UCF vs. Penn State: Loss to Knights Won't Ruin Nittany Lions' Season

Andrew Coppens@@andycoppensContributor ISeptember 15, 2013

Sep 14, 2013; University Park, PA, USA; Central Florida Knights running back William Stanback (28) runs the ball during the fourth quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Central Florida defeated Penn State 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The teacher got the pupil in Happy Valley on Saturday as George O'Leary's UCF Knights took down Bill O'Brien's Penn State Nittany Lions, 34-31. It was the Knights' first win against a Big Ten opponent, and it happened in a place like Happy Valley?

While the loss at home to an opponent that many didn't take seriously beforehand may have some pushing a panic button, Penn State fans shouldn't be too worried. 

Yes, it took the offense some time to get on track and Penn State's secondary couldn't come up with a stop soon enough in the first half. 

However, Christian Hackenberg still looked good, going 21-of-28 passing for 262 yards with a touchdown. 

Penn State also showed it has a varied rushing attack, with Zach Zwinak rushing for 128 yards on 21 carries with three touchdowns as well. 

This was also a great test for this team, playing a team with a style it'll see often in Big Ten play. Blake Bortles and Storm Johnson are a pretty good one-two punch, and it's clear the Nittany Lions have a few things to work out on the defensive side of the ball. 

The youthful Nittany Lions also learned that you can't spot an opponent 18 points and expect to win a college football game. 

So, O'Brien and his staff have some things they can correct on film and in practice. With the youth on this team, the experience of what happened on Saturday could serve them well in the coming weeks as the Big Ten slate awaits them in two weeks. 

It is also worth noting that the offense did mount a furious second-half comeback and nearly pulled out the game as is. 

This team will still compete, and compete at a very high level in the Big Ten season, as long as Hackenberg doesn't fall off this season.