Rapid Reaction: Penn State's second half explosion leads to B1G Title
This was one for the ages.
Early, it looked like Wisconsin was going to run away with the B1G Championship and head back to Madison without much of a contest. Corey Clement broke free for a 67-yard run and a botched snap that Trace Mcsorley couldn’t handle led to a defensive touchdown for the Badgers.
Wisconsin was walloping the Nittany Lions in the first half.
But Penn State fought back in the second half. A 70-yard touchdown pass from Mcsorley to Saeed Blacknall got the Lions within a touchdown. Early in the fourth quarter, Mcsorley connected with Saquon Barkley to give PSU its first lead ever in a B1G Championship.
Thanks to that surge, Penn State hung on for its first B1G title in the division era with a 38-31 win.
Several plays in this could fill this role. Certainly McSorley’s pass to Blacknall on Penn State’s first play in the third quarter is a strong candidate. The crowd erupted when Barkley caught the go-ahead touchdown pass early in the fourth. But the key play in this game? That came before halftime.
Trailing 28-7 with 2:18 left in the second quarter, Penn State needed some sort of moment before the half to build its confidence. The Nittany Lions got it in the way of a 40-yard touchdown pass from McSorley to Blacknall to cut the Wisconsin lead to 14.
It proved to be the momentum boost Penn State needed and spark an offensive explosion in the second half. They
Stat of the game
Trace McSorley eviscerated Wisconsin’s secondary, particularly in the second half. Penn State concluded the game with 453 total yards, 384 of those coming through the air. McSorley completed 22-of-31 attempts and had four TD passes with no intercepts.
Wisconsin’s worst performance against the pass prior to Saturday came against Georgia State, when it gave up 269 yards.
211 of Penn State’s passing yards came in the second half.
What it means
Penn State deserves serious consideration for the College Football Playoff bid over Ohio State.
The Nittany Lions took down the Buckeyes in October, have won nine-straight games and now have a B1G title they’ll take back to State College. Will it happen? That’s a question we won’t know until Sunday.
Do they deserve consideration?
What a turnaround for James Franklin and Penn State.