Rapid Reaction: No Clifford, no problem for Penn State, as Nittany Lions flex muscles against Rutgers
Final Score: #10 Penn State 27 Rutgers 6
Brief Recap: The final score may show a 21-point differential, and realistically, the outcome was never in doubt, but Rutgers held strong with Penn State throughout the first half. Going into halftime, the Nittany Lions only led 7-3. Going into the fourth quarter, they led 13-3. That being said, Penn State was without its starting QB in Sean Clifford. There were actually a number of Nittany Lions that didn’t play in their regular season finale, but, the Scarlet Knights kept it respectable for three quarters.
Key Moment: Toward the end of the first quarter, Penn State capped off a nine-play, 76-yard drive with a two-yard TD run by running back Journey Brown. That was the only TD the Nittany Lions needed in the game, but it proved after a Rutgers field goal that no shocking upset was going to take place in Happy Valley Saturday afternoon. Penn State knew it was the better team, and when it had to respond in this game, it did.
Key Stat: Penn State had 252 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The Nittany Lions didn’t get much from backup QB Will Levis through the air in this one. He only passed for 81 yards. But on the ground, Levis ran for 108 yards and Brown totaled 103. Brown also scored three times.
Key Player: Brown. What did Penn State need to do in this game? Establish its running game and the rest would take care of itself. The Nittany Lions did that with both Brown and Levis, but again, Levis wasn’t effective through the air. Brown did his thing and kept Rutgers’ upset hopes away with his three TDs.
What it means for Penn State: The Nittany Lions are now 10-2 overall. This game, from a Big Ten perspective, didn’t mean much thanks to Penn State losing to Ohio State a week ago. The Nittany Lions will go to a nice bowl game after winning 10 games during the regular season. All is well there. But, is it enough? When will James Franklin and the Nittany Lions push through, beat Ohio State and win the Big Ten? They last won the conference in 2016, but these last three years going the Buckeyes’ way makes it obvious who the best team in the conference has been.
What it means for Rutgers: The 2019 season is over. The Scarlet Knights went win-less in Big Ten play once again. They finish with a 2-10 overall record and a 0-9 record in the B1G. Bottom line, Rutgers needs a new head coach. Greg Schiano? Jeff Hafley? Lance Leipold? Whoever it ends up being has a lot of work to do.