Five Things We Learned: Maryland
Penn State concluded their 10-2 regular season with a blowout victory over the Maryland Terrapins by the score of 66-3. The whole roster got involved on a day where the Nittany Lions never left the game in question. Here are five things that we learned from the victory in College Park:
1. Maryland-Penn State is not a rivalry, and will not be for the foreseeable future.
Saturday night’s game is the latest example of how these two programs are not comparable, let alone in consideration for a rivalry. With the two programs squaring off on rivalry week this year along with the next, it’s apparent that the Big Ten has interest in making PSU-UMD into a rivalry.
Beside some chippy football played and some players that may not have wanted to shake hands, a series record of 38-2-1 in favor of Penn State shows that this rivalry is simply non-existent. Traditionally, in rivalry games, the worse team plays up to the better team, making the games incredibly interesting. Saturday night’s game is a clear indication that that did not occur, and Penn State remains, as they declare themselves, “unrivaled”.
2. Mike Gesicki should win the John Mackey Award.
This game further showcased why Mike Gesicki is the best tight end in the country. The John Mackey Award goes to such a player. Gesicki has had blocking troubles in the past, being widely regarded as, “just another receiver”. Gesicki has improved such struggles as seen early in the third quarter. On a Saquon Barkley touchdown, Gesicki laid a crucial block when he sealed the edge that enabled Barkley to go over the top of the line to score.
Not to mention, Gesicki had two touchdowns, one of which being the variety of a spectacular one-handed snag in the back corner of the end zone. Mike Gesicki has had a glorious career as a Nittany Lion, filling the very prestigious shoes of now Pittsburgh Steeler, Jesse James. This career should culminate in Gesicki earning the John Mackey Award, as he is clearly the best TE in the country.
3. Penn State has two quality starting quarterbacks on its roster.
In a game that seemed over after the first drive, backup quarterback Tommy Stevens got a large amount of time at the quarterback position. After accepting that Trace McSorely has secured the starting role at QB, Stevens has adapted the niche of being a playmaker in Joe Moorhead’s crafty offensive schemes. This was shown off on the first drive of the game when Stevens scored from 21 yards out on a fake reverse.
Stevens got to show off his abilities as a signal caller in the second half. Stevens ended up having four total touchdowns and 114 rushing yards, averaging 9.4 yards per carry. Stevens had a deceptively sub-par game when it came to the passing game, as he went three-for-seven with two blatant drops from Irvin Charles. Although Tommy Stevens seems to love Penn State, he has the talent of a starting quarterback for almost every school in the country. With it being incredibly likely Trace McSorely will return for his senior year to resume his role as QB1, it would not be surprising if Stevens takes his talents elsewhere to be a starting quarterback.
4. Miles Sanders will do great things as Saquon Barkley’s successor in 2018.
With the probable departure of Penn State great, Saquon Barkley, Sanders is next in line to take the reigns as RB1. The sophomore continues to show great speed and agility when used at running back. In Saturday night’s lopsided affair, Sanders averaged 6 yards per carry, including a 31-yard scamper that showcased Sanders’ Barkley-like abilities at running back. While Miles Sanders still has much room for improvement, the run game will be dangerous in the future as the offensive line will likely improve after adding a year of experience.
5. Four points separate Penn State from No. 1 in the nation.
After the chaos that ensued in both last week and this week in college football, it’s clear that there is no true, clear-cut best team in the nation as there has been in years past. Penn State, expectedly, handily won-out after losing to Ohio State and Michigan State by a combined four points. Win one of those games, and Penn State is in the top-five. Win both, and Penn State is sitting at the top of the nation awaiting the Big Ten Championship game against Wisconsin for the second consecutive year.
Hypotheticals hold next to no ground, but seeing how the landscape of college football across the country has developed, it’s hard to not once again realize how truly devastating both losses were in the middle of the season.
Christian Katt is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.