And breathe out.
Penn State got the job done in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday night, albeit in less that gorgeous fashion.
The defense continues to impress while the offense was up and down but came up big when it mattered most. Now it’s time for us to assess where our stock holdings are at.
If I never here that stupid stat about road wins against ranked teams it’ll be for the best. James Franklin finally got that stupid monkey off his back and coached a pretty good game in the process. He was aggressive when it was time to be aggressive. He was conservative when it was time to be conservative, and he shortened the running back rotation like he asked for.
That shortened running back rotation meant a chance for freshman Noah Cain to shine, and boy did he seize the spotlight. Cain carried the ball 22 times for over 100 yards and a touchdown, including one huge third-down conversion to put the game away. Cain may not have been the starter, and he may not be the starter going forward, but that really doesn’t matter. It’s clear he’s going to get the bulk of the carries and will be in the game in the situations where running the ball in imperative.
The offensive line
Cain is able to do this for a handful of reasons. The largest part of that is because the run blocking, particularly in the interior, was very good on Saturday night. Steven Gonzalez, Michal Menet and Mike Miranda regular created creases for Cain to hammer through. Ricky Rahne went a bit more straight forward with his play calls, ditching some RPOs for designed runs with pulling linemen. On the outside, Rasheed Walker and Will Fries were up to the task in pass protection. Penn State gave up three sacks on the night, but only one after the first drive. All told, Walker held up well against A.J. Epenesa who will likely going in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Big Bobby Breeze may have made himself a ton of money against the Hawkeyes. Windsor, a redshirt senior who was made a game captain, was unblockable all night. By the time the final quarter came around, it seemed like Windsor was in the Iowa backfield almost immediately after every snap. He tallied 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss and, perhaps most importantly, pressured Nate Stanley into a high throw that resulted in an interception and eventually the game-winning touchdown.
Big Ten Refereeing
I’m not sure John O’Neill had any value to begin with, so I went with the conference as whole. It’s patently absurd that O’Neill is still allowed to work Penn State games at this point. Not only do his games always seem to be lopsided with penalty calls, but he’s now had three massive reviews that were just objectively incorrect and could’ve well cost the Nittany Lions a game for the third time. It’s a black eye for the conference.
The is admittedly pretty harsh, but we have high standards for TCF. He had a couple plays on Saturday night where he wasn’t able to get his head around and had he done so he might’ve had an interception. Expect a bounce back performance from him against Michigan, now is a good time to pick up his stock if anyone is selling.