NCAA Football 14 Simulation: Penn State hits a wall in a devastating way

The Crystal Ball Run NCAA Football '14 Simulation continues on after a day off and we continue to keep tabs on how Penn State is doing. If you recall, conference play opened up with a pair of overtime victories against Indiana and Michigan, while Tyler Ferguson has been taking over at quarterback in place of an injured Christian Hackenberg.

Our season simulation continues with Penn State sitting at 4-2 overall but 2-0 in Big Ten play and already in the driver's seat on a potential path to the Big Ten championship game. Remember, in the virtual world there are no postseason bans or sanctions. We pick up with the Nittany Lions making the trip to Columbus, Ohio to take on No. 6 Ohio State, who sits 6-1 (2-1).

OHIO STATE 31, PENN STATE 10

Passing: Ferguson, 12-of-27 145 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Belton, 29 yards
Receiving: Carter, 94 yards, 1 TD

Tackling: Carson, 10 tackles, 1 TFL

Penn State is overmatched in a big road game at Ohio State, as the Buckeyes take command in the first half and come out strong after halftime in a 31-10 victory over the visiting Nittany Lions. Braxton Miller passes for three touchdowns and runs for another as he continues to make a Heisman push. Penn State's offense is totally dominated and manages just 184 yards of total offense.

It is Penn State's first loss in Big Ten play, which keeps them in the hunt in the Leaders Division despite losing the tiebreaker to Ohio State in this fashion. The Buckeyes move up to number four in the rankings with the win and with upsets happening across the nation. Penn State is now 4-3 overall, 2-1 in the Big Ten.

ILLINOIS 38, PENN STATE 7

Passing: Ferguson, 15-of-30, 222 yards, 0 INT
Rushing: Zwinak, 65 yards
Receiving: Robinson 158 yards, 1 rushing TD

Tackling: Zettel, 7 tackles, 5 solo, 1.0 sacks

Somebody hide this one from @evilbillobrien. Illinois jumps out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter as Nathan Scheelhaase passes for one touchdown and runs for two others. Penn State is shutout in to the fourth quarter before Allen Robinson records a meaningless touchdown as the Illini blow away a reeling Penn State team.

The loss drops Penn State to an even 4-4 record and to 2-2 in the Big Ten. After having the division championship under their control, Penn State drops in the division standings and now must regroup to ensure they can pick up two more wins to reach a bowl game.

MINNESOTA 33, PENN STATE 3

Passing: Ferguson, 9-of-32, 72 yards, 2 INT
Rushing: Zwinak, 94 yards
Receiving: Carter, 22 yards

Tackling: Jones, 9 tackles, 2 TFL

Ugly, ugly, ugly. Penn State loses their third straight blowout game by allowing over 30 points and scoring fewer points in each consecutive game. Tyler Ferguson has an awful outing but with Hackenberg out with injury there is no other option for Bill O'Brien. Sam Ficken boots a 36-yard field goal midway through the first quarter to cut Minnesota's lead to 6-3 early on, but the Gophers score 27 unanswered points with a 14 points in the final three minutes of the first half giving the lifeless Nittany Lions an early knockout punch. Penn State manages just 217 yards of offense and loses four turnovers.

Penn State sinks to 4-5 and 2-3 in Big Ten play, forcing Penn State to find two wins in their final three games in order to keep postseason hopes alive.

Will Penn State manage to turn things around in time? Find out tomorrow as we wrap up the regular season simulation.

Kevin McGuire

About Kevin McGuire

Managing editor of Crystal Ball Run and contributor to College Football Talk on NBCSports.com. Member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. College Football Hall of Fame voter. Also managing Bloguin's NittanyLionsDen.com and Macho-Row.com.

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