As it stands, the 100th edition of an old Eastern football rivalry went to Penn State with the 17-10 victory. After dropping the first game of the renewed series in a 42-39 thriller in 2016, the Nittany Lions reeled off three straight, the middle two much more convincing than the last. In what’s becoming a reoccurring theme this season, we have yet to see a full game out of this squad of Nittany Lions. There have been spurts for sure but just as quickly as they flash their dominance, they revert back into a team that struggles mightily on both sides of the ball on third down and underperforms along a D-Line that was expected to be a strength. Pitt QB Kenny Pickett had a field day on our turf Saturday and had no business doing it. No disrespect to him but our WildDogs are better than that. With a bye week on tap, it’s high time that gets fixed if we truly expect to make some noise in the Big Ten.
With that said, this week’s Game Ball goes to our two specialists who have managed to make life miserable on opponents. Punter and senior captain Blake Gilliken spent the afternoon keeping Pitt pinned deep inside their own 20 all afternoon. Kicker Jordan Stout has completely snuffed the life out any attempt at a return game and tacked on a school-record 57-yard field goal as time expired going into halftime. Make no mistake, these two are weapons that very few teams have the luxury of owning in their arsenal. Now, if we can just get the rest of our talent up to speed instead of in spurts all those preseason expectations may come to fruition.
The argument could certainly be made for Micah Parsons to earn a second straight Game Ball, but for argument's sake, we’ll let #STIXCITY lead off the Helmet Sticker parade today instead. Journey Brown popped an 87-yard beauty of a run that set up the first touchdown and had over 100 yards on the day, but it was freshman Noah Cain that shouldered the load on the drive that eventually put us up by seven. Devyn Ford collected that TD to add another to his young resume and Ricky Slade added a sweet catch and run over the middle as well that atoned for last week’s fumble. Sean Clifford had somewhat of an off day, but considering the beating he took, a win is a win, and he now has three straight under his belt.
On defense, Boom Shaka-laka Toney collected a much-needed sack and kept the pressure on Pickett all day long. Ellis Brooks continues to be a force when he’s in and Tariq Castro-Fields has no problem laying the wood, as little as he looks out there. As a whole, it still feels like we have a defense that underperformed but it is a D that has allowed only 30 points in three games and gave up a measly 24 yards on the ground to Pitt, which is normally their forte. Imagine if they can right the ship, so to speak and get more out of those WildDogs as we all expected? Scary.
There’s no better time than the present to regroup, circle the wagons, and get ready to ‘Fear the Turtle’ in two weeks’ time. Nitpick this win over an old foe all you want but it was Maryland that saw their wheels come off and grind to a stumbling halt against….wait for it….our little brother from Philly, Temple. Now, if that doesn’t put a smile on your face I don’t know what will. Goodbye for now, Pitt, and good riddance from all of us here in Happy Valley!