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A Whiteout With A Stripe

Penn State gets its first win of the season against West Virginia

Zakee Wheatley #6 of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates after the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Beaver Stadium Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

110,747. That’s how many people showed up to see the 2023 version of the Penn State Nittany Lions. Whether it was the intrigue of seeing Wunderkind* Drew Allar for the first time, seeing how much better this defense would turn out to be, or just simply coming back to ol’ State College, the fourth largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history showed up to see the renewal of a rivalry that hadn’t been played since 1992.

West Virginia had a game plan in mind coming into the night, and they nearly executed it into perfection. The Mountaineers were going to run the ball behind their experienced offensive line, use Garett Greene’s legs to keep the defense off balance, and shorten the game as much as they possibly could so they could stay within striking distance. For the first half, that basically worked.

While the Nittany Lions opened up the scoring with a four-play, 91-yard drive capped by a 72-yard touchdown pass to KeAndre Lambert-Smith. The Mountaineers would respond soon there after, with their own touchdown drive which bled into the second quarter, led by a 37-yard pass from Greene to Devin Carter, setting up the ensuing touchdown a few plays after. That pass would turn out to be the longest of the game for West Virginia. The Lions would respond with another touchdown of their own, taking a 7-point lead into the half after missing two field goals along the way.

West Virginia’s strategy did not bear as much fruit in the second half, as they were unable to get anything in the passing game, and having to put drives together on the ground ultimately led to stalled possessions, a number of which ended in turnover-on-downs. Penn State seized on the opportunity, scoring on its second possession of the quarter to make it 21-7, a score that would hold for the quarter.

After a change in kicker, the Lions tacked on a field goal to go into the fourth quarter up 24-7. Another turnover-on-downs for the Mountaineers led to another Penn State touchdown, and, down 31-7, West Virginia was in desperation mode. The Mountaineers finally put a drive together as the game came to a close, made the 2-point conversion attempt, went for the onside kick, which went out of bounds (and thus Penn State kept the ball), and Beau Pribula capped off the Penn State scoring (to the delight of many degenerates out there), to end the game at 38-15.

All in all, you couldn’t have asked more for an opening game. An opponent in West Virginia that, while overmatched, wasn’t a pushover. An electric atmosphere that was effectively a whiteout. Clear issues on defense and special teams that the team can address in the next couple of weeks. And, of course, the kind of performance by Allar that made sitting him for a season worth it.

Stats and Storylines

The kids are alright - KeAndre Lambert-Smith had 4 catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Harrison Wallace III hauled in another 7 catches for 72 yards. Dante Cephas, Malik McClain, and Liam Clifford all contributed as well, part of that group of guys looking to become the permanent starter at that third receiver position. In fact, the receivers left little to ponder about in this game, and if their performance, barring a few drops here and there, continues in this trajectory, the receivers should be the least of our worries.

9 - Speaking of receivers, Allar spread the ball to nine different targets in this game, making it look effortless along the way. Mike Yurcich must be on cloud nine right about now.

72.4 - And speaking of Allar, his 21-of-29 performance was good for 72.4 percent on the night. That kind of efficiency will be tremendously helpful as the season unfolds.


*He redeemed himself at the end.