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The Curious Case Of a 10-Win Season

Why am I talking about Tennessee on a Penn State blog?

NCAA Football: Penn State at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in three weeks, Penn State had to sweat for part of a half. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights gave the Lions everything they could handle through one quarter and a half, but eventually, the Nittany Lions’ talent took over, turning near Rutgers mistakes into actual Rutgers mistakes, while turning actual Penn State mistakes into non-mistakes.

Rutgers scored first, and, after Nicholas Singleton responded with a 100-yard kickoff return, the Scarlet Knights did it again! At 10-7, it looked like Rutgers might eclipse the highest scoring output they’ve had against Penn State as members of the Big Ten.

Penn State had other plans. The Nittany Lions returned a fumble for a touchdown as the first quarter closed out, then added a touchdown pass from Sean Clifford to Tyler Warren with about six minutes left in the second quarter, and another as the half came to a close on a 14-yard rush from Clifford, and what looked like a close contest early became an opportunity for more Drew Allar time with plenty of time left in the second half.

When it was all said and done, the Nittany Lions ended up handing Rutgers one of the most lopsided loss as Big Ten members. And, if you think about that, there were Chris Ash teams that held Penn State to fewer points than a Greg Schiano squad, with the most lopsided being the 39-0 drubbing during the 2016 season.

Penn State will now prepare for its final game of the season, one where there might be a bit of intrigue. Michigan State comes to State College at 5-6, after dropping a sure win against Indiana —they led by 17 at halftime. The Spartans, to avoid missing a bowl game in two of Mel Tucker’s first three seasons, will try to give Penn State everything it can handle. The problem, you ask? Indiana rushed for 257 yards against Michigan State. The team that could only muster 65 against Penn State, at home, found away to log nearly 300 yards on the ground in this game. That does not bode well for the Spartans’ bowl hopes.

So, allow me to put the cart before the horse for a second. Penn State will win 10 games, they would win every game by double digits except the first one, and, based on Saturday’s game results, will head to a New Year’s Six game for the fourth time in James Franklin’s 9 years with the program. And the best part of all that, the majority of the players who made this happen will be coming back, and reinforcements are coming in 2023.

It took a while, but Penn State may finally be at the point where the classes stack, and the dumb losses to teams they have no business losing to are in the rear view mirror, and the Lions can set their sights on closing the gap against the Big Two in the conference.

But first, let’s take care of business on November 26.