Daniel Murray, Iowa Boot Penn State From College Football National Title Chase

Daniel Murray (1) rejoices after his 31-yard field goal sent Penn State to its first defeat.
Daniel Murray (1) rejoices after his 31-yard field goal sent Penn State to its first defeat. (By Charlie Neibergall -- Associated Press)
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By Luke Meredith
Associated Press
Sunday, November 9, 2008

IOWA CITY, Nov. 8 -- Penn State can't blame the BCS for this.

The Nittany Lions' perfect season and hopes for giving Coach Joe Paterno another national title were dashed by Iowa's backup place kicker.

Daniel Murray, who hadn't made a field goal since the season opener, hit a 31-yarder with a second left and the Hawkeyes rallied to stun the third-ranked Nittany Lions, 24-23.

All that talk about an unbeaten Penn State possibly being left out of the BCS national title game turned out to be premature. A third championship for the 81-year-old Paterno, who's had four unbeaten teams not win titles, is a long shot now.

Shonn Greene rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns, and Ricky Stanzi bounced back from an interception and a fumble to lead the Hawkeyes (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten) on their game-winning drive, which came after Daryll Clark threw just his third interception of the season.

Murray had lost the regular field-goal duties to freshman Trent Mossbrucker and was relegated to kickoffs. But with the winds swirling and strong, Coach Kirk Ferentz opted for experience and Murray's strong leg.

He drilled it down the middle, sending Iowa's freezing fans spilling onto the field.

"I've always dreamed about it," said Murray, who grew up in Iowa City. "I kept hoping and hoping I'd get my chance."

The Nittany Lions were third behind Alabama and Texas Tech in the last BCS standings. They'll drop Sunday. The Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth are the Nittany Lions' main goals now.

"We need to keep our heads up. We can still have a heck of a year," said Paterno, who again coached from the press box and got around with a cane because of a sore leg and hip.

Iowa was down 23-14 heading into the fourth quarter. But Greene scored his second touchdown, from six yards out to make it 23-21 with 9:20 left.

On the next possession, Penn State looked as if it got a break when Iowa was called for a roughing the punter penalty that had the Hawkeyes seething. The Nittany Lions kept the ball and continued their time-consuming march.

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