PARK RIDGE, Ill. — It hasn’t taken Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg long to make his mark in the Big Ten. For the second time in three weeks, Hackenberg was selected the conference’s Freshman of the Week on Monday.
Hackenberg, a true freshman, was 21 of 28 for 262 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions in the Nittany Lions’ 34-31 loss to Central Florida. He connected with wideout Allen Robinson nine times for 143 yards, including a five-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
Hackenberg’s play Saturday impressed UCF coach George O’Leary, who was surprised to learn that Hackenberg was a true freshman.
“I think he’s going to be outstanding,” the veteran coach said. “I think he has great poise and can make all of the different throws. He keeps his vision downfield and really handles the clock very well. He doesn’t get flustered back there. For a true freshman, he’s done a great job.”
Hackenberg has thrown for more than 250 yards in each of his three starts in leading Penn State to a 2-1 record. He ranks third in the conference and 24th nationally at 283.7 passing yards per game. He also leads the Big Ten and is 24th in the nation with 22 completions per game.
For the season, Hackenberg is 66 of 92 for 851 yards, with four touchdowns and three interceptions He has completed six passes of 40 yards or more, with five of them going to Robinson.
Penn State plays its final non-conference game Saturday with a 3:30 p.m. clash against Kent State at Beaver Stadium.
Ohio State’s Kenny Guiton and Ryan Shazier were honored as the conference’s Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week, respectively.
Guiton, a senior subbing for starting quarterback Braxton Miller, completed 21 of 32 passes for 276 yards and four touchdowns in the Buckeyes’ 52-34 win over California. One of his scoring passes was a 90-yarder to Devin Smith.
Shazier had 12 tackles, 10 solo, forced a fumble and recorded a sack against the Golden Bears. The junior linebacker won the honor for the third time in his career.
Illinois punter Justin DuVernois was named the Special Teams Player of the Week. DuVernois averaged 45.2 yards on five punts, with three landing inside the 20 in the Fighting Illini’s 34-24 loss to Washington.