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Penn State’s Post-Wisconsin Report Card

No. 16 Penn State football took down Wisconsin 22-10 on Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium.

Wisconsin took an early lead, but the Nittany Lions rebounded and won the game fairly comfortably in the end. Here’s a look back at how some of the most important Nittany Lions performed in their seventh victory of the season.

Quarterback: B

Trace McSorley and Tommy Stevens rotated once again on Saturday because of an apparent lower-body injury for McSorley that’s probably related to the knee injury he sustained against Iowa.

The starter had a good day overall, finishing the game 19-for-25 with 160 passing yards and a score. McSorley took care of the ball well — he didn’t throw an interception for the first time since week 7. One negative of McSorley’s game was another tough day on the ground, as he ran for just nine yards on 11 carries.

Tommy Stevens didn’t throw a pass in relief of McSorley, but he was okay on the ground with 25 yards on seven rushing attempts. Stevens’ package on offense simply hasn’t been all that productive this year, which is surprising considering the starting Lion’s sheer athleticism.

Backs & Receivers: B+

Miles Sanders was probably Penn State’s most effective and most consistent offensive player on Saturday.

Sanders crossed the century mark for the fourth time this season after gaining 159 yards on the ground. He also scored from a yard out to give the Nittany Lions a two-score lead midway through the second quarter. Penn State did not rotate much at the running back position, but that’s probably because Sanders consistently found ways to pick up big chunks of yards against the Badger defensive front.

The receivers had an okay, if quiet, day for the Nittany Lions. Sanders nearly matched the Nittany Lions’ passing yardage on his own thanks to new, strange playcalling in the passing game. John Donovan’s spirit has clearly found its way into Ricky Rahne’s soul, as he called multiple bubble screens.

KJ Hamler was on the receiving end of most of those screen passes — he hauled in five passes for an uncharacteristically low 35 yards. The freshman’s longest gain was just 10 yards, but Rahne seemed adamant about putting the ball in his hands. DeAndre Thompkins hauled in a 14-yard touchdown in the first quarter, but otherwise tallied only four catches for 17 yards,

Jahan Dotson led the Nittany Lions in receiving yards with 39 yards on two receptions in his first collegiate start. Dotson should be a bigger part of the offense in Penn State’s final two regular season games and bowl appearance after another solid, drop-free performance.

Offensive Line: A-

Penn State’s offensive front allowed three sacks and seven tackles-for-loss on Saturday, but the Nittany Lions were also able to run all over Wisconsin’s defense.

Miles Sanders’ excellent performance happened in large part because of the offensive line’s push against the Badgers’ defensive front. Sanders himself gave the unit tons of credit for his big day, and it certainly deserves plenty of praise for bouncing back from a brutal effort at Michigan last week.

Front Seven: A-

Penn State’s front seven couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start on Saturday, but they recovered to dominate the trenches for the remainder of the game.

Jonathan Taylor’s 71-yard touchdown run on Wisconsin’s third offensive play was the defensive front’s only major blemish. The group allowed 138 rushing yards outside of that one play — that number doesn’t look great, but against one of the nation’s best backs, it could certainly be worse.

The Badgers couldn’t get anything going in the passing game on Saturday. Alex Hornibrook’s absence certainly didn’t help, but Sean Spencer’s Wild Dogs made life chaotic for backup Jack Coan.

Wisconsin native Robert Windsor had his best game of the season with six tackles and two sacks, and Shareef Miller also added two sacks in the game. Yetur Gross-Matos recorded another sack and two tackles for loss to cap off an overall excellent day for the defensive line.

Secondary: A

Wisconsin’s passing game was non-existent against Penn State, so the secondary wasn’t all that busy.

Jack Coan finished the game 9-for-20 with 60 yards and two interceptions. Amani Oruwariye and Nick Scott each picked off a pass from the Badgers’ backup quarterback near the end of the first and second halves, respectively.

Scott led the secondary with five tackles, but there was a lot more rotation at the other safety position. Garrett Taylor had a quieter day with just two tackles, but Jonathan Sutherland made three tackles when he played in Taylor’s spot.

Rotating the two safeties is an interesting concept — the Nittany Lions utilized Sutherland’s hit power and aggressiveness in place of Taylor’s excellent positioning and instincts.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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