No. 11 Penn State Football started slowly, but ignited by a Nick Singleton 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and Manny Diaz’s stingy defense, the Nittany Lions pulled away from Rutgers in blowout fashion, 55-10.
James Franklin‘s program now has a fourth New Year’s Six Bowl within reach, entering the regular season finale against Michigan State at 9-2.
Here’s a look at key takeaways from Saturday’s Penn State Football blowout win over Rutgers:
Penn State Football seemed to be sleepwalking offensively through most of the first half.
The Nittany Lions were forced to punt 5 of their first 6 possessions with that also included a fumble. The offense couldn’t seem to get any sort of rhythm until the end of the first half where the Nittany Lions tacked on two touchdown drives toward the end of the 2nd quarter and went into the locker room with a 28-10 lead.
What helped keep the pressure off of the struggling offense was the benefit of a 100-yard kickoff return by Singleton, and a scoop and score by Kobe King to give Penn State a 14-10 lead before their offense ever reached the end zone.
While the Nittany Lions struggled offensively in the 1st half, the Scarlet Knights struggled even more and had multiple turnovers that led directly to Penn State points. While Penn State didn’t play well their talent ultimately overwhelmed Rutgers.
Running back duo shines
After a slow start, the freshmen duo broke through in the 2nd half to add to their already successful seasons.
Nick Singleton had the 100-yard kickoff return to get Penn State on the board in the 1st half.
Kaytron Allen had a powerful touchdown run in the 3rd quarter where he carried defenders into the endzone. Allen finished with 11 carries for 117 yards (10.6 ypc) and a touchdown, while Singleton tallied 9 carries for 62 yards (6.9 ypc). Singleton and Allen became the only freshmen duo in Big 10 history to each have 700 rushing yards in the same season.
They also are the top two freshman scorers in Penn State history with Singleton (10) and Allen (9) touchdowns each. The future is bright in the Penn State backfield and don’t be surprised if more records are broken in the upcoming seasons by these two playmakers.
Defense is once again Elite
The Penn State defense was swarming despite missing star player Joey Porter jr. who was out this week.
Penn State Football finished with 4 sacks and 15 tackles for loss and after giving up a 10-7 lead never let the Scarlet Knights even sniff scoring again. The defense also forced an interception and two fumbles that both led directly to touchdowns.
Rutgers finished with 167 total yards and was only able to get 32 rushing yards in the afternoon. What was most impressive with this defensive performance is the production that Penn State got from its underclassmen.
Abdul Carter once again was a disruptive force in the Rutgers backfield garnering a sack and 4 tackles. I expect the talented freshmen and sophomores to continue producing as the 2022 season winds down.
Drew Allar looks solid
Drew Allar got more meaningful snaps this week entering the game halfway through the 3rd quarter with the game in hand.
The true freshman finished 5/10 for 42 yards and had a few nice throws throughout the 2nd half. The real surprising feature of Allar’s performance was his running ability that saw him scamper for a 19-yard gain as well as a touchdown late in the game.
Allar finished with 6 carries for 27 yards on the day. While it is hard to really take much from a game that was in hand when he entered the game, getting the reps that he will be able to take and learn from for next season.
While many Penn State fans want to see him look flawless in these mop up opportunities, having mistakes on film will help him learn and get better.
Special Teams Rollercoaster
The third phase of the game was an adventure for Penn State in the 1st half.
The normally solid Punter in Barney Amor had two punts that went less than 30 yards and saw him get benched.
Backup freshman punter Alex Bacchietta was put into the game, and he proceeded to fumble a snap that was luckily negated by an offsides penalty on Rutgers. Amor would end up redeeming himself by putting 2 balls inside the 20 and one that was downed at the 3-yard line. That punt inside the 5 led to an interception the very next play and ultimately a touchdown for the Nittany Lions.
Singleton was a bright spot in the kick return game and was just the 2nd Nittany Lion in the last 5 seasons to get a kick return touchdown.
On the other end, Pinegar kicked a short ball that led to a 60+ yard return on one kickoff and hit the pylon for a touchback on another. While most of these didn’t end up making much of a difference in a 55-10 blowout it was a very strange special teams performance for the 1st half at least and part of the reason why Rutgers was in the game early.
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