Excruciating Losses? James Franklin Has Had His Share at Penn State

Penn State's overtime loss to Indiana was just the latest in a series of agonizing games dating to 2014.
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Penn State's season-opening loss to Indiana, which ended on a contentious 2-point conversion in overtime, certainly wasn't the first excruciating loss of James Franklin's tenure at Penn State. Stunningly, it might not have been the most excruciating.

Consider that, since 2014, Franklin's Penn State teams have lost games following instant replay "technical difficulties," two late end-zone interceptions, a 3.5-hour weather delay and a quarterback going 13 for 13 in the fourth quarter.

And don't forget 4th and 5.

Since 2014, Penn State has lost four games by one point, the most among Big Ten teams, according to the website sports-reference.com. Fifteen of Franklin's 24 losses at Penn State have been decided by one possession.

So where does Saturday's loss rank in recent Penn State history? Consider this list.

2014: Ohio State 31, Penn State 24 (2OT)

The first of Franklin's really agonizing losses. The Buckeyes won in double overtime after an interception wasn't reviewed because of replay "technical difficulties" and a field goal, kicked after the play clock expired, stood because the play wasn't reviewable.

2014: Maryland 20, Penn State 19

The very next week, after refusing the pregame handshake, Maryland kicked a 43-yard field goal with 51 seconds left. The Terps sacked Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg six times, a major Penn State theme that season.

2016: Pitt 42, Penn State 39

Pitt’s Ryan Lewis intercepted quarterback Trace McSorley in the end zone with just over a minute to play, negating Penn State's attempted comeback from a 21-point deficit.

2017 Rose Bowl: USC 52, Penn State 49

The Lions fell behind 20-7, raced to a 49-35 lead entering the fourth quarter, then gave up 18 unanswered points, including 10 in the final two minutes. USC made the game-winning field goal following a last-minute interception.

2017: Ohio State 39, Penn State 38

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett went an astonishing 13 for 13 in the fourth quarter, leading the Buckeyes to victory after they trailed by 11 with 5:42 remaining.

2017: Michigan State 27, Penn State 24

A week later, the Lions rode out a weather delay by eating Chick-Fil-A in wet uniforms at Spartan Stadium, then watched helplessly as Michigan State kicker Matt Coghlin made a 34-yard field goal as time expired.

2018: Ohio State 27, Penn State 26

The Buckeyes overcame a 12-point, fourth-quarter deficit as Dwayne Haskins threw two touchdown passes, one capping a 96-yard drive with 2:03 remaining. Ohio State then stuffed Miles Sanders on a fourth-and-five running play, a call for which then-offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne accepted blame.

2018: Michigan State 27, Penn State 24

For the second straight year, the Lions followed a loss to Ohio State with a loss to the Spartans. This time, quarterback Brian Lewerke hit Felton Davis for the game-winning touchdown with 19 seconds left. Penn State's defense missed two interceptions on the final drive.

2019: Minnesota 31, Penn State 26

Minnesota intercepted a Sean Clifford pass in the end zone with 1:01 left, handing No. 5 Penn State its first loss. Two plays prior, Penn State receiver Daniel George was flagged for a questionable offensive PI call, negating a Journey Brown gain to the 2-yard line. And Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan went 18 for 20 for 339 yards under offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca, now at Penn State.

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