Rapid reaction: Penn State dominates scrambling Rutgers
Final: Penn State 28, Rutgers 3
Telling stat: Three PSU rushing scores in first half
Penn State destroyed Rutgers at the line of scrimmage in the first two quarters. Credit the much maligned Lions line for getting after it on Saturday night. Akeel Lynch looked like he parted ran ran through the Red Sea on his 75-yard score. This was a beat up Rutgers defensive line, and Penn State did its damage early and often. The Lions were up 311-115 in the yards advantage by the break, and it might not have even been that close.
Key play: Akeel Lynch 75-yard touchdown run
What haven’t the Lions gotten all season? Breathing room. Thanks to Lynch’s monster run up the gut, Penn State finally got that. The Lions’ longest play of the year also gave them their largest lead of the year. It was also a big run personally for Lynch. After Barkley made another highlight reel touchdown, Lynch showed the freshman that he’s not the only one capable of making the home-run play. His starting job might not have been on the line, but that run made sure his carries didn’t take a severe hit.
-Christian Hackenberg looked…meh
For those of you waiting for Hackenberg to look like a top NFL prospect, Saturday night was not for you. He short-armed too many throws, didn’t look comfortable and didn’t get that big-time touchdown pass we’ve all been waiting for. He did connect with DaeSean Hamilton — finally — for a 48-yard pass, but Hackenberg looked more like a game-manager than a game-changer. The real question is, is that the worst thing? As long as he isn’t getting demolished sitting in the pocket — he hasn’t since Temple — and the running game looks like that, Penn State will look more competitive than it did for most of conference play last year.
-Rutgers misses Leonte Carroo
I know. I’m stating the obvious. Still, it needs to be said. The suspended Scarlet Knights receiver was missed badly by Chris Laviano. Carlton Agudosi made some nice plays and Rutgers tried getting Josh Hicks in space, but it was a struggle for Rutgers to string passes together after falling behind big in the second quarter. Janarion Grant’s Week 2 special teams outburst masked the Scarlet Knights offensive issues. Plenty of question marks surround their depleted roster.
What it means: Penn State has life, Rutgers in shambles
Give the Lions credit. They clearly still have issues but are adjusting and finding ways not to stoop to their competition. This defense is going to make things as easy as it can on Hackenberg and Co. It’s troubling that the Lions didn’t allow any sacks for the second straight game and the passing game still didn’t look as fluid as we all believed it could be. The offense might have a budding star in Barkley to keep defenses from loading the box. Rutgers, on the other hand, might be in some serious trouble if it doesn’t get Turay and Hamilton at full strength. In the first game without their suspended coach, Rutgers showed that one thing is clear. This team desperately needs someone to steer the ship.