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Penn State notebook: Upcoming bowl bid boosts practice time

Tribune-Review
| Saturday, November 29, 2014 10:27 p.m
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Penn State's DaeSean Hamilton gets wrapped up by Michigan State's Trae Waynes on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton (5) attempts to elude Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes (15) after making a catch Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes (15) intercepts a pass intended for Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin (12) in the end zone during the second quarter Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Michigan State defeated Penn State 34-10.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) passes over a trio of Michigan State defenders Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun (89) pressures Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin (12) can't hang onto a pass in the end zone as Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes (15) comes up with the interception for a touchback during the second half Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Michigan State wide receiver Tony Lippett (14) scores on a 10-yard touchdown pass in front of Penn State cornerback Jordan Lucas (23) during the third quarter Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun (89) stuffs Penn State running back Akeel Lynch (22) Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State wide receiver Saeed Blacknall (13) can't hold onto a pass against Michigan State safety Tony Lippett on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State linebacker Mike Hull (43) tackles Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook (18) on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State linebacker Mike Hull (43) prepares to tackle Michigan State running back Jeremy Langford (33) on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin (12) gains yardage after a catch as Michigan State defensive back Montae Nicholson (9) gives chase Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) scrambles away from Michigan State linebacker Riley Bullough (30) on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Injured Penn State senior running back Zach Zwinak shares a moment with head athletic trainer Tim Bream during senior day festivities Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Penn State senior Bill Belton (1) hugs Donovan Smith (76) after their final game at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Injured Penn State senior safety Ryan Keiser (23) shares a moment with coach James Franklin during senior day festivities Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State linebacker Mike Hull (43) shares a moment with coach James Franklin during senior day festivities Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State guard Miles Dieffenbach (65) hugs coach James Franklin during senior day festivities Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Penn State senior safety Jesse Della Valle (39) runs through his teammates during senior day festivities Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Penn State running back Bill Belton (1) hauls in a pass as Michigan State linebacker Ed Davis (43) gives chase Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Penn State tight end Jesse James (18) is upended by Michigan State linebacker Mylan Hicks (6) after making a catch Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State coach James Franklin leaves the field after a 34-10 loss to Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton (5) attempts to elude Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes (15) after making a catch Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State cornerback Jordan Lucas (9) tackles Michigan State wide receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr. on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State running back Akeel Lynch (22) celebrates with Jesse James (18) after scoring on a 3-yard touchdown run in the third quarter Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Running back Akeel Lynch (22) leads Penn State in carries and rushing yards. The Nittany Lions play in the Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Michigan State wide receiver Tony Lippett (14) catches a 10-yard touchdown pass in front of Penn State cornerback Jordan Lucas (23) during the third quarter Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Michigan State defensive back Montae Nicholson (9) upends Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki (88) during the second quarter Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State linebacker Nyeem Wartman (left) fails to keep Michigan State running back Jeremy Langford from scoring during the third quarter Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Michigan State defensive end Marcus Rush (44) forces a fumble by Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) during the third quarter Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook (18) goes airborne past Penn State linebacker Nyeem Wartman (5) during the third quarter Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Michigan State running back Jeremy Langford (33) eludes Penn State defenders Mike Hull (43) and C.J. Olaniyan (86) to score on a 6-yard touchdown run during the fourth quarter Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.

UNIVERSITY PARK — Regardless of what bowl becomes their destination, the Nittany Lions look forward to a busy December.

The NCAA’s decision to lift Penn State’s bowl ban earlier this year created an opportunity for several weeks’ worth of extra work on the practice field. And the Nittany Lions, leaning heavily on freshmen and sophomores, welcome the chance to increase experience.

“I hope it’s fun,” redshirt sophomore linebacker Nyeem Wartman said with a sheepish grin.

The linebacker corps can use more reps as much as any unit. Sophomore Brandon Bell and freshman Jason Cabinda spent Saturday on the sideline in street clothes with injuries, so sophomore Gary Wooten made his first start of the year.

“Those practices will be valuable in terms of getting ready for our bowl opponent,” coach James Franklin said, “but also for building for our future and development. And obviously we’ll be on the road recruiting as well.”

Speaking of recruiting

Just before kickoff, Penn State picked up its third commit from a player in the Class of 2016.

Quarterback Jake Zembiec, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound junior and four-star recruit from Aquinas Institute in Rochester, N.Y, publicized his decision while attending the game.

Zembiec, who missed most of his junior season with a broken wrist, considered the Nittany Lions and Michigan State his top choices.

He joins Woodland Hills running back Miles Sanders and DeMatha Catholic (Md.) defensive end Shane Simmons.

Senior respect

As nods to their injured senior cohorts, senior running back Bill Belton wore running back Zach Zwinak’s No. 28 jersey, and junior cornerback Jordan Lucas wore safety Ryan Keiser’s No. 23. Belton usually wear No. 1, and Lucas wears No. 9.

Grounded

Penn State became determined to establish an effective run game during the second half of its season, and succeeded to an extent, as it gained more than 150 yards against Indiana, Temple and Illinois.

Saturday’s performance represented a step back for the rushing attack.

The Nittany Lions had their fewest rush attempts of the season, 22, and their second lowest yardage total, 38.

“We tried to stick with the running game all day long and not abort it like we’ve done in the past,” Franklin said, “and we weren’t able to consistently do that.”

Good hands, big guy

Junior defensive tackle Anthony Zettel’s second-quarter interception gave him three for the season, the most by a PSU lineman in three decades.

Zettel’s latest pick was an easy pop-up that followed pressure from defensive end C.J. Olaniyan on Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook.

Low turnout

The announced attendance 99,902, was the lowest of Penn State’s four Big Ten home games.

Among its seven games at Beaver Stadium, only the contests against Akron (97,354) and Massachusetts (99,155) brought out lower totals.

— Bill West

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