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33 Random Thoughts on Penn State’s Black Friday Shutout of Michigan State

The Nittany Lions walloped the Spartans to close out the 2023 regular season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 24 Penn State at Michigan State Photo by Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
  1. Black Friday is my favorite day of the year. You survived the holiday, sleep in a little, and enjoy some weekday college football with a giant plate of leftovers. It also used to come with a built-in excuse to stay in (“Better just stay in today, it’s too crazy out there with all those shoppers”), but that’s not as useful with most people doing their Black Friday shopping online. I did venture out for a quick errand and made it back in one piece in a resonable amount of time.
  2. A prime time game with Penn State on Black Friday was just icing on the cake this year. I could get used to the Nittany Lions becoming one of the teams who regulalrly play that day.
  3. Playing in a domed NFL stadium gave the game an additional special feel to it, and it was nice hearing about players from the Detroit area returning to their hometown and bringing a large group of guests with them (Kalen and Kobe King, Jaylen Reed to name a few).
  4. Michigan State had more than its share of struggles this season, but to its credit they never packed it in. They entered the game winning two of their last three despite all the off-the-field turmoil, late transfer exits, and a slew of injuries to key players.
  5. I was expecting the players to look faster in a dome, and boy did they deliver. The defense lwas flying around the field all night while the offense was finally able to break several big plays.
  6. It was great to see Dante Cephas getting involved early, catching Drew Allar’s first pass of the day for a 14-yard gain. It would be nice to have Cephas back for another year, but he may be ready to move on to the next level.
  7. Alex Felkins might be the biggest unsung hero of the team this season. He kicked off scoring with a 49-yard field goal on the first drive, and the Nittany Lions stayed well ahead the rest of the way. Felkins started the season as a back-up, but was able to step in and provide a reliable presence while booting several long field goals in sloppy conditions in a season with an abnormal amount of rainy Saturdays.
  8. Michigan State had its best drive of the game on their first possession, traveling 46 yards before Reed’s interception. It was somewhat standard for the Penn State defense — getting things figured out during the first drive before going into lockdown mode.
  9. Kaytron Allen reeled off a 50-yard run on the following drive, a sign of things to come for the evening. It was refreshing to see explosive plays on the ground after struggling to do so throughout the year.
  10. I don’t put any blame on Allen, Nicholas Singleton or the offensive line for the lack of explosive run plays this season. The offense allowed defenses to only defend a certain part of the field, which is going to take away opportunities to make it to the edge and/or make a man miss for a big play.
  11. Felkins had a rare miss to end t he drive.Fortunately, all of the misses from the season came in blowout victories and didn’t have much impact on the game.
  12. Michigan State went three-and-out on their second drive. Lockdown mode achieved.
  13. The big plays continued as Singleton took a screen pass and raced down the sideline for 53 yards. Tyler Warren had an outstanding block to help spring the big gain.
  14. In one of the few bad moments of the night for Penn State, Allar was sacked on 3rd and goal from the five, forcing another field goal attempt. The Nittany Lions held a 6-0 lead in the early moments of the second quarter.
  15. The Spartans followed with a three-and-out that went 11 yards backwards. It was a trend that continued throughout the night as Michigan State struggled just to get to the line of scrimmage.
  16. Singleton contributed 46 yards on the next drive, which ended with Allar finding Allen for a two-yard touchdown pass as the Nittany Lions found the end zone for the first time.
  17. Be honest — did it feel like the game was over once it reached 13-0? Even if the offense completely shut down, I didn’t see the defense allowing two touchdowns the rest of the night.
  18. Michigan State had its second best drive of the game, going for 29 yards. However, an intentional grounding call contributed to the drive stalling with a punt on 4th and 31.
  19. One of the most impressive plays of the game came when Chop Robinson and Adissa Isaac both came flying off the edge and met the Spartans running back as soon as he took the handoff. The pure speed and disruptiveness of those two made so many other things possible for the defense and forced offenses to limit their gameplans.
  20. The first half ended on an appropriate note, as Curtis Jacobs and Johnnie Dixon combined for a sack.
  21. You have to give Katin Houser credit. He had to know the offensive line wasn’t capable of protecting him, but he kept getting up and hung in there to try to get something going.
  22. Michigan State received the second half kickoff with a chance to make things interesting by cutting the lead to 13-7. Instead, the Penn State defense pushed them backwards 13 yards on yet another three-and-out.
  23. The offense had a chance to put the game away for good and did just that. Allar found KeAndre Lambert-Smith on a 22-yard gain, to get things moving, and eventually conected with him on the two-point conversion to put the Nittany Lions ahead 22-0. It was great to see Lambert-Smith making plays after a few slow weeks at the end of the season.
  24. Also, was the a Beau Pribula sighting? Pribula entered the game in the red zone, and completed not one, but two passes, including an eight-yard touchdown to Tyler Warren.
  25. Warren and Theo Johnson were such an important part of the offense all season. Big, athletic tight ends with great hands (we’ll excuse a few drops along the way) are an inexperienced quarterback’s best friends.
  26. Omari Evans was everywhere during the Blue-White Game, then kinda disappeared in the fall. Allar’s beauty of a toss to Evans for 60 yards is a hopeful sign of things to come.
  27. Cam Miller has been impressive whenever he’s stepped foot on the field this season. He seems more than ready to be Penn State’s next standout in the secondary.
  28. Singleton looked like a kid on Christmas, finally having that game with several home run plays. You could tell how meaningful that last touchdown was for him to cap off the 42-0 demolishing of the Spartans.
  29. A 42-0 conference victory was the perfect way to cap off Black Friday. The next day would bring several fantastic games, and we all got to enjoy them with the satisfaction of knowing Penn State already took care of business.
  30. There will be no trip to Indianapolis nor a playoff berth, but a 10-2 record is nothing to scoff at. We were able to enjoy the sweet taste of victory, typically by a wide margin, on 10 of 12 occassions this fall.
  31. We’re only a couple days away from finding out Penn State’s bowl destination and opponent. One more chance to gather to watch the Nittany Lions before turning the page to 2024.
  32. This season went way too fast, like they always do. There will be plenty of action with conference championships, Army-Navy and dozens of bowl games, but I will miss these jam-packed weekends.
  33. WE ARE...