Championship Series game.

Say goodbye to the BCS, Badgers.

"That's not going to happen and so we'll move forward. Such is life," coach Gary Andersen said. "The way we played today and the way I coached them, obviously, we don't deserve to have that opportunity. It's gone now."

Two more freshmen had big days for Penn State (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten). Eugene Lewis finished with 91 yards and two touchdowns on three catches, including a 59-yarder with 13 minutes to go to give the Nittany Lions a 31-14 lead. Adam Breneman had 78 yards on three receptions, including a 68-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown that set the tone for the day on the game's opening drive.

The Nittany Lions secured a statement win against a team that had been dominant all year at home. They were listed as 24-point underdogs among Las odds-makers, and prognosticators consistently predicted a Badgers blowout.

Coach Bill O'Brien made sure his players knew about their underdog status all week. A sizable chip was planted on the Nittany Lions' collective shoulders.

"I'm not allowed to talk about that even though it seems like a lot of you guys thought it was the right line," O'Brien told reporters after the game. "You're wrong."

Joel Stave was 29 of 53 for 339 yards and three touchdowns for Wisconsin (9-3, 6-2), though Penn State capitalized on three second-half interceptions, turning one into Lewis' long TD.

The Badgers scored 10 points in a span of 1:25 of the fourth quarter, capped by a 48-yard field goal by Jack Russell with 4:13 left to get within a score. Sam Ficken's 31-yard field-goal try went wide right with 31 seconds left to give the Badgers one more chance.

But a Hail Mary attempt by Stave was intercepted by Ryan Keiser in the end zone with 1 second left.

"Both elation and relief," linebacker Mike Hull said in describing the moment. "We made it closer than we had to, but we got the win and that's all that matters."

Penn State clinched a winning season and did it on the road, where they had struggled all year in Big Ten play. That's quite an accomplishment for a program that's typically dressed about 60 recruited scholarship players as a result of NCAA sanctions resulting from the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

O'Brien's team can't go to a bowl game because of the sanctions. But Penn State will nevertheless ride into the offseason on a high note for a second straight year after a win over the Badgers. Penn State beat Wisconsin 24-21 in an overtime thriller to end the 2012 season.

The Badgers only have themselves to blame. They were uncharacteristically prone to mental errors and mistakes.

"I can't sit back and say we had a bad week of practice, can't sit back and say I didn't feel like we were prepared," Andersen said. "I'm going to say it again, I give a lot of credit to Penn State."

A high pass from Stave off the fingertips of Jared Abbrederis was picked off by Trevor Williams, who returned it 33 yards to the Penn State 38. Three plays later, Hackenberg let go a deep pass after absorbing a hit from Brendan Kelly that landed in the arms of a streaking Lewis over double coverage for a touchdown and 31-14 lead in the fourth.

A Wisconsin defense that hadn't allowed a play longer than 51 yards entering Saturday allowed an astounding four for at least 52 against Penn State.

Hackenberg was 13 of 16 for 221 yards and two touchdowns alone in the first half, the second coming to a wide-open Lewis from 3 yards.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 06/26/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

Last year road construction forced the 4th of July parade in Rhinelander to be rerouted effecting several businesses on the route. Tonight we talk with businesses about what it was like last year and how they expect business to be much better this year.

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And some of the Newswatch 12 staff will strap on some snowshoes tonight to participate in this year's snowshoe baseball games in Lake Tomahawk. We'll bring you a preview and tell you how the league is preparing for the event.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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EAGLE RIVER - Before you head out on an outdoor adventure this summer, you might want to check your packing list.

Tom Stephens and his wife Jessica Allen own The Hiker Box in Eagle River.

They're used to helping people get ready for outdoor trips like camping, hiking, or kayaking.

They say packing food, water, fire starters and emergency blankets are crucial.

Clothing is important, too, right down to what socks you wear.

"If you think that a standard cotton sock is going to take care of you out there, you'll find out that you're wrong in a very painful and lasting way with huge blisters," says Tom.

Tom also says there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.

You should also bring along a first aid kit, but you should make it your own.

"You need to go through that and look at it from your eyes and what you need for first aid. Do you have special conditions? Do you prefer a certain bandage for your ankle?" says Jessica.

It's also good to bring a light, a compass, and repair tools on your trip.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - A conservative Republican senator who doesn't back the GOP health care bill is using unusually sharp tones to criticize party leaders.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson is accusing top Republicans of trying to jam the legislation through the Senate. He says the leadership effort is "a little offensive" and says conservatives haven't had input into the proposal.

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This year, the annual county fair needs the community's help more than ever. On Saturday, a Community Day was held on the fairgrounds in hopes of raising money.

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RHINELANDER - This year community members hit the pavement for the 11th Annual Hodag Run for Your Life on Saturday.

The event includes a half marathon, a 10K, a 5K, and even a "Chase the Hodag" run for kids. Organizers say the Hodag chase is always a big hit with kids.

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Pastor Tammy Barthels says this is a great way for kids to learn about world hunger.

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RIB MOUNTAIN - One person died after a single car crash in Rib Mountain Sunday night.

Police say the man was driving when the car went into a pond just after 7 p.m. The accident happened near Lilac Avenue and Phlox Lane.

Two people went into the water and pulled the driver from the car, but the driver died.

The Marathon County Sheriff's Office and Medical Examiners Office are conducting the investigation.

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