Penn State football bowl eligible after 31-30 win vs. Maryland

Barry Reeger / Trib Total Media

Barry Reeger / Trib Total Media

 

The Penn State Nittany Lion football team (6-2, 3-1 B1G) won a wild game on Saturday over Maryland (2-5, 0-3 B1G) by the score of 31-30 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

I thought things would be easier for the Lions, but Maryland QB Perry Hills gave Penn State trouble all afternoon, racking up 128 yards and a TD on the ground to go with 225 yards and a TD through the air. None of the Maryland RB’s came close to matching Hills’ rushing total.

Turnovers were a major factor throughout the game, three for Penn State and five for Maryland. As a Penn State fan, I can’t argue against the fact that the Terrapins outplayed us. Total yards were 470-363. Time of possession was 36:16-23:44, both in favor of Maryland. But in the end, it was Penn State’s defense that made the plays to win.

Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg completed only 13/29 of his passes, but benefited from the long ball all night, as he was still able to tally 315 yards through the air with 3 TD and zero interceptions.

Hackenberg nearly blew the game late in the fourth quarter, as he fumbled an easy snap from the shotgun on 3rd and 9, and Maryland recovered. The Terps took over in PSU territory down just a point, but the Penn State defense came up with one of their biggest stands of the year, highlighted by a 3rd down sack by DE Carl Nassib, whose NFL draft stock is rapidly rising. Maryland’s drive ended after a 4th and 10 completion netted only 7 yards.

On the ensuing drive, Penn State went three and out again, giving one last chance to the Terrapins. Needing only a field goal to win the game, Hills’ first down pass was tipped and intercepted by safety Malik Golden, and PSU was able to escape with their sixth win of the year.

PSU’s standout freshman RB, Saquon Barkley, had a relatively quiet game, rushing for only 65 yards on 20 carries, although he did start the game’s scoring with a 6-yard TD run in the 1st quarter.

After this win, Penn State will be heading to a bowl game for the second straight year, but the overall narrative for this season has yet to be determined. With four games against very solid teams left to play, a 2-2 record would likely lead PSU to a New Year’s Day bowl and an overall successful season, especially compared to last year’s 6-6 record. A 1-3 finish and the season will be viewed by many as a disappointment. A 3-1 finish would be a great success. Even if this season ends badly, James Franklin and Christian Hackenberg deserve some praise for leading this team to another bowl game while dealing with crippling sanctions from the NCAA. PSU’s fourth ranked recruiting class has me very optimistic of the future for James Franklin and the Nittany Lions.

 

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