Pittsburgh Panthers in Happy Valley: Penn State vs. Pitt

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STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 09: Penn State and Pitt (wearing throwback uniforms and helmets) fire off the ball at each other on the line of scrimmage. Penn State DE Torrence Brown (19) and Pitt TE Chris Clark (87). The Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the Pittsburgh Panthers 33-14 in the Keystone Classic September 9, 2017 at Beaver Stadium in State College, PA. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Record Crowd in Happy Valley: Penn State vs. Pitt

There was a record crowd with the Pittsburgh Panthers in Happy Valley this weekend. Beaver Stadium saw its seventh highest crowd with 109,898 fans on Saturday. I was one of those 109,898 people on hand to watch No. 4 Penn State beat the Panthers 33-14.

James Franklin said it best in his postgame interview,

“I know last year for their win [against us], it was like the Super Bowl,” Franklin said. “But for us, this was just like beating Akron.”

Do not look for the Nittany Lions to hold onto this win for the next year.

Pittsburgh Panthers in Happy Valley

Offense Takeaways

Saquon Barkley stated in his postgame interview that he felt disrespected by Pitt last year after the loss at Heinz field. He stated that Pitt fans “acted like they won the national championship” for the entire year.

Barkley only had 88 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown, but this is his ninth-consecutive game with a rushing touchdown. This is the longest current streak in the FBS. He also had one receiving touchdown that came off of a career long 46-yard reception.

Trace McSorley passed the ball around again. He used seven receivers and threw three touchdowns. Tight end Mike Gesicki had his second-straight game with two touchdowns, coming off of four receptions. The offense looked flat throughout the first half. They relied heavily on the defense and special teams to gain good field position.

Defense Takeaways

The Penn State defense gave up 342 yards to the Pittsburgh Panthers in Happy Valley on Saturday. The defense did not hold the Panthers to many three-and-outs, but stood strong when it needed to. Their production in the red zone held the Panthers scoreless in the first quarter and to just two field goals and one touchdown. Safety Troy Apke and cornerback Grant Haley both had interceptions, Haley’s being on the first drive of the game. Linebacker Jason Cabinda had eight tackles, and his name was prominent in the stadium again. The real highlight of the defense on Saturday had to be senior safety Marcus Allen. Allen had 12 tackles, one for loss and caused a safety in the fourth quarter.

Special Teams

DeAndre Thompkins averaged 10.1 yards on punt returns against the Panthers on Saturday. Thompkins was coming off of a 61-yard touchdown return against Akron and definitely showed that it could happen again this season. Punter Blake Gillikin continued his dominance yesterday, with a long of 49 yards. The bright spot for special teams was holding Pittsburgh All-American punt and kick returner, Quadree Henderson, to 33 yards on five attempts. The special teams definitely receives a collective MVP against the Pittsburgh Panthers in Happy Valley this weekend.

Looking Ahead

The next game for the Nittany Lions is at home on Saturday, September 16th against Georgia State. It is a 7:30 pm ET kick-off. The Nittany Lions will look to start the season off 3-0 against a Georgia State team that has only played one game this season. Georgia State lost their season opener to Tennessee State, 17-10. The Penn State offense will have to fix some things in practice this week, as they cannot rely on the defense and special teams if they want to stay in College Football Playoff contention.

Main Photo

STATE COLLEGE, PA – SEPTEMBER 09: Penn State and Pitt (wearing throwback uniforms and helmets) fire off the ball at each other on the line of scrimmage. Penn State DE Torrence Brown (19) and Pitt TE Chris Clark (87). The Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the Pittsburgh Panthers 33-14 in the Keystone Classic September 9, 2017 at Beaver Stadium in State College, PA. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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