2016-10-24T10:00:06-04:00Penn State picked up its biggest win in a decade, and the ‘crootin trail is going to get hot because of it. Welcome back to Committany Nation! As always, if you have any recruiting questions or (mean) comments, feel free to tweet me at @PatKoerbler. Recruiting Impact Of Penn State’s Victory Anyone who’s been following recruiting this year knows that while Penn State has put together a pretty solid class, there were questions from recruits about where this program was headed under James Franklin. Despite the roster limitations that Franklin has faced during his tenure in Happy Valley, back-to-back seven win seasons didn’t inspire a ton of confidence. It was becoming apparent that Franklin needed a strong 2016 season, and a “signature” win of sorts to get back that mojo that he brought to Penn State in January 2014. It’s safe to say that the Nittany Lions knocking off No. 2 Ohio State counts as Franklin’s signature victory, and that said mojo is back. To put it simply, this was the most important win since at least Ohio State 2005 — and really, this could prove more impactful than even that game. Just three weeks ago, Penn State was trailing Minnesota 13-3 at halftime, and fans and media alike were calling for Franklin’s job. Fast forward to today with the 24th ranked Nittany Lions now staring at a potential 10-2 record at season’s end, and it’s hard to believe this is even the same program. Franklin will no longer have to answer to his job security. He’ll no longer have to answer to questions about getting a signature win. He’ll no longer have to sell what his vision for this program is — instead, he’ll point to Marcus Allen and Grant Haley’s block-6. Now, this doesn’t mean that Penn State will begin to recruit at an Alabama or Ohio State level. And I’m not even sure how significant of an impact this win and this season will have on 2017, just because so many of those recruits are already committed to other programs and the Nittany Lions really don’t have a ton of room left in the class. But make no mistake about it, Saturday’s victory will prove to be a major stepping stone to top 10 level classes going forward. Twitter Reactions Not surprisingly, recruits were active on twitter following Penn State’s victory. 2017 OG Mike Miranda (Commit) I love this place— Mike Miranda (@bigmike2178) October 23, 2016 For the first time since the close of the 2011 season, the Penn State Nittany Lions are a ranked football team. After taking down #2 Ohio State 24-21, the previously unranked Lions leaped into the rankings, clocking in at #24 in the Associated Press poll. Penn State also jumped in votes received in the Coaches poll (80 votes) without making it into the rankings. Penn State joins #2 Michigan, #7 Nebraska, #6 Ohio State, and #11 Wisconsin as the Big Ten’s representatives in the top 25. The rest of this season’s schedule sets up nicely for Penn State, who should be favored in their remaining games. Given that this was supposed to be another rebuilding year as the team climbs out of the sanctions, a statement victory over perennial powerhouse Ohio State helps to paint a rosy picture for the rest of this season, as well as seasons to come. We Are! [...]
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See what the Twitterverse is saying about Penn State’s thrilling victory.
Penn State may have sunk Ohio State’s battleship....or rather, their national title dreams.
More than a signature win, Penn State’s defeat of Ohio State capped off an emotional week for head coach James Franklin.
Some interesting game notes that tell the story of Penn State’s big win, along with the stats that don’t tell the full story of what made the difference in the end- the massive amount of heart displayed by the Nittany Lions.
Let’s talk about how each unit did in their biggest game of the season.
It wasn’t always pretty, and the stat sheet won’t show it, but Trace McSorley did what he needed to do down the stretch to put Penn State in position to win. Down 21-7 in the fourth quarter, McSorley engineered a five-play, 90-yard touchdown drive capped by his bomb to Saeed Blacknall, and his quick feet for the score.
No, Saquon Barkley didn’t run all over Ohio State the way he did last season at the ‘Shoe. What he did, however, is get continuous positive yardage while breaking free for a few 20+ runs when his team needed him most. He made no mistakes in this game and simply kept the Lions within striking distance the entire way. His lack of scoring keeps his grade from being higher.
This is another instance of “weren’t all that great for most of the game, but did just enough to keep us in it.” In fairness to the unit, Mike Gesicki was doing pretty well until he went out with an injury, and was still able to do just enough when he came back in. Chris Godwin, Saeed Blacknall, and DaeSean Hamilton had three huge catches at different points in the game as well.
Penn State’s offensive line allowed one sack against the number two team in the nation. Who would have thought that this line would come this far after just one offseason? Better yet, who would have thought this line would perform this well after one of their most experienced linemen went down with injury two weeks ago? If it weren’t for a few tackles for loss this grade would have been a straight up A.
Welcome back, Jason Cabinda and Brandon Bell. The weakest unit on the entire team a month ago has returned to form, and in what way. Bell, Cabinda, and Manny Bowen combined for 42 of the team’s 102 tackles Saturday (yes, Penn State had ONE HUNDRED TWO tackles in this game). Ohio State’s running game had very little room to operate, and that was mainly due to a relentless game from the linebackers.
This was a solid effort by the secondary. I’m grading them on a negative curve here, because they were kind of expected to have this type of game against an Ohio State passing attack that hasn’t been all that potent as of late. The team that scored 77 on Bowling Green, mostly through the air, seems to be long gone for the Buckeyes.
Brent Pry wasn’t shy about dialing up blitzes to keep the pressure on J.T. Barrett late in the game, but even when he didn’t, this unit made the Ohio State quarterback uncomfortable by winning one-on-one battles up front. Garrett Sickels, Evan Schwan, and Kevin Givens combined for four of Penn State’s six sacks on the night. In run defense, the line wasn’t moved as easily as it was against Michigan and Pittsburgh, and that played a big part in Penn State staying in this game before the furious fourth-quarter comeback.
Special teams had two F-worthy mistakes in the first three quarters, but they counterbalanced those with two A+ worthy plays in the fourth. Special teams are the reason Penn State won this game, but they could have easily been the reason the Nittany Lions would have lost it too. The grade reflects that.
2016-10-23T09:23:47-04:00This win changes the trajectory of the program for the remainder of the season as well as the near future. It is impossible to overstate the importance of this victory. The win puts the Lions at 5-2 with only winnable games remaining on the schedule. Just one loss on the final drive on the road in Pittsburgh and one on the road in Michigan blemish the record of the team. The win keeps Penn State’s hope for a Big Ten and National Championship, however thin, alive. Decades from now those who witnessed the win will recall the moment as though it happened earlier in the day. This was not a signature win for coach James Franklin and his team, this was the biggest win since Joe Paterno walked the sidelines with his pants rolled up over his black shoes. Heading into the evening the experts predicted that the Buckeyes would win the game by nearly three touchdowns. The experts were wrong. With just a little more than one minute remaining in the first half Ohio State kicked a field goal to extend the lead to 12-0. The weather conditions were cold, wet, with swirling winds that slowed down each team. It looked as though Urban Meyer’s team was beginning to take control of the game. That was when Trace ‘Last Minute’ McSorley began to make plays. On a bleak third and eight with just 37 seconds left in the half and the ball spotted on the Penn State 28 yard line, the sophomore quarterback found Chris Godwin for a 19 yard gain near midfield. It was a gutsy throw and also a brazen play call by the offense, to continue to attack the Ohio State defense with so little time remaining in the half, down two scores. On the next play the drive appeared to stall when Nick Bosa sacked McSorley and the Lions were forced to use its final timeout of the half with just twenty-nine ticks left on the clock. The winds were howling, the ball was wet, and to this point Penn State had kept up a good enough fight to play close with the second-best team in the nation. But that was not enough for coach James Franklin. On the next play McSorley threw the ball deep again, this time to DaeSean Hamilton, who was tackled at the Ohio State 20 yard line. After an incomplete pass directed toward Saquon Barkley in the end zone, it appeared that the drive was set to reap just a field goal attempt, which would have been well enough for an unranked team, trailing by 12 to a supposed superior opponent. But that was not the way that Franklin and his new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead were thinking. They weren’t thinking about keeping the game close, they were looking to win. With just 15 seconds left in the half, McSorley found Chris Godwin in the end zone and the Lions went to half-time trailing by just five points, 12-7. The soggy stage was set for what will be remembered as one of the great Penn State comeback victories of this century. Following a couple of punts to start the second half, Ohio State once again appeared to take control of the game. On third and 2 the Lions were hoping to stop OSU and get the ball back, instead Curtis Samuel broke the hearts of the Nittany Lion faithful momentarily when he scampered 74 yards to stretch the lead to 19-7. The next drive reaped -1 yard for the Penn State offense and punter Blake Gillikin stood in formation ready to kick the ball away to the Buckeyes. An uncharacteristic bad snap from Tyler Yazujian sailed over the freshman punter’s hands and came to rest in the end zone. Showing the athleticism of a position player, Gillikin ran back to the ball and covered it for a safety, keeping Ohio State away from what may have been a game-sealing touchdown. It was a subtle difference at the time but the score would prove to be Ohio State’s final tally of the contest. After the teams traded punts the Lions took possession of the ball, down 21-7, to begin the fourth quarter. Once again faced with a hefty mountain to climb, Trace McSorley answered the call. He found Mike Gesicki for a 16 yard gain to begin the drive. Saquon Bar[...]