The No. 8 Penn State Nittany Lions (9-2, 7-1 Big Ten) dominated from the outset in a 39-0 victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday night at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, N.J. Here are the game’s “Cheers and jeers.”
Smothering Defense— Penn State’s defense kept Rutgers off the scoreboard following a fumble on the opening kickoff, and the Nittany Lions never looked back in the defense’s most dominant performance this season. Penn State held the Scarlet Knights to 87 total yards which, to put in perspective, is less than the 92 yards Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley had on the ground. Penn State had 11 tackles-for-loss and two sacks against a struggling Rutgers team.
Special teams paves the way— In the first half, kicker Tyler Davis was the lone source of scoring for the Nittany Lions. The junior kicker continued his strong season, putting field goals from 32, 34 and 41 yards through the uprights to give Penn State a 9-0 lead going into half.
And Juwan Johnson blocked a Rutgers punt in the third quarter to set the Nittany Lions up for their first touchdown of the game.
Davis added another 32-yarder in the third quarter to put Penn State up by 19.
Second half successes continue— Throughout the season, the Nittany Lions have been a second-half team, and, against the Scarlet Knights, the game was no different. Penn State put two touchdowns on the board in the third quarter and added a 32-yard field goal from Davis to put the game away before the fourth quarter started. The Nittany Lions exploded for 333 total yards and 30 points in the second half, with scores coming from four different players.
Starting Slow— While Davis was spectacular in the first half, Penn State’s offense couldn’t get into a rhythm and had to settle for three field goals. The Nittany Lions fumbled the opening kick off (but they kept the Scarlet Knights off the scoreboard). To start, Penn State mustered up only 216 total yards with 128 of those yards coming through the air.
Offense out of sync— Penn State’s offense struggled to get in sync for the better part of the night, with its best play coming in the fourth quarter when it went 95 yards in 12 plays culminating with a 27-yard touchdown reception by Mark Allen. The Nittany Lions settled for four field goals inside the red zone and only managed two touchdowns in eight total trips. It was the second game in a row where the offense failed to be consistent moving the ball and scoring touchdowns.
Highlight of the Game
The highlight of the game comes from running back Mark Allen.
It's pouring in Piscataway, and Penn State is pouring it on. ☔️
— Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) November 20, 2016
With Saquon Barkley leaving the game late in the third quarter when the game got out of hand, the Nittany Lions deployed a barrage of running backs who impressed in the fourth quarter. On play No. 12 of a drive that started at the five yard line, Mark Allen caught a swing pass in the back field and took it 27 yards to the house to put Penn State up 32-0 late in the fourth quarter.
Penn State welcomes Michigan State to Beaver Stadium for Senior Day next Saturday. The Spartans come into the game coming off a tight 17-16 loss to Ohio State. Michigan State has struggled so far this season but always seems to play well against ranked teams.
The Nittany Lions haven’t beaten the Spartans since 2009, when Penn State won 42-14 in East Lansing.
Image credit: Gene J. Puskar/AP