In case you missed it, Penn State defeated Buffalo by the score of 45-13 Saturday evening.
Taken at face value, that seems about right. Buffalo is an okay Group of 5 team, but one that lost a lot from a 2018 squad that was a MAC division winner.
But the how of the game left a lot to be desired. With a young quarterback, the Bulls opted to leave six men in to protect and run the ball, followed by running the ball. When in doubt, they ran the ball. Then, finally, when they had run the ball as much as they could, Matt Myers would drop a dime for a big gain in the passing game.
And so it was that at halftime, the Lions found themselves trailing 10-7.
And so it was that despite a 38-3 second half, the Lions got demolished in some key statistical categories:
Total Yards: Buffalo - 429, Penn State - 357
First Downs: Buffalo - 22, Penn State 14
Time of Possession: Buffalo - 42:32, Penn State 17:28
Total Plays Ran: Buffalo - 90, Penn State - 46
And yet, in the most important statistical category, Penn State outscored Buffalo by 32 points.
And it’s games like these that you can squarely point to the roster, and the recruiting that James Franklin has done to see exactly how a game that can be so lopsided by the numbers can be so lopsided by the score.
On both sides of the ball, Penn State regularly rotated players. The 2s and 3s got some period playing time alongside the 1s. As a result, there was some offensive sputtering. There were missed tackles on defense. There were an ungodly amount of plays for the Bulls. But yet, in a fraction of the time, Penn State managed to blow out the opposition.
It won’t always be the case that the Lions can simply “out-athlete” their opponent, but on days when the team clearly isn’t in it from the start, being able to just fall back on superior talent and depth is sure nice to have.