Penn State jumps out to big lead, hangs on to beat Washington

Penn State who found itself ranked as high as #3 in the country this year had a disappointing finish including a blown lead to Ohio St and a freaky loss to Michigan St.

Matched up with No. 9 Penn State in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, No. 11 Washington represented the Pac-12's last opportunity to salvage something from what had been a disastrous bowl season. This season he corralled 47 passes for 594 yards including three touchdowns.

Washington scored just before halftime, as Myles Gaskin's 13-yard touchdown run with 4:15 remaining in the second made the score 28-14.

It's hard to imagine how different this game would've been if Washington's defense had been able to get off the field on third down.

Five fifth-year seniors - defensive tackles Curtis Cothran (Council Rock North) and Parker Cothren, wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton, guard Brendan Mahon and linebacker Brandon Smith - will start their final games in blue and white on Saturday, as will six fourth-year seniors. "We respect our history and we embrace the traditions, but we're really focused on what we can do to play the best we possibly can against a great Washington opponent".

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"They committed to Penn State at a time that it probably wasn't the sexy thing to do". The defense came up with one more stop and with that, a two-game bowl losing streak came to an end as the Nittany Lions improved to 7-0 in Fiesta Bowls.

In this matchup, the lights will be brightest in Penn State's backfield. But unlike in the Cotton Bowl, the Pac-12 team (Washington) gave the Big Ten team (Penn State) all it could handle in the second half. Saquon Barkley is projected to be a star in the National Football League, and will likely be one of the first players to hear his name at the draft next year.

Penn State's defense, for a time, was one of the nation's best. Only Utah - who beat West Virginia - won a bowl game. We weren't expecting to have bowl games for a long time.

Likewise, Petersen is reticent to bring up the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, when his Boise State team defeated Oklahoma 43-42 in overtime.

"It's always of paramount importance in every game we play", Washington head coach Chris Petersen said of the Huskies' special teams success. Both teams were just on the outside looking in to the College Football Playoffs, but want to prove that they belong among the nation's elite.

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