James Franklin would never admit it. He’ll give you the “all opponents are important” speech, and emphasize that no opponent is more important than the next on the schedule. But we all know better. James Franklin doesn’t like Maryland, and whenever he can, he rubs their noses in it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I too don’t like Maryland, I, along with dozens of us (dozens!), have embraced the relationship with the Terrapins, which started all the way in 2014 with handshake-gate. That was a Maryland win. It kept going, a close game in 2015 which Penn State won by a point. Then James Franklin started to get some talent in the program.
Add Saturday’s 51-15 performance to the tally of total demolitions at the hands of James Franklin to Maryland. We can speculate on the reasons all day, but fact remains: No Big Ten team has been the recipient of Franklin’s wrath than Maryland, who, despite their two wins in the series as Big Ten foes, is losing by an average of more than 20 points.
It all started as it has for most Penn State games this season, with defensive stand to take the ball away from the Terps, when a 4th down pass to Corey Dyches fell just short of the mark. Penn State drove the 44 yards to score first, a Drew Allar pass to Dante Cephas that awoke something in the receiver the rest of the way.
Next, Maryland drove 52 yards, only to fumble the ball at the Penn State 32. After trading punts, the Lions once again drove down the field. This time for 79 yards, this time from a formation that included both Allar and Beau Pribula, and ended with a shovel pass to Theo Johnson as Allar was about to be taken down. Allar’s awareness and ability to improvise led to a two touchdown lead for the Lions.
Maryland’s first score of the game came on a roughing the punter penalty, and, like their second score of the game, the only way the Terrapins would move the ball on Penn State the rest of the way was when aided by penalties.
The Lions, on the other hand, looked as loose as they had since the West Virginia game, and Allar as confident and in control as we’ve seen him all season. Beating a dead drum, it truly seems like finally throwing that interception opened up whatever gate needed to be open in Allar’s game, and now he’s playing with the opposite mentality that he had all season. Gone was the desire to avoid mistakes, and a new desire to move the ball down the field was on full display. Not only that, Allar took off and ran his fair share of times, something we had yet to see, at least to this degree, this season.
Four touchdowns and three field goals later, the Nittany Lions looked like the dominant team we saw at the beginning of the season, and, with Michigan coming to town, it couldn’t come at a better time.
Stats and Storylines
53 - Receiving yards by Dante Cephas in this game, to go along with two touchdowns. Welcome to the party, friend!
So close - Kaytron Allen had 91 yards rushing on the day. The ever-elusive 100-yard game remains so!
4 - Number of turnovers the defense forced, not counting the turnover on downs. Here’s to hoping they repeat that performance on November 11!