The past two weeks have not been kind to the Nittany Lions. Penn State went from legitimate College Football Playoff contenders to fringe New Year’s Six team in the span of two weeks, both in heart breaking fashion.
For a second week in a row, Penn State would have to avoid having a team beat them twice, and early in the game it looked that would be exactly what was going to happen. A botched kickoff led to Rutgers’ first points of the game. Saquon Barkley let the kick bounce, expecting the ball to sail past him. Instead, it moved forward and a Rutgers defender jumped on it immediately. It led to a Rutgers score. A few bad drives on both offense and defense led to another Scarlet Knights field goal, and suddenly Penn State found itself down 6-0 midway in the second quarter.
Both the offense and defense woke up at the same time, however, and the Nittany Lions started to stop the Scarlet Knights on defense, while also finding the end zone themselves on the offensive side of the ball. By the end of the third quarter, a 6-0 deficit would turn into a 28-6 lead, and that would be all she wrote.
Rutgers, like every other team before them, found it especially easy to find shelter in the Penn State backfield, making life hard for Saquon Barkley for the majority of the game. Rutgers, like every other team before them, was not able to shut down Barkley all game, as he still managed to find the end zone twice anyway, even if he only went for 35 yards on the ground.
After it was all said and done, Penn State did what was expected of them. They put a less talented team away, overcame adversity in the process, and lived to fight another day. 10 wins this season is still a possibility, and the Nittany Lions are two games away from reaching that goal.
The Nittany Lions stay home against a Nebraska team coming off a bad loss to Minnesota. The Mike Riley experiment is likely over after this season. Game and network to be determined.