On a wet and rainy Saturday afternoon, the Penn State Nittany Lions overcame a sloppy first half to beat the Minnesota Golden Gophers 29-26 in overtime. Here are the game’s “Cheers and jeers.”
Charles in charge— Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley found Irvin Charles for an 80-yard touchdown with just under 10 minutes left in the third quarter to cut the Minnesota lead to three. The reception was not only Charles’ first touchdown as a member of the Nittany Lion, but it was also his first reception.
Defense solid in second half— Penn State gave up 13 points to the Golden Gophers in the first half, only to give up 10 points in the second half. The rush defense of the Nittany Lions is still weak, however, the pass defense managed an interception in the fourth quarter to keep Minnesota off the board. Marcus Allen led the way for Penn State defensively with 21 tackles on the afternoon, more than double the amount of the next closest guy, Cam Brown, who had nine tackles.
Third-quarter McSorley— McSorley’s 80-yard bomb to Charles was the first of two deep completions in a row in the third quarter on consecutive drives (the second being a 36-yard strike to Chris Godwin to set Penn State up for the tying field goal). Mike Gesicki was the recipient of a 46-yard pass from McSorley on the ensuing drive. The deep ball to Gesicki set the stage for a six-yard run by McSorley to put the Nittany Lions up by seven. In the third quarter alone, McSorley finished with 193 total yards.
3rd down and struggling— Penn State entered Saturday’s contest last in the Big Ten and 121st out of 128 teams in the FBS in 3rd down percentage. The Nittany Lions had no problem going backward in that regard today. After not converting on third down in the first half, Penn State managed only three conversions in the second half and finished 3-for-13.
First-half McSorley— McSorley struggled mightily in the first half, constantly overthrowing receivers deep. The sophomore signal-caller completed nine of 19 passes in the first half as the Nittany Lions managed to score only three points. It was the second time in as many weeks McSorley struggled in the first half; his nine completions were enough for 95 yards in the air.
Rush defense still lacking— A major struggle for the Penn State defense has been its inability to stop the run. The Nittany Lions have been gashed by every team they’ve played this season — Minnesota rushed for 228 total yards. With a lack of depth at linebacker, a bad rush defense is to be expected, however, the Nittany Lions need to get better at stopping the run if they want to win in the Big Ten.
Highlight of the Game
— Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) October 1, 2016
The highlight of the game comes from the first touchdown of the day for the Nittany Lions. On the play above, McSorley found Charles for an 80-yard touchdown to start a 17-point third quarter for Penn State.
Maryland comes to Happy Valley next weekend for the second game of a three-game home stand for Penn State. The Terrapins return to Beaver Stadium for the first time since their 20-19 victory in 2014. Since joining the Big Ten prior to the 2014 season, Maryland and Penn State have traded one-point victories on the road.
Image credit: Chris Knight/AP