It’s often said that the box score doesn’t tell the whole story of a game. In the case of this year’s Cotton Bowl, that would be wrong as the box score says it all: 396 rushing yards for Penn State as it took down No. 17 Memphis 53-39.
Three. Hundred. Ninety. Six. Rushing. Yards.
Sure, there were other things that happened throughout the game. Memphis moved the ball well, but couldn’t find the endzone much of the time — the Tigers had to settle for six (!) field goals.
Micah Parsons was a savage, putting up 13 tackles, 3 TFLs, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and the entire reason for Garrett Taylor’s pick-six touchdown. If there was a college football fan who didn’t know who Micah Parsons was heading into today, that should have completely changed. He’s the best linebacker in the country, and folks, we still get one more year of him in Happy Valley.
But for everything that happened, it all comes back to Penn State’s ability to run the football. Journey Brown had 202 yards on 16 carries. Noah Cain had 92 yards on 15 carries. Ricky Slade had 58 yards on 5 carries.
Sometimes football is a simple game. For as close as the game was at times, it was tough to envision a scenario where Penn State was going to lose the game — because when you average 7.5 yards per carry, it’s nearly impossible to lose.
While many fans weren’t excited about a Cotton Bowl matchup with Memphis, it turned out to be a fun, exciting game. And perhaps more importantly, some extra momentum for the program heading into the offseason. With this victory, it gives Penn State its third 11-win season in the last four years — an impressive feat given where the Nittany Lions were in 2015.