Rapid Reaction: One week makes a huge difference as Penn State pummels Pitt
The old coaching cliché is that the biggest difference seen from a team is from Week 1 to Week 2. That might actually be the case for Penn State.
A Saturday removed from a nerve-wracking 45-38 overtime win over Appalachian State in the season opener, the Nittany Lions went on the road and throttled in-state rival Pitt 51-6.
There were no questions about a struggling defense and there was no concern about closing out a win. Penn State slammed the pedal to the floor and didn’t let up until the scoreboard hit zeros.
Penn State’s numbers weren’t overly impressive. Trace McSorley completed just 14-of-30 passes and the Lions totaled less than 400 yards of total offense. But great field position, excellent play on special teams and an incredible defensive effort helped Penn State cruise to the win.
Miles Sanders rushed for 118 yards on 16 carries and three ball-carriers — McSorley, KJ Hamler and Mark Allen — all accounted for a touchdown.
This looked like the Penn State of old, the one that had competed for a B1G title each of the last two seasons. This looked like a Top 25 team and one capable of giving Ohio State a run for its money in the East.
That wasn’t the case a week ago. But what a difference seven days can make.
And how about the defense? The one that surrendered 38 points to Appalachian State? Yeah, that was a lot better too.
Penn State held Pitt to just 55 passing yards and forced three turnovers. The Panthers’ offense was held under 300 yards. It was an all-around thumping, courtesy of James Franklin and his crew.
The Nittany Lions have one final non-conference game, next Saturday against Kent State, before starting conference play. That game will serve as a tune-up game before PSU begins its quest for a conference title.
Penn State looked in-tune on Saturday night. It’s just a matter of sustaining that effort.