Cain and Luketa headline unsung heroes in Penn State’s upset opener


In the suspense-filled thriller that was #19 Penn State’s 16-10 win in Badgerland, the stars were out.

Breakout performances from Jaquan Brisker, Jahan Dotson, and Ellis Brooks – to name a few.

But there were plays that won’t make the final highlight reel that had the Nittany Lions just inches from a different result.

Let’s take you through a couple.

RB Noah Cain

On 3rd & 4 from the Badger 28 yard line, a checkdown pass in the flat was caught by Cain before Wisconsin safety John Torchio went for the tackle that would have kept Cain short of a first down.

Instead, Cain broke out of the arms of Torchio and maneuvered his way to a first down and kept the drive alive.

Now, the possession ended with a field goal, but if you watched Jordan Stout’s kicking game on Saturday – you’d know three points was not guaranteed.

Stout had previously missed a 23-yard field goal earlier in the game and later would miss an extra point.

If Cain was brought down on that tackle, Stout would have been forced to kick a 45-yard field goal.

Not exactly easing the blood pressure.

Instead, Cain’s broken tackle created a 25-yard chip shot that Stout knocked through to tie the game.

Every inch matters and Cain’s presence is proof of that.

LB Jesse Luketa

Measurements are a theme when it comes to these unsung heroes.

When Wisconsin drove down in the final minute to the Penn State 25 yard line, a heartbreaking finish began to feel inevitable.

It felt more doomed when Chimere Dike sprinted down the middle of the field wide open after beating cornerback Daequan Hardy.

But the ball was overthrown.

At first, it just felt like a botched throw.

Once you looked at the replay, you realized Jesse Luketa made an incredible play.

Luketa leaping so high at the line of scrimmage that Mertz had no choice but to place the ball in a place he didn’t want to – which was five yards over Dike’s head.

If not for Luketa’s leap, Dike likely scores and Wisconsin takes the lead on an extra point to come.

Instead, Penn State walks out with a statement win in their season opener.

One that took every play, every player, and especially – every inch.

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