- Josh Moyer, ESPN Staff Writer
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Recognizing the best and brightest from the Nittany Lions in the season opener:
Safety/linebacker Stephen Obeng-Agyapong: Syracuse targeted Obeng-Agyapong after Mike Hull went down, but the safety-turned-linebacker stepped up in a big way. He ran the gamut of defensive statistics with a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception. The situational player's two turnovers directly led to six Penn State points.
Defensive tackle DaQuan Jones: Who paced the Nittany Lions' defense in tackles? That would be none other than the 6-foot-3, 318-pound senior. He cut through double-teams and the Syracuse line like the great PSU tackles before him and wound up with 8.5 tackles -- including a sack and 3.5 tackles in the backfield. Jones was absolutely unstoppable, and the Orange didn't get very far trying to rush inside.
Quarterback Christian Hackenberg: He made a few mistakes, as Bill O'Brien mostly stuck to a conservative game plan. But he played relatively well -- extremely well for a true freshman who's been on campus less than three months. He went 22-of-31 for 278 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. His 54-yard touchdown strike to Eugene Lewis was the nicest pass of the game and really showed off his arm. If that play didn't offer a glimpse of his potential, none did. He should be something special -- and a win in his first career start is definitely a great beginning.
Kicker Sam Ficken: He needs to put Robbie Gould on his Christmas card list. He talked with the former Penn State kicker throughout last season and really came on strong Saturday by nailing all three of his field goals, including a career-long 46-yard attempt. This isn't the same Ficken as last season, who some thought might just be the worst FBS kicker in the country. Early last season, they might have been right. But this year? Excuse the pun, but he's started off on the right foot.
Wideout Allen Robinson: Sometimes, stats just speak best. He had seven catches for 133 yards -- accounting for 48 percent of Hackenberg's passing yardage -- and only played in the second half. He basically single-handedly drove PSU to its first score by catching two balls for 76 yards and a TD ... on a two-play drive. Plus, nearly all of his yardage came after the catch. Robinson is the best receiver in the Big Ten, and he could be in the NFL at this point next season.