Folks have been waiting for the other shoe to drop against the Nittany Lions for over a month. After what many considered a fluky win against Ohio State, it has been a waiting game of “when will the ‘real’ Penn State show up? You know, the one who lost to Michigan and Pitt.” With one game left on the schedule, we’re still waiting.
We did, however, almost have an opportunity for things to start terribly for the Nittany Lions. Miles Sanders muffed the opening kickoff, which Rutgers recovered. However, they were unable to do anything with the free gift they received. The remainder of the first half was an exercise on missed opportunities for the Nittany Lions, having four different opportunities to score touchdowns, and only coming away with three field goals.
It took until the second half, but the Penn State offense woke up and remembered they were playing Rutgers. A blocked punt right off Rutgers’s first possession of the third quarter led to the first touchdown of the game for either team. Quickly thereafter, Penn State was pouring the points the way we all expected.
It was very apparent that Saquon Barkley wasn’t going for the home run in this game, as he’s been known to do in other games. He took what the defense gave him, which resulted in a lot of manageable gains, with the occasional big run mixed in. This was especially useful due to the rain, and the fact that it was clear Penn State just wanted to go in, do their thing, and leave without any more injuries.
This is yet another game where there isn’t much to say. Penn State went on the road, faced a team that was severely overmatched, and did enough to put the game away early enough to give backups some run. They also left with no major injuries, which this team cannot afford any more of. Now the Lions get to focus on the last game of their schedule, and hope the pieces fall into place for something more.
Three Key Observations
1) Four. - Rutgers has been shut out in four games this season. I don’t know when’s the last time that happened to them, but I’d have to assume it’s been a long time. This team is terrible.
2) Everyone won. - Both Michigan and Ohio State found themselves in uncomfortable situations against their respective opponents, but came out with a win. This sets up for an exciting thanksgiving weekend, where we may not know who’s won the East until the last games are played.
3) Missed opportunities. - Although Penn State ended up winning by a large margin, the game could have been even worse for Rutgers. Penn State made four trips to the redzone and came away with field goals on three of them, and nothing on the fourth. They’ll need to execute better if they want to avoid the same uncomfortable situation Ohio State found itself in earlier today.
Penn State ends its season next Saturday against the Michigan State Spartans. If all goes well, James Franklin will have Joey Julius running for scores in the fourth quarters. Game is likely to kick off at 3:30 on the ESPN family of networks.