After a truly rough first half, Penn State rebounded for a 39-24 victory over Michigan State on Saturday in Beaver Stadium.
The win ensured the Nittany Lions kept hold of the most glorious rivalry trophy in all the world, the Land-Grant Trophy.
Here are our three top takeaways from that victory.
1. This team has a bit more grit than it showed early on in the season
One of the many issues that Penn State had early in the season when it started 0-5, was that the Nittany Lions didn’t know how to respond to getting hit in the mouth. As soon as things would go wrong, it felt like the floodgates would open. On Saturday, things went disastrously wrong in the second quarter and Penn State entered halftime down 21-10. Perhaps a bit surprisingly, the Nittany Lions responded in the affirmative, outscore Sparty 29-3 in the second half for what would become a relatively comfortable victory. If one thing has changed from week one to week nine, it’s that Penn State learned how to take a punch.
2. Pee Dub is really, really real.
Listen, I tried to tell everyone. I shouted to any who would listen that Parker Washington is and would be the real deal. Turns out, I may have undersold it. Washington was awesome again on Saturday. The freshman from Texas made four catches for 95 yards and two scores. He now has 35 catches on the year for 473 yards, both second best on the team to Jahan Dotson. Washington’s also got a team-best with six touchdowns, which is tied with Dotson. If Washington were to not improve throughout his time at Penn State, he’d still finish with impressive production, but something tells me the best is yet to come.
3. Jaquan Brisker should take his extra year of eligibility
2020 was supposed to be a breakout season for former JuCo product Jaquan Brisker. While Brisker has flashed at times, he’s unfortunately be lumped in with a safety pairing that has been glaring for much of year. Against Michigan State, Brisker flashed big time. The senior made nine tackles, six of which were solo and 1.5 for loss, and he added a first-quarter interception that included a nice return before an unfortunate fumble. Add two QB hurries to the mix and you have yourself a damn good game. Maybe Brisker tests well and vaults himself into the third or fourth round of the draft, but he’d be well served by taking the extra year of eligibility the NCAA is granting for this season and trying to prove himself as one of the nation’s best safeties next year.