Five Things We Learned: Maryland
No. 12 Penn State had an impressive showing in its regular season finale, sending out 21 seniors victorious in a 38-3 win over Maryland at a cold and wet Beaver Stadium on Saturday.
The Nittany Lions finish the regular season with a 9-3 record and will play in a bowl game next month. The Nittany Lions will hope to play in their third consecutive New Year's Six bowl game.
The Terrapins season concludes with a 5-7 record falling one win short of bowl eligibility. Here are five things we learned from Saturday’s game.
1. Trace McSorley was back to being the normal Trace McSorley
The past couple of games, the Nittany Lions star quarterback did not look right while continuing to deal with a knee injury. He was less accurate with his throws and was not the same threat as a runner either.
On Saturday, he had 230 passing yards and one touchdown showing a lot more accuracy and also had 64 rushing yards and two touchdowns showing the running ability that Penn State fans are used to.
McSorley has given fans a lot to cheer about at Beaver Stadium the past two seasons. He gave them one last great performance on Saturday.
2. Even with a dynamic quarterback, the running game makes this offense go
Penn State has a dynamic running game, and that showed on Saturday with 310 rushing yards. Miles Sanders had 128 yards and averaged over nine yards a carry. Other than some fumbling issues with Sanders, he is a dynamic runner.
Freshman Ricky Slade also contributed 64 yards and two touchdowns. The quarterbacks McSorley and Tommy Stevens combined for 99 yards and two touchdowns.
Besides McSorley, the entire offense could return next year and continue to have a dynamic running game.
3. Penn State’s offensive line finally looks like a seasoned unit
One of James Franklin’s goals when he was first hired was to fix the offensive line, the position that was hit hardest by the sanctions. It’s taken a couple years, but it looks like he finally might have done it.
Minus the Michigan game, this unit looked like it improved a lot. The past couple games, and especially Saturday, they were the ones getting the push and opening up running lanes. Ryan Bates and Connor McGovern could be two All-Big Ten candidates. They’ve been opening a lot of lanes lately.
4. This defense continues to improve and has a bright future
Coming into this season, Penn State’s defense had to replace eight starters. The first four games of the season, there were a lot of growing pains.
Since the Ohio State game, this defense has been a productive unit. Maryland is a run first team with a dynamic running back in Anthony McFarland, and they made him invisible.
There were too many good defensive performances to name in this game; it was a whole team effort. This unit loses only three starters with plenty of young talent still up and coming; this unit could be excellent next season.
5. This group of seniors accomplished a lot for this program
This group of seniors came to Penn State when it was still a program with backbreaking NCAA sanctions. They left with a Big Ten Championship, a Rose Bowl appearance, a Fiesta Bowl win and a chance at three straight ten-win seasons.
It wasn’t just McSorley. Guys like Amani Oruwariye, Nick Scott, Koa Farmer and Deandre Thompkins have played major roles during their playing careers. Even the walk-ons from the scout team, who don't get the same recognition as the stars, have played a major role.
All 21 players who have played their last game at Beaver Stadium should be nothing but proud of themselves. They've earned everything they’ve accomplished.
Kevin McConlogue is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in political science. To contact him email email@example.com.