UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Blockbuster Bowl lost more of its glitter yesterday. A week after Penn State bowed out of the national championship picture, it relinquished rights as the best team in the East.
No. 20 Boston College knocked the No. 9 Nittany Lions from their Eastern pedestal yesterday with a stunning 35-32 upset before 96,130 at Beaver Stadium. And even though the Lions had a chance for a miracle comeback at the end, coach Joe Paterno knew the score on this crisp, football-perfect Saturday.
"They just beat us up," he said. "BC played very well. The score was not indicative of the difference between the two teams today."
Penn State (5-2) is bound for a New Year's Day appearance in the Blockbuster Bowl -- assuming it gets one more victory -- but the Lions may not have much on the line when they get there.
They lost last week's big showdown to Miami, 17-14, after winning their first five games.
Boston College (5-0-1) ended Penn State's 19-game winning streak against Eastern teams with an overwhelming offensive performance.
Foley torched the Penn State secondary for 344 yards and four touchdown passes -- three of them in the last four minutes of the first half.
The Eagles amassed 550 net yards, and at one point in the third quarter were cruising, 35-10.
It was the third time this season the Lions have given up 300-plus passing yards. Free safety Lee Rubin, who was beaten on two of the TD passes, said BC capitalized on the Lions' defensive strategy.
"We were in a two-deep zone most of the game," Rubin said. "In a two-deep zone, the middle of the field is suspect. They found the weakness and kept going at it.
BC, winning for the first time in Beaver Stadium, struck quickly in the second quarter when the game turned on a roughing-the-kicker penalty.
Penn State was leading, 10-7, on the first of Richie Anderson's three touchdown runs and a 29-yard field goal by V. J. Muscillo. The Lions seemingly had taken control of the game until Rubin led the charge against BC punter Jeff Beckley.
BC struck quickly, the touchdown coming on a 48-yard pass from Foley to Ivan Boyd over cornerback Cliff Dingle to give BC a 14-10 lead.
Foley needed seven plays to score on his next possession, hitting tight end Pete Mitchell with a 16-yard TD.
When BC got the ball again with 32 seconds left, they went for the knockout punch. Foley moved the team 67 yards in five plays, throwing a 29-yard touchdown pass to Mitchell with one second left.
Foley's fourth TD pass -- a 20-yarder to Greg Price -- put BC up 35-10 nine minutes into the second half. It also marked the beginning of a Penn State comeback.
"When they scored that last TD, I said we had to score to get some pride back," said Penn State quarterback John Sacca.
The offensive load was largely on Sacca's shoulders. While Anderson was held to one net yard rushing on 13 carries, Sacca went to the air 41 times, tying a school record set by Todd Blackledge in 1981.
Anderson's 1-yard TD dive late in the third quarter cut the deficit to 35-16. In the fourth quarter, Sacca teamed with O. J. McDuffie for a 7-yard TD pass, then hit Mike Archie for a two-point conversion pass. That made it 35-24.
Sacca had to leave the game on the next series when he reinjured his sprained right shoulder. With no warm-up at all, quarterback Kerry Collins completed passes to Justin Williams (24 yards) and to McDuffie (41 and 20 yards) and Anderson took it in from the 3.
Collins hit McDuffie (11 catches, 212 yards) for another two-point conversion pass that got Penn State within 35-32.
Then Penn State's Kyle Brady recovered an onside kick at the BC 46 and Collins had a chance to win it with 1:39 on the clock.
But on the first play, he threw for McDuffie on a deep streak pattern and was intercepted by 5-foot-8 cornerback Joe Kamara at the BC 17.
"I hung the ball up a little too much," Collins said.