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PSU season snapshot: 2018

A daily series featuring each Penn State football season from 1947-2019:

Year: 2018

Coach: James Franklin

Final record: 9-4

Final ranking: AP No. 17, Coaches No. 17

Regular-season wins: Appalachian State, Pitt, Kent State, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Rutgers, Maryland

Regular-season losses: Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan

Bowl game: Lost to Kentucky, 27-24, in the Citrus Bowl

Team stat leaders: Miles Sanders rushed for 1,274 yards; Trace McSorley passed for 2,530 yards and 18 TDs; KJ Hamler caught 42 passes for 754 yards; Blake Gillikin averaged 44.0 yards per punt; Micah Parsons had 82 tackles; Yetus Gross-Matos had 8 sacks

All-Americans: None

Neil Rudel’s take: After consecutive 11-win seasons, the Lions leveled off. They started with a near-disastrous loss to Appalachian State but survived in overtime to win the season opener 45-38. Their 4-0 record built anticipation for No. 4 Ohio State’s visit, but the Nits again squandered a fourth-quarter, two-score lead to the Buckeyes, punctuated by a suspect late play call. On fourth-and-5, new offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne, who replaced Joe Moorhead, called for a handoff to Miles Sanders, even though QB Trace McSorley had rushed for 175 yards and carried the offense. Rahne felt some wrath. The Lions lost the next week to Michigan State and were drubbed at the Big House, 42-7. A 9-3 finish was a little hollow, and it was exposed even more by Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl as the Wildcats jumped out to an early lead and held on to win 27-24. After the game, a half-dozen PSU upperclassmen announced they were bypassing a final year of eligibility to declare for the NFL Draft, including Altoona’s Kevin Givens, a three-year contributor on the defensive line. McSorley finished his career with a school-record 9,899 passing yards, sixth most in Big Ten history, and set a record for most wins as a PSU starting QB (31, passing Todd Blackledge and Tony Sacca).

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