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Analyzing Post-Maryland Reactions For Penn State Football

Penn State football is finally 1-0 again this week, ladies and gentlemen.

The Nittany Lions used a record-breaking performance from Jahan Dotson to take down Maryland 31-14 in College Park this past Saturday. With that, James Franklin’s group now sits at 6-3 on the season and is back to 3-3 in Big Ten play.

Penn State still has a tough slate ahead of it, but there’s a bit more positivity surrounding the Nittany Lions with a quarter of the 2021 regular season left. With that, let’s analyze some hot takes surrounding Franklin’s team:

‘Penn State Is Going To Make A Run At The Rose Bowl’

Will Pegler: Following Michigan State’s defeat to Purdue, this discussion is starting to pick up this week. Look, if the Nittany Lions win out and Ohio State rolls to the Big Ten Championship and wins, Penn State is the second-best team in the Big Ten. However, it still seems to be a pretty tall order for this team to actually win the rest of the games on its slate. The Rose Bowl is still technically a possibility, sure. But for now, I’m not willing to chalk up a 9-3 record for the Nittany Lions.

Sam Brungo: I think as long as the Nittany Lions win out, the Rose Bowl belongs to them. Assuming Ohio State will represent the Big Ten in the CFP, the postseason has New Year’s Six written all over it if Penn State can take care of business in its final three games.

Ryan Parsons: There are two obstacles here. First, Penn State actually has to win out. While a win over Michigan might seem likely, the Nittany Lions could easily fall to both the Wolverines and Michigan State, which would clearly knock them out of Rose Bowl contention. The second hurdle is the selection committee, which would still need to pick Penn State over what will likely be an Iowa team coming out of the Big Ten West. It’s fun to dream big and this is a possible scenario, but I wouldn’t say it’s likely at the moment.

Gabe Angieri: Let’s pump the brakes, folks. First off, Penn State has to win out for this to happen, which is far from a guarantee. Additionally, even if the Nittany Lions win out, they would need Iowa to lose a few games, as the Hawkeyes currently have only two losses and have the head-to-head win over Penn State. Anything is possible, but I think as of now, this is a long shot.

‘Keyvone Lee Needs To Be The Lead Running Back’

Will Pegler: James Franklin is still making it clear that not one rusher has established himself as the clear leader of the group. However, Keyvone Lee has arguably been most consistent of late. The by-committee approach has yet to work at all for Ja’Juan Seider’s group, so why not switch things up and let Lee take the lead for a game?

Sam Brungo: The running back room has been the biggest question all year. Down the stretch, it should remain that the hot hand gets the ball. Penn State’s running back room has been by committee all year long and I don’t see that changing. Cain, Lovett, and Lee — none of them have done enough to make the job theirs alone. Perform well, and you get the ball.

Ryan Parsons: I think it’s pretty hard to just say this outright. Each rusher has been hot-and-cold and although Lee is the best runner statistically, that doesn’t tell the whole story. His average numbers are conflated by his lower amount of carries and a few big plays. The rotation is pretty odd at the moment, but I think the Nittany Lions need to continue riding the hot hand.

Gabe Angieri: I’m completely on board with this. Keyvone Lee is the only back to average more than five yards per carry this year, as Noah Cain and John Lovett are both averaging under four yards per carry. The by-committee approach clearly hasn’t been working, and Lee proved last season he’s capable of carrying the load. It’s time to feature Lee and run the damn ball.

‘Jahan Dotson Is The Best Wide Receiver Penn State Has Ever Had’

Will Pegler: This statement carries a lot of weight, but I don’t see it as that much of a stretch. Dotson has been so dominant this season and is breaking records that clearly place him in the upper echelon of Penn State receivers. If he stays hot and finishes this season on a tear, along with a signature performance in a bowl game, and this title could absolutely belong to Dotson.

Sam Brungo: It’s really starting to look like it. Dotson has broken out of the second tier of Allen Robinson, Jordan Norwood, and Deon Butler. He is now in the conversation of DaeSean Hamilton and Bobby Engram. With a strong finish to the season, Dotson can solidify himself at top of that list and create himself a new top tier. Long story short, yes.

Ryan Parsons: Dotson checks all the boxes. He’s a great dude, an effective route runner, an elite pass-catcher, and he’s damn fast. With a big run down the stretch against Michigan and Michigan State, he could start to put himself near the top of a lot of Penn State’s all-time statistical categories. He’s clearly in the upper echelon already, and will likely become the GOAT when the dust settles.

Gabe Angieri: Jahan Dotson’s not only an amazing football player, but he might even be the easiest guy on the team to root for. He’s just an awesome dude. Penn State has had a lot of great receivers, and I think Dotson is as good as any. Yes, he may not hold many all-time program records by the time he leaves Happy Valley. However, he very well could be the best pound-for-pound wideout in program history.

‘Ji’Ayir Brown And Jaquan Brisker Are The Best Safety Duo In The Country’

Will Pegler: Yes. Both of these guys are NFL-ready players, and Brisker could very well be one of the first safeties taken in this year’s draft. As for Brown, he’s proved himself a more than serviceable weapon alongside Brisker — namely in making tackles and forcing turnovers on a consistent basis. Both of them are ballers, and fans should be excited to see what they’ll continue to do the rest of the way.

Sam Brungo: I don’t think I have watched enough film from other teams to say this definitively, but I do think that they should be somewhere in the conversation. Notre Dame, Iowa, and Oregon also have great secondaries. However, Brown really compliments Jaquan Brisker perfectly, and I feel that Brisker is the best safety in the country.

Ryan Parsons: Since I cover the team every week I’d be lying if I said I’ve watched a lot of other college football games, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find another duo that’s as effective as this one. Brisker is clearly on track for an All-American season, and Brown continues to impress and make clutch plays. It’s an argument to be made for sure.

Gabe Angieri: I’m not going to act like I’ve scouted every safety duo in college football, but I find it hard to believe there’s a duo that’s noticeably better than Brisker and Brown. The duo has been incredible all season for Brent Pry’s defense, forcing turnovers and locking down the backend of the defense. These guys are damn good, and I think they both have a very bright future in the NFL.

‘Penn State’s Rushers Will Put Things Together Down The Stretch’

Will Pegler: This really depends on what “putting it together” means for you. If it means suddenly having a 100-yard rushing game for one back, then no, I do not see that happening. However, if someone like Keyvone Lee can start to get into a rhythm and at least force opposing defenses to have some respect for the run game, then that would be a marked improvement from several games so far. Either way, this will be extremely dependent on Phil Trautwein’s offensive line. If that group continues to struggle, I don’t see much improvement coming for the running backs.

Sam Brungo: All three phases need to get it going to have a successful finish. One phase is clearly sitting in the backseat here, and they need to find their way to the front.

Ryan Parsons: I don’t think this is going to happen the way fans want it to. Yes, I think Ja’Juan Seider’s group is going to improve down the stretch. But, I think it’s going to be in smaller ways that don’t stuff the stat sheet. I could see shorter runs being more explosive and defenses respect the trenches more, but I don’t think this Penn State team will ever have a truly successful ground game.

Gabe Angieri: This past Saturday was an encouraging sign for Penn State’s rushing attack. I’m not ready to place all my eggs in one basket and say the running game is back, though. I need to see more, but another solid performance against Michigan could start to sway things for me.

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