With the sun setting in Piscataway, Rutgers held an early 10-7 lead over the Nittany Lions. The Penn State offense looked out of whack, going scoreless on their first five series. The special teams wasn’t much better, with a couple Barney Amor shanks and a long 66-yard kickoff return to show for itself. The makings of an upset for the Scarlet Knights was certainly in the air.
Until it wasn’t. When Gavin Wimsatt found Shameen Jones wide open in the end zone to make it 10-7, little did everyone know that that would be Rutgers’ last points scored on the day. From there on out, it was all Penn State both offensively and — especially — defensively
Let’s start with the defense, a unit that tortured Rutgers quarterback Gavin Wimsatt all day long. The former four-star product didn’t look anything like that with the Penn State defense after him, as he finished the game 10-of-29 for 122 yards for 1 touchdown, 1 interception, and 1 fumble — the latter of which went for a Ji’Ayir Brown scoop n’ score.
Really though, you could highlight a number of defensive players on Saturday evening. Curtis Jacobs, back from injury, caused the fumble that led to Brown’s touchdown. Kobe King led the team with 6 tackles and had a scoop n’ score himself. Abdul Carter was relentless on blitzes and getting after the running back in the backfield. Johnny Dixon very well should have had a pick six if it wasn’t brought back for a ticky-tacky block in the back call.
The point being, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has this defense doing what it should be doing: dominating. The Nittany Lions defense once again had double-digit TFLs — 15 tonight — which just highlights how he has this group firing on all cylinders.
Offensively, despite the slow start, it was a sound game for the offense. Sean Clifford was mostly efficient, finishing the game 17-of-26 for 157 yards, 1 touchdown, and a big fat 0 turnovers. But, like we’ve seen the last couple weeks, Penn State dominated on the ground, this time racking up 237 yards thanks to strong performances from Kaytron Allen (11 carries for 117 yards) and Nick Singleton (9 carries for 62 yards).
This game won’t go down in the memory book as one of the more impactful wins of the James Franklin era, but on a day where Michigan and Ohio State had to survive upset bids from Illinois and Maryland, it’s a beautiful sight to see that Penn State continues to take care of business.