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3 Takeaways: Penn State Survives Against Michigan

It was fun, it was frustrating, it was stressful, but above all else it was a win over Michigan

Michigan v Penn State Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Offense goes into a shell after a hot start

After scoring 21-points in the first 16 minutes of Saturday’s game, Penn State’s offense went into a shell and managed to score just 7 points in the remaining 44 minutes of the game. This has been a common occurrence for Penn State in big games and it struck again on Saturday. Whether it be conservative play calling or a failure to adjust to the other teams’ adjustments, it’s truly amazing how much Penn State’s offense begins to struggle after taking big leads over top opponents. We saw against Ohio State in each of the last two seasons and against Michigan, a once 21-0 lead quickly became a 21-14 game and then a 28-21 game.

KJ “BIG PLAY” Hamler

On Saturday morning, head coach James Franklin made an appearance on College Gameday and said the Nittany Lions had to get Hamler 12 or 13 touches a game. That wasn’t the case on Saturday night but Hamler still had one of his best performances as a Nittany Lion.

Hamler against his home state power program had 6 receptions for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns. Those two touchdowns came on passes of 53-yards and 25-yards, both were dimes from Sean Clifford.

Hamler also carried the ball twice for 6 yards. This included the game clinching first down in the final minute.

Not enough Noah Cain

Entering the final eight minutes of the final drive when this was begun, Noah Cain had a total of four carries for 12-yards. I’d like to repeat, a running back who’s had two back-to-back games of 100+ yards had four carries in Penn State’s biggest game of the season heading into the final half of the fourth quarter. That is seemingly irresponsible from Penn State’s coaching staff.

While the rushing attack wasn’t terrible, Noah Cain provides Penn State with a running back who can simply get yards that the other backs couldn’t get. If Noah Cain isn’t hurt, it’s simply absurd that he didn’t get to carry the ball more on Saturday.

Cain returned to the field for the four minute offense when Penn State took over with 2:01 remaining in the game. On the ensuing drive Cain carried the ball twice for 7 yards. However, the Nittany Lion offense needed to go to Cain sooner.