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Penn State Football: Handing Out The Grades Following Penn State's 39-0 Win Over Rutgers

by on November 20, 2016 10:16 AM

Rutgers never really had a shot, but that doesn't mean Penn State played a perfect game on Saturday night. All things considered the Nittany Lions took care of business, but a few miscues dragged some of the grades down this week. Check out how Penn State did in our books following a 39-0 win over Rutgers.

Offense: B+

It's hard to picture a situation where scoring 39 points isn't an A, but compared to where Penn State has played at times, especially against lesser teams it's hard to say this was the best potential output. Trace McSorley wasn't quite on target early on, Miles Sanders dropped a wide open touchdown pass and the offense settled for three field goals deep in Rutgers' end of the field.

By the end of the game none of these things mattered, but coming up just a bit short in the red zone and miscues on potential scoring plays will be a key thing to avoid against Michigan State and beyond. Penn State went 10-of-19 on third down while McSorley finished 17-of-33 for 210 yards and a score. With fairly limited touches Saquon Barkley managed 92 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries but didn't play most of the second half.

Mike Gesicki set Penn State's single season record for receptions by a tight end last night and was his reliable self with five catches for 47-yards. 

Penn State in total racked up 549 yards of offense and once again showcased a stable of running backs behind Barkley. This grade probably should be higher given the outcome, but a sloppy first half brings it down.

Defense: A

Penn State gave up 87 yards of offense, had 11 tackles for a loss and allowed Rutgers to convert just one of 14 third down attempts. The only reason this grade isn't perfect is Jason Cabinda having two really good chances to intercept the ball and not doing so. It's nit-picking, but when you're dominating everything else it's the only noticeable negative. Rutgers is bad, Brandon Bell and company are good. It showed and there isn't much more you need to know about this group.

Special Teams: C

Tyler Davis was a perfect 4-for-4 from all over the field in both directions and in a wind that even made his reliable leg look shaky. Davis did his job, but Miles Sanders' fumble to open the game, a fumble on a PAT and a few questionable snaps on field goals drag this grade down. Penn State did block a punt on a play that essentially blew the game open, but there were too many mistakes for this grade to be any higher and it probably could be lower.

The saving factor really was tackling on kickoffs and Gregg Garrity who caught every punt that went his way in horrible conditions. Blake Gillikin was reliable as well in limited action averaging 47 yards a punt on three attempts including a 50-yarder.

This group has had its fair share of hiccups saved by big plays the past few weeks and it was more of the same on Saturday.

Overall: B+

Giving up fewer than 100 yards of offense, scoring 39 points and never really breaking a sweat makes this an easy A in most cases. The only reason this grade is a bit lower is the miscues and avoidable errors that popped up along the way. It didn't matter against Rutgers, but it will matter against Michigan State and if Penn State gets beyond that it will certainly matter in the postseason.

Overall Penn State wasn't bad, but we've seen the Nittany Lions play better.

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