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Three Key Takeaways from Penn State’s Depressing Victory over Rutgers

I never knew a victory could feel so dissatisfying...

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The offense was flat out atrocious

34.3 points. That’s how many points Rutgers allowed on average entering Saturday’s game. The Scarlet Knights also gave up an average of 413 yards per game. But somehow, Penn State’s offense made Rutgers actually look like a top-tier FBS defense. A program that has been in shambles for years kept one of the most talented teams (on paper) to just 20 points and 322 yards.

The worst part about it is that for Penn State the game plan should’ve been pretty simple. Run the ball. Run the ball to the left, run it to the right, run it up the middle. Just run the ball. Why? Because that’s where teams have punished the Rutgers defense throughout the season. Entering Saturday, they allowed 230 yards on the ground per game.

Penn State was able to run the ball perfectly fine against a much more talented Wisconsin team but it appears Ricky Rahne thought throwing the ball was the best decision. The play calling didn’t become run heavy until late in the fourth quarter as they tried to kill the clock. It was an embarrassing offensive effort, and Penn State will have problems if this is the offense that shows up next week against Maryland.

I’m not going to get into Trace’s performance. He was able to recover nicely in the second half but the first half was simply a disaster. It’s not an overstatement to say that he was a liability for parts of the game.

At least the defense showed up

Another week, another strong building block for Penn State’s defense. The defense kept Rutgers to just 7 points and 234 yards. While they struggled in the second half when Rutgers opened up their run game a bit, it still was a strong performance for the defense.

The defense was lead by Koa Farmer and Jan Johnson on defense with 8 tackles each while Shareef Miller led the team with 2.5 tackles for a loss. They had 11 total tackles for a loss and 4 sacks. Was more desired from the defense at times? Absolutely, but in the end, Penn State needed a strong day out of the defense and they got just that. Brent Pry has done a phenomenal job with this group lately and outside of the second half of the Michigan game— otherwise, it’s been a great stretch for them on defense.

Next week won’t be easy

This may be cheating as it’s not a takeaway from Penn State’s game, and I was originally going to talk about the freshman here, but I’ll save those thoughts for the redshirt report on Wednesday. But as Penn State struggled against Rutgers, the Fighting Matt Canada’s of Maryland gave Ohio State everything they could handle, losing in overtime on a well-called (but poorly executed) 2-point conversion attempt.

If Penn State plays like they did against Rutgers, there is a significant chance that they lose to Maryland on Saturday. You’ll have to wait for my prediction this upcoming week as I’m pretty 50-50 right now on who will win next weekend’s matchup.