Rapid Reaction: Big 2nd half propels Penn State over Buffalo
Final Score: #15 Penn State 45 Buffalo 13
Brief Recap: A tale of two halves. Yeah, I know that’s an old, overused cliché, but it was certainly true in Happy Valley on Saturday night. Penn State looked nothing like the dominant squad that took the field last weekend against Idaho through 30 minutes, trailing Buffalo 10-7 and failing to get anything moving offensively. It was a different story in the second half. An early pick-six from John Reid and a touchdown pass from Sean Clifford to Pat Freiermuth gave PSU a 21-10 advantage. From that point on, the Lions were clicking on all cylinders on both sides of the ball, cruising to a 32-point win.
Key Moment: Leave it to defensive leader John Reid to make a play when Penn State desperately needed it. Trailing 10-7 early in the 3rd quarter, Buffalo had the football and was hoping to add to its lead with a solid drive to open the second half. But Reid stepped in front of an errant pass from Matt Myers and took it 35 yards to the house for a touchdown. Penn State never looked back from that moment.
Key Stat: Three. That’s how many points Buffalo had out of halftime. Penn State’s defense clamped down in the second half and overpowered the Bulls for the final 30 minutes of the contest.
Key Player: Jahan Dotson made four catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was a 50-plus yard catch. That’s a pretty good night for the wide receiver. Freiermuth gets an honorable mention for a big night, as well.
What it Means: Penn State has always been susceptible to sluggish starts under James Franklin, and that seems to still be the case. And as long as the Nittany Lions continue to dominate in the second half of games, they’ll be OK. But you’d still like to see the team with superior talent flex their muscles maybe a little earlier in the game, rather than waiting until the 3rd and 4th quarters to do so. Maybe that’s being nit-picky, but slow starts are never good when B1G play starts up. Bottom line, Penn State is 2-0 heading into a rivalry game with Pitt, getting both wins in convincing fashion. What else could you ask for after two weeks?