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Penn State Renews Program Dominance Over Maryland With Shutout Win

When the clock ticked down to double zeroes after Penn State football’s shutout win over Maryland, nearly nobody was left in a soggy Beaver Stadium.

But it didn’t matter.

The Nittany Lions built a 27-point lead by halftime and were just about ready to plug in their reserves. Despite a rainy and eventually cold day, nearly 109,000 people filed into the bleachers in Happy Valley.

Penn State fans braved the Hurricane Nicole-ridden tailgate lots, donned their favorite ponchos, and helped create an early environment that James Franklin called a “major factor.” Everyone had moved on to cozying up in Cafe 210 West or The Tavern by the time Drew Allar checked in. Their work here was done.

It would take a miracle for that to happen at Maryland Stadium, especially in November. How many folks in black and red showed up to these types of games in College Park last year?

“Not a lot,” former Terrapin and current Penn State defensive end Chop Robinson said. “Less than 10,000,” he estimated.

The Nittany Lions might not have needed a crowd to dispatch Maryland Saturday afternoon, but it certainly helped. Many will probably chalk this one up as just another win over a Big Ten bottom-feeder, but it was a win that Penn State needed.

Franklin has picked up a knack for losing to teams that he maybe shouldn’t lose to. You saw Illinois last year, Michigan State in 2018, and these same Terrapins, among a slew of other teams, in 2020.

No win is a given and Penn State, on its continuous journey toward becoming elite, is working its way back to the top tier of the conference. It starts with dominating the programs you’re supposed to, both on and off the field.

The Nittany Lions have lost to Maryland just three times in the two teams’ 45 meetings. After a two-score win in 2021 and a loss in 2020, a 30-point beatdown was refreshing and a leap in the right direction.

And the Terrapins aren’t exactly bottom-feeding this year. They lost to No. 3 Michigan by just seven points and entered the matchup with just one less win than Penn State. Sean Clifford noted postgame that Maryland is a “very good football team.”

You could go on and on about the on-field dominance. Maryland was ranked fourth in the Big Ten in scoring offense but entered halftime averaging just one yard per play. Taulia Tagovailoa was sacked seven times. No Penn State quarterback was sacked. Nick Singleton averaged more than 11 yards per carry. Maryland scored 0 points. Penn State scored 30.

But, this win went beyond the dominance between the white lines. After the game, Franklin, with dozens of recruits who likely had offers from both programs watching on, lauded Penn State’s program as a whole.

“Our fans come out. It differentiates us and it makes us special at a time where it’s hard to find ways to differentiate yourself in college football,” the head coach said. “Everybody’s trying to find ways to do it…this is special.”

The Nittany Lions put an impressive product on the field and continued to polish a program brand that’s taken a beating over the last few years. In college football, that’s important.

Less than 60% of Maryland’s stadium was filled for its home opener this year. The season peaked was 67%. At Penn State, that’s never a concern.

A six-figure number of people looked at their phones, saw a 100% chance of rain, and shrugged it off, piling into a hunk of metal in the middle of central Pennsylvania because, well, that’s just how it is. It’s borderline psychotic. But it’s a point of difference.

“I think that’s one of the things that’s probably most amazing about this place,” Franklin said.

After the game, Clifford reflected a bit on his decision to come to Penn State. He said was taught from the get-go to have an appreciation for Happy Valley and not to have regrets — he “loves everything about this place.”

A win over Maryland might just be another box to check en route to a potential New Year’s Six bid. But, it feels more important, like a renewing of program dominance and proof of concept for Penn State, especially given its 11-11 record over the last two seasons.

But, Robinson put it best.

“Penn State is Penn State and Maryland is Maryland,” he said.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a redshirt senior majoring in business and journalism from "Philadelphia" and mostly writes about football nowadays. You can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9 or say hi via email at [email protected]

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