Rapid Reaction: Penn State continues to dominate second halves in blowout win over Kent State
James Franklin has said before that he believes his team plays better in the second half. It was specifically the case in 2016, when the Nittany Lions gashed teams in the final two quarters on their way to a B1G title and a Rose Bowl appearance.
After watching Penn State dominate the second half of each of the last two weekends, it might be the case again this year.
Penn State’s offense was clicking in the first half, taking a 28-10 lead into the locker room. Trace McSorley’s passing numbers weren’t great, completing less than 50 percent of his passes at the break. But the Nittany Lions had enough big plays to jump out to an 18-point lead.
Then the offense really started to pull away in the third quarter. And the defense was even more dominant.
Penn State outscored Kent State 35-0 in the final two quarters on Saturday, shutting out an opponent for the final 30 minutes two straight weeks. Against Pitt, the Lions won the second half 37-0 on their way to a 51-6 victory over their in-state rival.
It’s been just two games — and not great competition — but could it be a trend that continues to develop?
Penn State was able to wear teams down with its rushing attack in the first half of games in 2016. It wasn’t a surprise to find the Nittany Lions trailing, tied or clinging to a small lead through 30 minutes of action two years ago, even against some of the weaker teams on the schedule. Several of those games turned into blowout victories thanks to an explosive offense and big plays in the second half.
2018 Penn State is starting to look a little more like 2016 Penn State.
Nothing much will be learned next weekend when the Lions travel on the road to play Illinois. That game shouldn’t be a problem for Franklin’s crew. But if there’s another lopsided second half, it might become part of Penn State’s identity.
Considering how well that worked out two years ago, being a second half team might be worth some of the cringe-worthy first half moments Penn State has experienced through three weeks.