Penn State's Freshman QB Christian Hackenberg looks to impress against Kent State

Penn State's Freshman QB Christian Hackenberg looks to impress against Kent State

For most 18-year-old Penn State students, game day in Happy Valley consists of rolling out of bed at 8:00 am, throwing on a blue and white football jersey, chugging some Gatorade, and finally heading over to the Beaver Stadium parking lots. What awaits these students is another action-packed day of tailgating, cheering, and hopefully celebrating with 100,000 other screaming fans.

For freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg, the game day routine is a bit different. Then again, he is not like most 18-year-old Penn State students. He’s 6’4” and 220 pounds. He has an absolute canon of an arm. He also happens to be the starting quarterback for the Nittany Lions. With the first day of fall marking week four of the season, the Penn State community is quickly learning that the kid can flat out play.

Despite a bitter loss last weekend to Central Florida, Penn State can roll into its week four matchup reassured by the great play of its young quarterback. The game day butterflies are beginning to fade, the matchups are becoming clearer, and the game is slowing down for Hackenberg. Through the team’s first three games, the big freshman has calmly settled into the offense throwing for an impressive 851 yards and four touchdowns at a 71 percent completion rate. Oh yeah, and three of his four touchdowns came on completions of 45 yards or longer. Not bad for a player who arrived to the team in June.

On Saturday Hackenberg will lead the Nittany Lions to face a struggling Kent State team that has gone 0-10 in Big Ten matchups over the years. Unfortunately for the Golden Flashes, that record is not likely to improve much this weekend. Oddmakers have projected Penn State to win by three touchdowns against a struggling and desperate Kent State defense. Of course Vegas odds mean nothing to Hackenberg and Nittany Nation. The team is hungry and its quarterback is ready to prove on the field that he is the real deal.

If the home team’s offense can avoid third-and-longs by staying productive on first and second down, look for the offense to roll. Head coach Bill O’Brien acknowledged that appropriate play calling should keep his guys in more manageable situations. Expect Hackenberg to connect early and often with standout receiver Allen Robinson who has already amassed 300 yards receiving so far this season.

It’s worth noting that Hackenberg has already twice received the honor of Big Ten Freshman of the Week, while Bill O’Brien believes the quarterback has only earned himself a 'B' rating through three weeks. Come Monday, don’t be surprised if the promising freshman collects a third Big Ten award and an 'A' from his coach.

Heading into next week, Penn State will have a bye before it kicks off Big Ten play against Indiana.

Kickoff today is set for 3:30 on the Big Ten Network.

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, who scored on a power play, missed the team's first six games with a concussion. Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr also scored for the Penguins, who extended a seven-game unbeaten streak against the Panthers.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started the first seven games of the season for Pittsburgh, stopped 20 shots. Matt Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in June, served as the backup to Fleury after missing the first six games with a broken hand.

Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal and Mark Pysyk also scored for the Panthers, who have lost 11 of 12 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

James Reimer made 19 saves in his second start of the season (see full recap).

Kings top Blue Jackets in overtime
LOS ANGELES -- Alec Martinez scored 1:14 into overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Tuesday night for their third straight victory.

Drew Doughty scored the tying goal with 5:57 left in regulation for the Kings, who won their third straight overtime game after an 0-3-0 start to the season. Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and third-string goalie Peter Budaj stopped 19 shots in his third consecutive win.

Cam Atkinson scored a tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for Columbus. Brandon Saad also scored for the Jackets, who had won two straight after an 0-2-0 start.

Martinez ended it by putting a rebound into an open net for the defenseman's second goal of the season (see full recap).

Lightning strike for seven goals in win
TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos matched a career-high with four points -- two goals and two assists -- and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Frederik Andersen gave up seven goals on only 24 shots, the third time in five starts he has allowed at least five goals and fourth time he's allowed four or more. The 27-year-old has an .851 save percentage so far this season.

Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin added goals for Tampa Bay, while Ben Bishop made 40 saves.

William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews scored for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Lightning 43-24 (see full recap).

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles could be looking for a bigger name outside.

In need of a deep threat — and reportedly in talks about a trade for 49ers wideout Torrey Smith — the Eagles are interested in Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and attempting to make a move for the 2013 Pro Bowler, according to a report Tuesday night by Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports Radio.

We followed up with Allbright, who clarified the Eagles simply made an inquiry.

Jeffery, much more of a do-it-all, dynamic wide receiver than the one-dimensional Smith, is 26 years old and can become a free agent at season's end. He'll warrant good money, but would make the Eagles better in more ways than one compared to Smith.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder put up 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, followed by 85 catches, 1,133 yards receiving and 10 scores in 2014.

This season, he has 520 yards receiving and has yet to find the end zone playing for the quarterback-challenged Bears, who are 1-6 and more than likely thinking about next season.