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Penn State vs. Syracuse 2013 game recap: Nittany Lions squeak past Orange, 23-17

The Nittany Lions had to hold on late to defeat the Orange in the Meadowlands, but they did leave with a 23-17 win.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State and Syracuse both looked rusty early, but the Nittany Lions got it together in the second half to pick up the 23-17 win at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

The first half was a rather dull and sloppy affair, with both teams managing only field goals. Penn State went into the locker room with a 6-3 lead, and they desperately missed wide receiver Allen Robinson, who was unexpectedly suspended for the first half for a "disciplinary issue."

Robinson would return in the second half, and he immediately made an impact. He caught two consecutive passes for 71 yards on his first drive, including a wide open 51 yard touchdown pass from Christian Hackenberg, who was making his first career start as a true freshman. The good times wouldn't last though, as Syracuse running back Jerome Smith punched in a 10 yard rush on the next drive to make it a 13-10 game.

A 46 yard field goal from Sam Ficken put Penn State up 16-10 early in the fourth quarter, but the Nittany Lions seemed to put the game away when Hackenberg hit Geno Lewis for a 54 yard touchdown with just over 11 minutes remaining. Robert Welsh intercepted Hackenberg on Penn State's next drive, and after he returned it to the one, Jerome Smith punched in his second touchdown of the day to make it a one score game. Syracuse had one last shoot with two minutes remaining, but Trevor Williams picked off Drew Allen to preserve the win for Penn State.

Box Score Hero: Allen Robinson was huge, pulling in seven receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown, all in the second half. Honorable mention goes to Hackenberg, who looked very good in his collegiate debut, going 22-31 for 273 yards and two touchdowns, but he did throw two interceptions as well.

Rankings Ramifications: Neither team was ranked before this game, and neither will be after either.

But Did They Cover? Penn State was an eight point favorite at kick, so they didn't covered the spread.

For More On This Game:

For the Penn State perspective, check out Black Shoe Diaries

For more on the Orange, head over to Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician

Next Week's Schedule:

Penn State: 9/7, vs. Eastern Michigan

Syracuse:  9/7, at Northwestern

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