The junior from Valparaiso, Ind., was the subject of talk for most of the 2012 season. At one point, O'Brien held open tryouts, as he does several times a year, for a placekicker and Ficken won the job every week in practice the coach said.
After going 3-for-3 in last week's win over Syracuse, Ficken drilled a 39-yarder late in the first half to break the tie he held with Craig Fayak (1990-93).
RETIREMENT: Penn State announced it honored a player with a retired jersey number for the first time in program history.
The university announced at halftime it had retired John Cappelletti's No. 22 as part of the celebration honoring the 40th anniversary of the unbeaten 1973 team. Cappelletti is Penn State's only Heisman Trophy winner. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
Freshman running back Akeel Lynch, who had his first career carry on Saturday, will wear the number for the remainder of his career before No. 22 is officially retired.
BUT FIRST: Lynch, who redshirted last year, did not carry the ball in last week's opener but saw first significant action Saturday and made the most of it, running for 108 yards on 13 carries. He also scored Penn State's final touchdown.
He and teammate Bill Belton both surpassed the 100-yard mark in the win. Belton, the starting tailback in last year's opener before an injury, ran for a career-high 108 yards on just nine carries. Belton scored twice, including a career-long 51-yard burst in the fourth quarter.
OFF AND RUNNING: Freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg made his first career start at home and after some early jitters, he delivered. The son of former Susquehanna University quarterback Erick Hackenberg, Christian went 23-of-33 for a PSU freshman record 311 yards and a TD after starting 1-of-5. He also had a fumble, which was picked up and returned for Eastern Michigan's only score, and was intercepted in the red zone.