The Penn State Nittany Lions were victorious over the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers by a final of 28 to 3. In the surprisingly impressive Stripe Out environment, Penn State controlled the game on the ground, with Akeel Lynch and Saquon Barkley both rushing for over 100 yards. The defense was its usual dominant self, never allowing Rutgers to get much of anything going.
Coming into this game, the general feeling was one of concern, given that the last time Penn State played a defense full of talent, the offense didn't fare too well. However, Rutgers' own issues seemed to have been too much to overcome, and Penn State ensured this game was over before it even started.
It's refreshing to see that when Penn State needed to make a statement, they delivered. There are still a few things the Nittany Lions needs to work on, but a performance like this one inspires confidence in the team in the coming weeks. They have three more manageable games left on the schedule to work out the kinks before things ramp up in the second half, which is much more challenging road ahead.
Three things to know
1) Steady improvement on offense. While it didn't always look pretty, Penn State is starting to get some consistency on offense. On their first touchdown drive, they went 80 yards in 12 plays. This would have been the longest drive of the season if they hadn't followed it up with a 90-yard touchdown drive. Christian Hackenberg still threw an interception with no touchdown passes, but he was able to move the ball and find receivers throughout the night, something he hadn't done consistently since the Pinstripe Bowl game against Boston College.
2) The young guys continue to impress. With DeAndre Thompkins' touchdown run tonight, Penn State has 2 wideouts with rushing touchdowns for the first time since 2008, when Chaz Powell and Derrick Williams accomplished the feat. Saquon Barkley was all over the field, rushing for 195 yards and 2 touchdowns. On defense, both Grant Haley and John Reid notched interceptions, while Troy Apke forced a fumble which was recovered by Reid.
3) Chris Gulla wants to punt. This week saw Chris Gulla take over the punting responsibilities, and he did not disappoint. Rutgers did not start a single drive from beyond the 25 yard line today, and that was thanks to Gulla's leg. His efforts combined with long kickoffs from Julius, ensured that Rutgers had to drive the length of the field on every possession.
This game included everything Penn State needed in order to gain some confidence moving forward. With a San Diego State team that is not a pushover by any means coming to Beaver Stadium next week, we should get a good feel on whether this performance was an anomaly or a sign of things to come.