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Penn State Football: Handing Out The Grades Following Penn State's Win Over Indiana

by on November 13, 2016 6:00 AM

Penn State found a way to win on Saturday despite a makeshift offensive line and a secondary that gave up several long passes and key third down conversions against a talented Indiana offense. The Nittany Lions move to 8-2 on the year with two more games remaining in the regular season before what could very well be a January bowl.

It wasn't a pretty game, but 45 points and over 400 yards of offense is an interesting way to go about having a "bad game." Here are the grades for one of the more bizarre wins for Penn State in recent memory.

Offense: B+

Penn State's offense wasn't great on Saturday, but 31 points in the final 16:09 and 411 yards of offense is all that really matters. The trouble here is that this unit wasn't nearly as consistent as it had been in recent weeks, but the catch here is a taped together offensive line after Paris Palmer went down with injury. Indiana was content to load the box and pressure the front and the Hoosiers were able to cover Penn State's receivers well in man-to-man coverage. With an advantage in the trenches it kept Saquon Barkley from doing his usual damage. Barkley did have a few key runs and a 21-yard scamper to go with two TDs, but in the end his 60 yards on 33 carries was not his usual output.

Penn State went 4-of-14 on third down while Mike Gesicki and Chris Godwin both hauled in five catches for 88 and 82-yards respectively. DaeSean Hamilton also had three catches for 85 yards as eight of Trace McSorley's 16 completions went for 20+ yards.

All told this wasn't a great outing in terms of the flow that the team has shown the past few weeks, but it says something about how far Penn State has come that people can nitpick a 45-point afternoon.

Defense: C

For a unit that seemed to be rounding into form this group didn't look the part on Saturday. Indiana converted 8-of-17 third downs and was getting big gains through the air with ease. The problem for the Hoosiers was consistency and five total turnovers. Those turnovers were generally self inflicted though and not so much the work of great defense. 

That being said a key fourth-and-1 at the goal line stop by Penn State was a big moment in the second half. This group made stops when it had to but it was far from its usual self for most of the game. The Nittany Lions were led by Marcus Allen who made 10 tackles while both Brandon Bell and Garrett Sickels had 2.5 tackles for a loss. 

To its credit, Penn State's defense made plays late in the game when it had to, but big gains by Indiana hurt this grade, especially in comparison to how this defense can play at its best.

Special Teams: C

With Chris Gulla out of the mix at the holder position there was some question if that would impact kicks. Turns out it didn't as Tyler Davis was perfect on the day with extra points and made a crucial 39-yarder in the fourth quarter to extend the lead.

Joey Julius had one kick go out of bounds and a bad snap was saved by Blake Gillikin yet again. Irvin Charles also dropped a kickoff but recovered it before his own return.

About the only other positive was Miles Sanders' 31-yard return to open the game, but beyond that this group was not up to par


This is a game Penn State loses probably each of the last four years. But it's also a game that showcased how far the Penn State program has come with its ability to take punches and punch back. This game was always going to be a tough test and a talented Indiana offense pushed Penn State to the limit. Overall this wasn't Penn State's best game of the year by far, but there is something to be said for finding a way to win when you aren't playing well and not playing well on the road. This grade could be lower, but it gets a bump for some intangibles that go beyond the box score.

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