Game Grades: Penn State Football vs. Wisconsin
Penn State is 1-0 in 2021, as the No. 19 ranked Nittany Lions went into Madison and walked away with a huge win over No. 12 Wisconsin, 16-10.
Penn State was held scoreless in the first half, but the defense was strong and held the Badgers scoreless. The offenses for both teams started to get going in the second half, and Penn State made the necessary plays to win the game.
Now, let’s hand out some game grades to the Nittany Lions after their big road win.
Penn State had a disaster of a first half on offense. The Nittany Lions were only able to pick up one first down, and registered only 43 yards. Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford struggled to get into a rhythm, and the running game was nowhere to be found with the team only having two rushing yards.
In the second half, Penn State picked up the tempo and started to take shots down the field. On their first drive of the half, Clifford found star receiver Jahan Dotson for a 49-yard touchdown and was able to find Dotson a few more times in the second half. Penn State was able to gain 254 yards in the second half, and scored 16 points, which would be enough for the Nittany Lions to leave Madison with the win.
Penn State’s defense put on a show in their trip to Madison. With the offensive struggles in the first half, the defense was able to hold the Wisconsin offense scoreless by making a lot of big plays.
Defensive end Arnold Ebiketie blocked a field goal in the second quarter to keep the Badgers off of the board. On the next drive, Nick Tarburton recovered a fumbled exchange between Graham Mertz and Chez Mellusi to get the Nittany Lions a turnover in the red zone.
The Penn State defense continued its strong play in the second half. The defense came up huge in the final minutes of the game, led by Jaquan Brisker. On fourth and goal with 2:16 to go, Brisker intercepted Mertz to keep the Badgers out of the end zone. Then on the final play of the game, Ji’Ayir Brown picked off Mertz as time expired to seal Penn State’s road win.
The defense played phenomenal in the game, and helped lead Penn State to their first victory of the season.
James Franklin had his hands full going into Camp Randall Stadium against a Wisconsin team that was able to feed off of the energy from the Badger fans. Even with that, Franklin had the team ready to play, and they made great adjustments at the half to win the game.
The coaching staff saw a weakness in the Wisconsin secondary, and coordinator Mike Yurcich exploited it by allowing Sean Clifford to throw deep in the second half. Yurcich also saw that a fast-tempo offense could help lead Penn State to success and used that. Penn State was snapping the ball immediately when the ball was set, and were able to begin to move the ball successfully with that adjustment.
Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry also drew up the perfect game plan to get the defense in position to succeed. Moving Jesse Luketa to defensive end seemed to be a great modification, as he was able to get pressure on Mertz.
Penn State’s coaching staff had the team ready to play in Madison, and were able to leave with the win.
Penn State next game is against Ball State on Sept. 11 at 3:30 p.m. in the home opener for the Nittany Lions.
Adam Sheetz is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.