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Penn State cruises through Rutgers for bounce back win

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The Nittany Lions defense stuffed Rutgers to the tune of just 200 yards in the easy 35-6 win over the last-place Scarlet Knights at Beaver Stadium Saturday afternoon.

By Jarrod Prugar

State College, PA — The No. 14 Penn State Nittany Lions silence the Rutgers Scarlet Knights by way of a dominant 35-6 showing at Beaver Stadium Saturday afternoon. 

Here are the game's “Cheers and jeers.”

Cheers:

Penn State defense bounces back

Penn State had been shredded on defense the last two weeks in their losses against both Michigan State and Ohio State. 

While Rutgers does not quite have the offensive firepower of the aforementioned programs, the Nittany Lions could've easily mailed it in this week after those terrible performances, but alas they showed up in big fashion against the Scarlet Knights.

They held Rutgers to a total of 200-yards with 43 coming through the air and 157 coming on the ground. 

The Nittany Lions dominated defensively in the second half holding the Scarlet Knights to nine yards in the third quarter while giving up only 61-yards in the fourth quarter. 

It was the bounce back performance needed by Penn State defensively as they looked to get back in the win column and finish the last three games of the regular season strong.

A win is a win:

It wasn't pretty at times, especially in the first half, but a win is a win no matter who the opponent is. The offense struggled mightily out of the gates, however, thanks to a stout defense, they were able to put up more points than Rutgers did on the scoreboard.

The Penn State offense had a mediocre day statistically against the Scarlet Knights but did just enough to get the job done in the second half even with the slow start to the game.

A stellar performance by the defense was just what the doctor ordered following less than stellar showing the last two weeks. Once the Nittany Lions were able to find a groove offensively and find the end zone with regularity, it was game over for Rutgers.

While the Scarlet Knights are far from the elite in the Big Ten, getting a win on home soil after two potentially demoralizing road losses is just what James Franklin and company needed this weekend.

 

Jeers:

Offensive line woes

Offensive line issues have plagued Penn State for several years now. Some years are better than others, but this year and more specifically over the last three games, the offensive line for the Nittany Lions has been agonizingly difficult to watch.

The best their offensive line looks is usually pre-game when they're blocking against air. Multiple times against Rutgers, players from the second level came unblocked in the area of McSorley and the Penn State backfield.

Whether its ineptness up front or a blocking scheme that is just not working well and being exposed to the extremes, but the Nittany Lions need to make it a point of emphasis during bowl preparations since the woes look like they won't be going any where over the last few weeks of the regular season.

Negative plays

With bad offensive line play comes negative plays and the Nittany Lions have ranked in the top-five in the country in negative plays this year. 

Those negative plays have nearly eliminated Saquon Barkley from Heisman contention as he routinely gets popped behind the line of scrimmage. 
Saturday against Rutgers, it took Barkley until the third quarter to register positive yards in the game. Barkley, being mainly used as a decoy did manage a 10-yard run to get him in to the positive yard territory.

Negative yards have been the kryptonite of the Penn State offense for the entire season. Fixing those woes will most likely have to wait until bowl preparations begin as trying to patch it up before the end of the regulation could make things even worse. 

Slow Starts:

Saturday's game against Rutgers featured what looked to be a less than enthusiastic Penn State squad to begin the game. The Scarlet Knights came ready to play and were boosted by recovering the football on the opening kickoff after it fell between members of the Penn State receiving team.

The Nittany Lions were able to hold Rutgers to a pair of field goals in the first half even with the solid field position. Penn State could muster nothing in the first quarter going scoreless for the first time all season. 

It was the second quarter where the Nittany Lions found some semblance of a getting in a groove as they found the end zone on a 20-yard Trace McSorley run and a McSorley to DaeSean Hamilton 22-yard touchdown completion.

The hangover effect from both the Michigan State and Ohio State games was in full effect at the start, but Penn State managed to trudge through it without it taking too much of a toll on the team. 

How they respond next week against Nebraska will be the next test.

Highlight of the Game

The highlight of the game comes from Trace McSorley, DaeSean Hamilton, and Saquon Barkley.

https://twitter.com/PennStateOnBTN/status/929424414239875073


Trickeration is always fun when it is successful. The Penn State version of the hook and ladder almost resulted in a touchdown, but alas, Barkely did find his way into the end zone a few plays later. 

Up Next

Penn State welcomes Nebraska to Beaver Stadium for the first time since the 2013 season. The Cornhuskers bring a four game win streak to the table dating back to 2003 with their foray into Happy Valley.

Nebraska took on Minnesota Saturday afternoon, a loss for the Cornhuskers.

 

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