Say it with me now, folks: 2016 Big Ten East Champs.
Trace McSorley was on fire, lighting up the Michigan State defense for 376 yards passing and four touchdowns. On a day where Saquon Barkley was neutralized, Trace was able to take matters into his own hands (and with his legs). His touchdown strike to Mike Gesicki was one of the most No, no, no, why are you throwing tha- YEAHHH TOUCHDOWN, BITCHES type of plays that I have ever seen.
Running Back: C
This may be a generous grade, considering the fact that PSU was held to 77 total rushing yards and Saquon Barkley picked up a whopping 14 yards on 12 carries before leaving with an injury midway through the third quarter. However, Barkley did score his lone touchdown in his signature ‘Saquon Leap’ fashion, and Andre Robinson stepped in by scoring a pair of touchdowns.
Wide Receiver/Tight End: A
It was the Chris Godwin show, as the junior wideout caught five balls for 135 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His go-ahead touchdown with PSU trailing 12-10 coming out of halftime turned the momentum of this game permanently in the Lions’ favor. Shout-out also goes to Mike Gesicki for his Allen Robinson-ish touchdown grab with two defenders on him.
Offensive Line: C
While they gave Trace enough time to lob bombs down the field, the run blocking was downright abysmal. Rarely did it seem like the line was able to open up holes for Barkley (or whoever else was carrying the ball for PSU) to run through, which is what keeps this grade from being higher.
Defensive Line: B
Yes, they did get pushed around early on by Sparty’s offensive line, but the ‘Wild Dogs’ came out in the second half as if they had been let off their leashes and pushed back. The end result was three sacks and 5.5 tackles for a loss.
In his final game at Beaver Stadium, Brandon Bell went out with a bang, racking up 18 total tackles. Manny Bowen also racked up nine tackles of his own, including a sack. They had some trouble with wrapping up and stopping the run at times, but overall, a pretty solid performance from this unit.
While this unit gave up 234 yards through the air, they did tighten up in the red zone, forcing Sparty to kick field goals on all four of their trips down there. Marcus Allen’s jarring hit on a Sparty receiver who appeared to have a first down catch at mid-field to knock the ball out is the play that sticks out the most in my mind from this unit.
Special Teams: B+
Tyler Davis nailed his lone field goal attempt and remained perfect on extra points in his career. Blake Gillikin averaged a solid 47 yards on his four punts, never allowing Sparty to have a short field to drive on. Joey Julius sent a few more balls short of the end zone than usual, but overall, was just fine. The return game was non-existent on punts and kick returns were rather pedestrian, but at least there were no catastrophic turnovers.