Penn State Nittany Lions Come Out Strong Against Wisconsin Badgers

Penn State did not start the season strong in 2020. They started the season 0-5 and were getting blown out in multiple games before winning the last four games of the season in deciding fashion. The Nittany Lions started 2021 on the complete opposite foot than 2020. They opened the season at Wisconsin, the #12 team in the country. Penn State showed up defensively and left Wisconsin with a win. 

Defense was the story in Week 1

Jaquan Brisker and the Nittany Lions defense came up big against Wisconsin.

Both Penn State and Wisconsin came out of the gate slow on offense. Penn State only had one first down in the first half and had a lot of trouble moving the ball. The defense on the other hand was the story of the game. Wisconsin controlled possession. The Badgers had the ball for 42:51 with the Nittany Lions having the ball for 17:09. The defense bent but never broke and stood tall when they needed to. Penn State stood tall at the goal line on multiple occasions, put the necessary pressure on Graham Mertz, and got the turnovers when they needed them the most.

The shining jewel of today’s game was the Penn State secondary. They shined the brightest on the final drive of the game with Penn State up by six. Wisconsin was driving down the field with no time outs and limited time on the clock. An intentional grounding penalty and a missed opportunity by Wisconsin helped the Lions hold their ground. Ji’Ayir Brown intercepted the final pass of the game to seal the win. This is quite the win to start the season and ride this high against Ball State at home next week.

Offense Stumbled but Picked themselves up

Sean Clifford came alive in the second half and led the Lions offense

The first half was hard to watch on the offensive side of the ball. The Lions managed one first down in the first half and struggled immensely on the ground. Noah Cain led the team in rushing with 48 yards on 8 carries. Seems like decent production but he was horribly inefficient. 34 of his 48 yards came on one play. The air attack however came alive in the second half. Sean Clifford opened the scoring with a 49-yard strike to Jahan Dotson. Clifford spread the ball around well and all 3 of his top weapons were heavily involved in the passing game. Dotson had 102 yards and a touchdown, Parker Washington had 4 catches for 47 yards, and KeAndre Lambert-Smith had 4 catches for 71 yards. Clifford’s arm kept the Lions in the game as the running game struggled. Look for Noah Cain to come back in a big way against Ball State next week.

Final Thoughts

This is a signature win for James Franklin and the Nittany Lions in week 1. This is a win that the CFP committee will look at if the Nittany Lions have continued success. James Franklin prepared this team extremely well and came in with an excellent game plan against the Badgers. New offensive-coordinator, Mike Yurich, pushed the tempo and kept Wisconsin on their heels. The offense did enough while the defense seemed special. This is a win that will set the tone for the whole season and one that will look good on their resume come bowl season.

-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)

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