It looked deceptively simple at the end thanks to a Penn State touchdown with 6 seconds remaining, but the No. 7 Nittany Lions had to earn their way to a 38-15 win over old border rival West Virginia in the season opener.

Penn State took a 14-7 lead into the half before putting the game away in the second half with a superior mix of talent and depth. The Nittany Lions extended their series lead over the Mountaineers to 49-9-2 in the first meeting between the teams since 1992.

Here are 3 things that stood out about Penn State’s win, starting with a splashy starting debut from sophomore quarterback Drew Allar.

OK, I’m all-in on Drew Allar

Surely Allar would have some jitters in his first start under the lights at Beaver Stadium, right?

And maybe he did. But they sure as heck didn’t show up externally.

Perhaps the most striking thing about Allar’s first start wasn’t his arm strength, which has always been obvious. Example: his first touchdown pass.

Impressive as that was, Allar’s poise stood out even more.

There were multiple times when Allar didn’t like what he was seeing from West Virginia’s defense, and it was clear that Penn State’s coaching staff was totally comfortable with Allar altering the call at the line of scrimmage.

For good reason — Allar appeared to have the right audible in his pocket each time. He never tried to take something that wasn’t there, which is not a trait always associated with big-armed quarterbacks. Looking at you, Jay Cutler.

Allar is obviously a playmaker, but it was reasonable to assume it would take him several games to manage the game nearly as well as a 4-year starter like Sean Clifford last year. Not so much. Allar finished the game 21 of 29 for 325 yards with 3 touchdowns and no turnovers.

Assuming he’s only going to improve on that front, Allar may not have a ceiling. It’s more like an open moon roof.

But not Penn State’s kicking game

Impressive as Allar’s first start was, the same couldn’t be said for redshirt freshman Sander Sahaydak. And confidence in the kicking game may matter if the Nittany Lions are going to get over the hump in potentially close games against Michigan or Ohio State.

Sahaydak missed fairly easy field goal attempts of 34 and 38 yards in the first half.

James Franklin was unsettled enough to make the switch to Columbia transfer Alex Felkins, who made a 25-yarder on the first play of the fourth quarter to put Penn State up 24-7.

A championship-caliber pass defense?

Penn State’s defense was much improved under in its first year under Manny Diaz, finishing 9th nationally with 18.2 points allowed per game. But there are still areas where the Nittany Lions could get better in 2023.

Notably, Penn State’s pass defense was 9th in the B1G and 46th nationally with 212 yards allowed per game through the air.

West Virginia’s passing offense appears, charitably speaking, to be pretty limited. But the Mountaineers probably won’t struggle quite as much as they did against the Nittany Lions. Penn State limited West Virginia to 162 passing yards and 6 yards per attempt.

We’ll see if that continues, but it certainly seems pass defense could be a major strength for Penn State.