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Penn State’s Playoff Hopes are Gone after Loss at Michigan State

Penn State vs. Michigan State: Battle for the Land Grant Trophy

The Land Grant Trophy returned to East Lansing. Penn State’s playoff hopes are now gone. Michigan State upset the Nittany Lions on a game-winning field goal on Saturday, 27-24. The Big Ten East battle was hard-fought and sloppy, featuring a three-hour weather delay. The game started at 12:00 pm EDT and finished nearly seven hours later. Penn State star running back Saquon Barkley failed to get going on a waterlogged field. The Nittany Lion defense had no response for Felton Davis III. After losing for a second straight week, Penn State falls to 7-2 on the season. Any hope of a Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff birth is in the past.

Offense Takeaways

Penn State’s offense did not have many positives on Saturday. Trace McSorley passed former Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg to become Penn State’s all-time career passing touchdowns leader. He threw three touchdowns, but he also had three costly interceptions. Furthermore, eight different receivers were utilized during unfavorable playing conditions. Three different Nittany Lion receivers recorded touchdowns.

Penn State’s junior running back, Saquon Barkley, had a lackluster individual performance on Saturday. Barkley rushed for just 63 yards on 14 carries and did not record a touchdown. Even still, the junior running back showed value in all facets of the game. Barkley became a key blocker on several plays, allowing McSorley to get the ball downfield with a struggling offensive line. In addition, he lined up in the wildcat and threw a 20-yard dart to tight end Mike Gesicki for a key first down. There is a lot to improve on going into the final three games of the regular season, but Penn State’s playoff hopes are gone after the loss to Michigan State.

Defense Takeaways

The weather and the soaking wet field were very unforgiving to the Penn State defense on Saturday. The secondary had no answer for Felton Davis III and Brian Lewerke. Lewerke passed for 400 yards, two touchdowns with one interception on Saturday. The lone interception for the former No. 1 passing defense in the country came off of a grab by cornerback Amani Oruwariye in the fourth quarter.

Furthermore, the Spartan signal caller utilized eight different receivers. Leading the receiver pack was Davis. Davis had 12 receptions for 181 yards and one touchdown. The Nittany Lion defense sent pressure more than not on Saturday but only came away with two sacks and four tackles for loss. The pass beat Penn State. The Spartans were only able to amass 74 yards rushing. Furthermore, penalties played a major factor for the Penn State defense. A team that had hardly been penalized all season allowed emotion to get the best of them on Saturday. Veteran safety Marcus Allen got flagged for a late hit on Lewerke in the fourth quarter. This resulted in Michigan State entering field goal range, ultimately allowing a game-winning field goal.

Looking Ahead

The Penn State Nittany Lions return home on Saturday for Homecoming in Happy Valley against a struggling Rutgers team. As Penn State’s playoff hopes are gone after the loss at Michigan State, both the offense and defense look to get back on track to finish the season strong. This is a young team with a lot of improving left to do. Expect a big win in Beaver Stadium on Homecoming.

Main Photo Credit:

Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins (3) sprints toward the end zone for a touchdown on November 4, 2017. (Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)



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