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Penn State Football: Handing Out The Grades Following Nittany Lions' 13-10 Victory Over Rutgers

by on September 14, 2014 8:00 AM

It wasn't pretty, but Penn State managed to do it again, coming away with a 13-10 last minute victory over Rutgers, moving to 3-0 on the year and 1-0 in conference play.

The Nittany Lions made plays when they had to, but there was a lot of ugly to be found on the offensive side of the ball almost the entire game. 

Not all games are going to be beautiful displays of skill and talent and Saturday night's contest was certainly proof of that. Even so, all that matters at the end of the day is what the box score says, not how it came to be.

Offense: C-

Penn State's offense was an interesting sight on Saturday with the running game averaging 1.9 yards a carry to the tune of 64 yards over 33 carries that included 12 runs by Christian Hackenberg. With the run game out of the question it opened Penn State up to blitz after blitz by Rutgers and a 9-of-20 third down conversion rate. Penn State made big plays to end the game and Hackenberg's 309 yards passing and one interception were solid enough to win, but the Nittany Lions were fortunate to be in a situation where such a poor showing could still result in a victory. 

Standout Player: Geno Lewis', 6 catches for 109 yards with a 53 yard catch and run on Penn State's game winning drive made him the right man in the right place for the Nittany Lions. DaeSean Hamilton had 8 catches for 103 yards which somewhat qualifies him to receive co-standout honors. The timing of Lewis' catches give him the edge though.

Defense: A+

Simply put Penn State does not win on Saturday if not for the defense. Rutgers' three first downs and less than 100 yards of offense in the second half are nearly as impressive as Rutgers' quarterback Gary Nova's ability to throw five interceptions. Three sacks and seven tackles for a loss came at timely moments in the game that kept a sputtering Penn State offense within reach. The defense wasn't without a few plays of the 15+ yard variety but it's nearly impossible to prevent those for an entire game. Overall Penn State's defense won the Nittany Lions the game as much as Hackenberg's final drive heroics.

Standout Player: This is a difficult one to pick, but in the vein of "picks" Trevor Williams gets the nod this week with two interceptions and five tackles. Anthony Zettel had four tackles, three for a loss and a sack and Mike Hull led the team with 9 stops to give both of them a strong case for the honors as well. Adrian Amos and Deion Barnes also get honorable mentions.

Special Teams: B-

Sam Ficken made two key field goals and Chris Gulla continues to be a solid asset at punter. A blocked punt and a blocked field goal hurt the grade but the blocked field goal was more an insane vertical leap by the defender rather than a poor kick. Penn State neutralized a solid Rutgers' return unit and made enough good plays to outweigh the bad ones.

Standout Players: Sam Ficken added a quiet but crucial six points to the board from 34 and 25 yards out. Gulla was strong overall, sticking three punts inside the 20. But two poor punts bump him to below Ficken.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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