Don’t look now folks, but Penn State is technically on a winning streak heading into a potential last game of the season against Michigan State.’
The Nittany Lions continued to roll on the ground offensively and defensively they stifled Rutgers all game long on the way to a comfortable, if not so beautiful, 23-7 victory over Rutgers.
Here are our three takeaways from that contest.
1. The Nittany Lions have the athletes to be successful
Not to take anything away from the Penn State coaching staff on Saturday, but Penn State simply just had better athletes than the Scarlet Knights.
Both the offensive and defensive lines dominated. The running backs made plays. The linebackers flew around the field and the corners shut down the Rutgers wideouts. It was thoroughly dominating physically.
While, sure, Rutgers isn’t the most athletic team in the Big Ten, the gulf in class was extremely wide. If there were any concerns that Penn State didn’t have the athletes to be competing for 10 wins and a NY6 bowl right now, those should be gone.
The reality is that a well-prepared Penn State team with a quarterback who is a bit more dynamic would be a top-15 team this season. Hopefully that’s the team we see next time around.
2. The running back room is still very good
You know what’s cool about having four very, very talented running backs to choose from? When your Doak Walker award nominee needs to medically retire, you still have a ton of quality behind him.
Devyn Ford, running with a heavy heart after the tragic passing of his brother the week before, had maybe his best game as a Nittany Lion. He ran decisively and aggressively for 65 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries.
Keyvone Lee continues to be a revelation, leading the team with 95 yards on 17 carries. Lee has establish himself as one of the nation’s best freshmen backs. Caziah Holmes, meanwhile, continues to get his feet wet while showing glimpses of the elusiveness that has Penn State coaches excited.
3. Welcome back, Keaton Ellis
After being in and out of the lineup all year due to injury, Keaton Ellis made his first start of the year on Saturday and looked fantastic, helping hold Rutgers to just 122 yards passing on the day.
It’s not just that Ellis himself is very good. It’s that he makes Penn State’s corner depth exceedingly better. He and Joey Porter locked down the two outside corner spots while Daequan Hardy impressed in increased time in the slot. Add to that Marquis WIlson and the Nittany Lions have reason to believe that group could be one of the best in the Big Ten next season.