November 11, 2012 at 12:47 AM
LINCOLN, Neb. — Strong wind gusts at Memorial Stadium didn't affect Sam Ficken's kicking. They affected his vision, though.
Penn State's kicker had a piece of debris fly into his eye shortly after kickoff in Nebraska's 32-23 win. But the sophomore didn't let that bother him, as he connected on all three of his field goal attempts.
Ficken has now made eight of his last nine attempts, which includes a streak of six makes in a row.
He infamously had a nightmare contest against Virginia two months ago in which he was 1-for-5 on field goals and missed an extra point in a one-point loss. But since the Virginia contest, Ficken has hit nine of his 12 field goal attempts.
"Everybody wants to go back to that Virginia game, but he's exactly what you need in a kicker," junior punter Alex Butterworth said. "He has a short memory, he's already forgotten about it, he's moving on. Obviously he's improved a ton."
Ficken did wear sunglasses on the sideline in order to protect his eye, and he heard about it from his teammates.
"He wanted to take his sunglasses off every minute he was wearing them, because I was making fun of him for it," Butterworth said.
Butterworth also played well in a contest which had winds up to 35 mph. On three punts, Butterworth averaged 47.7 yards and pinned the Cornhuskers inside the 20-yard line once.
When going into the wind, Butterworth used a Rugby style punt, which worked well. Nebraska also fumbled one of Butterworth's punts, which resulted in Penn State's second touchdown.
Butterworth said he thought he played one of his better games of the season.
All those guys on defense and offense are there working their ass off," Butterworth said. "When you make a play for them, when you make it easier for them, there's no better feeling. The best thing is complementary football. The special teams helps the defense, the defense helps the offense."