Five Things We Learned: Rutgers
Trace McSorley won his 30th game as Penn State’s starting quarterback, which set a school record as No. 14 Penn State (8-3, 5-3) topped Rutgers (1-10, 0-8) 20-7 at HighPoint.com Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey on Saturday.
Penn State will conclude the regular season next Saturday when it hosts the Maryland Terrapins on Senior Day. Kickoff time is 3:30 p.m. Here are five things we learned from the Nittany Lions matchup with Rutgers.
1. Penn State was asleep
A noon kickoff on the road against one of the bottom teams in the Big Ten after a big home win is the perfect time for a letdown. Penn State fell into that trap, and then some on Saturday.
The whole game it seemed like the Nittany Lions were sleepwalking. It’s hard to think of a reason why, considering everything that’s happened this season, it still has a small shot at a New Year’s Six bowl game.
It really makes Penn State fans wonder how much the Nittany Lions really invested into this game today.
2. Trace McSorley’s most reliable target might be Pat Freiermuth
Nobody thought going into this season that one of McSorley’s most reliable receiving targets would be a true freshman tight end. Freiermuth had three receptions for 47 yards and two touchdowns.
He now has five touchdowns on the season and has made tons of big catches in big games. In a season where the Penn State receiving corps has been plagued by drops and inconsistency, Friermuth has turned into a reliable weapon.
3. The turnover battle was huge
One of the things that Penn State did do well today was force turnovers. Even though Rutgers was running the ball pretty well, the Nittany Lions defense forced three turnovers.
John Reid and Garrett Taylor had interceptions, and Robert Windsor forced a fumble. Penn State scored 14 points off those turnovers and won the game by 13 points. The turnover battle was huge for Penn State on Saturday.
4. Micah Parsons is here to stay
Coming into this game, the Penn State leader in tackles was true freshman linebacker Micah Parsons, and he hadn’t even started a game this season. He got his first start in place of Cam Brown who suspended for the first half for a violation of team rules.
All he did in his first collegiate start was record seven tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and fly all over the field. No. 11 is a historic number for “Linebacker U” and it has been assigned to the right player in Parsons.
5. Even though Penn State won, this was an ugly, unimpressive performance.
There weren’t many positives to take away from Saturday’s game. Beating a 1-9 team by only 13 points does not look good for the resume. Averaging only 3.6 yards per rush against the 120th-ranked run defense in the nation is something to forget about.
Three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that kept Rutgers possessions alive just show a lack of awareness and questionable offensive play calling made an appearance like it does every week. A win is a win though, which is what matters most to the coaches, players and fans.
Kevin McConlogue is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in political science. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.