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7 Unique Stats From Penn State Football’s 2022 Regular Season

Penn State might still have one game left to go but with the regular season in the books there are plenty of stats, figures and trends to look back on. Here are seven to enjoy as the Nittany Lions prepare for the Rose Bowl.

94 Passes Defended: Penn State finished the regular season leading the nation with 94 passes defended. It’s a category the Nittany Lions lead the nation in from wire-to-wire, a fairly remarkable feat considering how many teams are passing these days. The last time Penn State lead the Big Ten in this category was in 2011 with just 73 passes defended which ranked 14th nationally. The game has changed over the years but Penn State has a real shot at finishing out the entire season with over 100 passes broken up, a remarkable figure when you consider that Penn State has gone years when that total has sat around 40-60 passes broken up.

No. 9 In Scoring Defense: Manny Diaz’s defense finishes the regular season with the No. 9 ranked scoring defense giving up just 18 points per game. The Nittany Lions have done better than this in year’s past, but if this mark holds after the bowl game it would make for three-straight non-COVID years ending in the Top 10 of scoring defense. All told Penn State will have finished in the Top 10 of scoring defense four of the last six seasons. No surprise that Penn State has been in basically every game over that span.

373 Minutes of Possession: Time of possession is not a stat that holds a ton of water but it is interesting that Penn State went from being 14th in the Big Ten last year to fifth this season. It’s actually the first time Penn State has been in the Top 5 of the Big Ten’s possession stats since 2012. The gap isn’t all that noteworthy, Penn State added just 10 minutes of possession compared to last year but that is nearly an entire quarter more of having the ball. in 2017 Penn state had the ball for 394 minutes and in 2016 for 388 minutes. Both those marks should be eclipsed unless the bowl game is weird. Running the ball helps run up the clock.

18 Sacks Given Up: In 2021 Penn State gave up 34 sacks, so far through 12 games Penn State has given up just 18 sacks which is fourth-best in the Big Ten. Running the ball more successfully has helped that cause but Penn State has finished four of the last nine seasons dead last in the Big Ten in terms of sacks given up. Comparable good seasons came in 2011 when Penn State gave up 14, 2010 when it was just 11 and 2009 at 17. All told Penn State had finished 10th or worst in the Big Ten each of the last four seasons. Flipping that script didn’t hurt matters any.

66 Total Penalties: Generally speaking Penn State has been a fairly penalty conscious team under James Franklin, but 66 penalties in 2022 is 7th best/worst in the Big Ten. In fairness it’s not nearly as bad as Rutgers – 94 penalties this year – but it is the third-straight year Penn State will finish outside the Top 5 in the Big Ten. Since 2009 the Nittany Lions have fallen inside the Top 5 league wide on nine occasions. Penalties weren’t really a storyline this year, but it’s not a mistake that Penn State had some of its best seasons under James Franklin while committing some of its fewest penalties under James Franklin.

75% Red Zone Touchdown Rate: Penn State has scored 36 touchdowns while in the red zone this year which marks a 75% success rate of all red zone trips. That’s 7th best in the nation and second-best in the Big Ten behind Ohio State. The Nittany Lions finished last season with a 47% touchdown success rate in the red zone and haven’t done better than 75% except for in 2017 when the Nittany Lions punched it in for a touchdown 77.97% of the time. Good teams don’t always do their scoring from the red zone, but the Nittany Lions came away with maximum points at a pretty high rate. Never a bad thing.

95 Tackles For A Loss: Penn State has a good chance to finish out the entire season with over 100 tackles for a loss, which would mark the fifth time since 2013 that this has happened. The Nittany Lions have finished in the No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 spot in the Big Ten among tackles for a loss eight of the last nine seasons, coming in fourth in 2017. Penn State currently leads the Big Ten which if that holds, would be the first time the season ends that way since 2018. Penn State is seventh nationally in this department.