By Thomas Frank Carr
If two Big 10 teams play a football game but no one watches it, did it even happen?
Yes it did, and it was hard to watch.
Penn State blew out Rutgers 39-0 in the most uneventful way possible this Saturday in front of an alleged 51 thousand fans.
There was rain, hail and wind Saturday night that drove the fans out of the stands. By the 3rd quarter you could count the number of people in the seats at High Point Solution Stadium. There was even a brief moment that Penn State fans took over the Rutgers student section at the end of the 3rd quarter (the students had left by then).
That’s right, there was a White Out to start the 4th quarter before event staff kicked the jubilant fans out.
As far as action goes, that was one of the more eventful moments Saturday evening.
Sure there was a muffed kickoff to start the game to add a splash of intrigue. But Rutgers lost three yards on the drive and then missed a chip shot field goal from the 27 yard line.
The Penn State defense was the real story of the game. There’s the age-old adage of ‘playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage’ then there’s what happened Saturday. The Nittany Lions only had 2 sacks but 11 tackles for loss for a whopping -45 yards. They were on fire Saturday night, only allowing Rutgers 87 yards of offense in the entire game. Head Coach James Franklin says that the game was won from the neck up,
The game really turned on the first Rutgers drive of the third quarter when Juwan Johnson came essentially unblocked through and blocked a Rutgers punt. Two play later it was Saquon Barkley from the 2 yard line that punched in Penn State’s first touchdown of the game with 12:33 left in the third quarter. That’s when the flood gates opened (in the sky as well) The Nittany Lions finished with 339 yards on the ground and 549 yards of offense on the day.
Barkley’s day was done with three minutes left in the third quarter when he was tackled awkwardly at the two yard line. He was able to walk off under his own power but the game was clearly out of hand and Mark Allen punched the 2nd TD of the game the next play. On the point after Billy Fessler mishandled a wet ball on the point after to make the game 26-0. Barkley finished the game with 16 carries, 92 yards and a touchdown. He also had two catches for 25 yards.
Trace McSorley didn’t have the best day through the air in the wind and the rain, going 17-33 for 210 yards and a touchdown. He did enough though, because he didn’t have to do too much. Through the entire 2nd quarter, Rutgers did not throw a pass. Like their fans, Rutgers didn’t show up tonight.
On to Michigan State.