February 25, 2018

Rutgers on the menu for Penn State homecoming

12 November 2017, 01:07 | Pamela Mathis

Rutgers isn't back — but Chris Ash is leading his team closer

Rutgers isn't back — but Chris Ash is leading his team closer

The Nittany Lions outgained the Scarlet Knights, 549 yards to 87, on a night when they were scoring touchdowns in an almost-empty stadium after breaking open a close game at the half with 16 third-quarter points.

WHO CAME THROUGH: Quarterback Trace McSorley took control of the offense on a four-play scoring drive in the second quarter, making assertive throws to Mike Gesicki and Hamilton, then running for 20 yards. McSorley faces Nebraska next. The Lions held Rutgers without a first down in the third quarter. The star tailback finished with 35 rushing yards on 14 carries.

It wasn't easy at first for McSorley and Penn State. They beat Rutgers (4-6, 3-4) and did so handily, but were sluggish from the get-go in all three phases of the game. Gus Edwards is the leading rusher with 630 yards and six touchdowns while Robert Martin has 358 yards and three scores. It also gave Penn State a 21-6 lead, starting the rout.

It put the Scarlet Knights offense in a tough spot numerous times, and it helped the Nittany Lions convert short fields into points a couple of times. Time after time, Penn State punted from around midfield or in Scarlet Knights territory. They were outgained 304-200 in the game, managing just 79 yards in the second half.

Head coach James Franklin should still be concerned about the lack of a run game.

Saquon Barkley misplayed the opening kickoff and Rutgers recovered the ball after it spun away from Barkley, giving the Scarlet Knights great field position on the Penn State 21-yard line.

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Barkley took a hook and lateral play 14 yards to set up his 1-yard score, leaping over a defender in the process.

Penn State's opponents have become increasingly more challenging, and with chaos in the Big Ten, there are more contenders for the conference title game than originally thought, so teams are playing even harder. Penn State has hit the over in eight of its last nine games in November and in six of its last seven games following a loss.

Veteran walk-on Brandon Smith started in Bowen's spot and made 10 tackles. "We got our momentum back, and we got our groove back". Barkley went over left guard for the TD two plays later. "Having that type of person in the middle in our defense is very helpful".

Location: Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pa.

Penn State's start was less-than-ideal on Saturday - but the resolve and result, as Franklin said, are all that mattered after a pair of disappointing performances.

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