Analyzing Post-Ohio State Reactions For Penn State Football
Another year has come and gone, and Penn State still can’t beat Ohio State.
The Nittany Lions struggled at Ohio Stadium in the team’s seventh-straight loss to the Buckeyes to end its undefeated streak of 11 games that traced back to last year’s loss against Ohio State.
With the loss, Penn State fans had plenty of opinions. Our beat writers took a look at some of the hottest with the Nittany Lions now sitting slightly less pretty at 6-1.
The Drew Allar Hype Is Dead
CJ Doebler: Yes, Drew Allar had a bad game, but his coaches didn’t help him much. Allar threw the ball a career-high 42 times on Saturday and with a weak receiving corps, he often had nowhere to go. The run game was supposed to be key, but coaches abandoned the running backs and asked Allar to make plays that he hadn’t been asked to make all season. I think Allar is far from his ceiling, but he needs his coaches to assist in developing the talent he clearly has instead of setting him up for failure like they did in Columbus.
Joe Lister: As in the Heisman hype for this season? Yes. As in his hype as a top quarterback in college by the time he leaves? Absolutely not. Drew Allar had a rough day against the Buckeyes, there’s no doubt about that. He looked uncomfortable and didn’t necessarily rise to the occasion. But he didn’t have much help either.
Allar still has that magical arm that allows him to place the ball wherever he likes. The issue is just that his WR1 is KeAndre Lambert-Smith, his WR2 is Trey Wallace, and his WR3 is basically nobody. But give Penn State some time to pull a top prospect from the transfer portal, Allar could be in the Heisman race next year. Let the kid grow, please.
Nolan Wick: Well, it was far-fetched that Drew Allar was going to have a Heisman-level season in his first go around. Aside from a poor outing against Ohio State, which had plenty to do with the coaching staff and his supporting cast, he’s been decent this season. He has the necessary tools to become an elite quarterback, but it will take time.
James Franklin Should Be On The Hot Seat
CJ Doebler: This take really isn’t worth discussing. While it would be nice to hold James Franklin accountable for his coaching decisions, the previous administration gave Franklin a license to do whatever he wanted with his 10-year, $80 million contract extension signed in 2021. Franklin’s contract buyout doesn’t become feasible for the university for another few years, so whether you think Franklin should be on the hot seat or not, he’s not going anywhere.
Joe Lister: James Franklin’s seat should have been warm for the past five years, but the fact is that an $8 million contract will keep him off it. Want somebody to blame for Saturday’s loss (and the lack of change that will come afterward)? Point your fingers at former AD Sandy Barbour. Franklin should be on the hot seat or at least Penn State should be looking at other options. But standing in the way of avoiding a 10-2 ceiling is $64 million.
Nolan Wick: I’ve thought about this long and hard. James Franklin’s consistent failures against Ohio State, Michigan, and other top-10 teams are infuriating. I believe some of his decision-making has helped lead Penn State to lose some of those matchups, including on Saturday. I understand that he can’t win them all, but at least win some. What we’ve gotten for the last several years is overpromising and underdelivering, and Penn State deserves better than that.
This program is too storied for 10-2 and a New Year’s Six Bowl appearance to be the standard every year. Whether he’s the problem or not, the ceiling needs to be higher. It is possible to do better than this at Penn State, and if he can’t, find someone who can. He’s brought stability and keeps the program in good shape, but can he bring it to the next level? I’ll believe it when I see it.
Penn State Was Overrated Before Ohio State And Just Got Exposed
CJ Doebler: It’s starting to look like it. Penn State’s only statement win of the season was against an Iowa team that looked like it may go undefeated the rest of the way, but the Hawkeyes lost to Minnesota over the weekend and dealt a significant blow to the Nittany Lions’ strength of schedule. Penn State’s opponents up to this point in the season provided little insight into how good the team actually was. Sure, Penn State beat UMass 63-0 last week, but I’ve come to believe that the writers in the press box could’ve also put up those kinds of numbers had we suited up instead.
Joe Lister: I’d argue that Penn State was perfectly rated. A No. 7 team slugged it out with a No. 3 team and lost in the stadium of the No. 3 team. Shocker. Penn State will have an uphill battle to reach the top four spots, but this team is probably the sixth-best team in the country. At Beaver Stadium, it can probably beat all but three teams.
Nolan Wick: Penn State is definitely a top-10 team, but not College Football Playoff-worthy. It lost a game it was favored to lose against the No. 3 team in America on the road — such is life. The defense is championship-caliber, but the offense is holding the team back from being in the same category.
Penn State Has The Worst WR Corps In The Big Ten
CJ Doebler: Not the worst, but far from the best. All throughout the preseason it appeared like the Nittany Lions were going to have trouble finding a good option for a third wide receiver. Now it looks like they’re having trouble finding a wide receiver period. KeAndre Lambert-Smith, Allar’s top target and Penn State’s best receiver, was the only player on the Nittany Lions to catch more than two passes on Saturday and was targeted 12 times, the most of any receiver. Lambert-Smith only caught 50% of his targets for just 52 yards. Franklin himself admitted postgame that Allar “needs some guys to make a play for him on a more consistent basis,” and he’s absolutely right.
Joe Lister: Maybe. Probably. These guys are brutal. KeAndre Lambert-Smith doesn’t have the speed or separation to get away from most of the DBs that he’s faced this year, and Trey Wallace just isn’t contributing like a No. 2 option. Penn State is a long way from finding another Jahan Dotson, folks.
Nolan Wick: Penn State’s wide receiver corps leaves much to be desired. They can’t separate from other defensive backs and often can’t seem to hold onto the ball. KeAndre Lambert-Smith isn’t a sufficient enough No. 1 wide receiver, and I haven’t been too impressed with anyone else, either. It’s hard to believe this program has had the likes of Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, and Jahan Dotson right now. Recruiting this position needs to become a higher priority.
The Season Is Dead
CJ Doebler: Everyone seems to forget that the Nittany Lions still have a date with the Wolverines on November 11. While the team we saw on Saturday has no chance of beating the high-powered Wolverines, three weeks is a long time and the home-field advantage will surely help the Nittany Lions’ chances. A win against Michigan along with a Wolverine victory over the Buckeyes would still send the Big Ten East to a tiebreaker. The season took a big hit on Saturday, but there’s still a sliver of hope left.
Joe Lister: It sure feels like it. Yes, Penn State will make a New Year’s Six bowl game and win it, and Franklin will get to say that he’s won five of the six New Year’s Six games or something like that. But anything short of a playoff appearance with this team is a failure. Sure, there are some situations where Penn State pulls off a win against Michigan at home and somehow takes the tiebreakers, but it feels like a long shot right now.
Nolan Wick: It’s not dead, but rather on life support. Beating Michigan is crucial to living up to the preseason hype of this team being a contender to reach the College Football Playoff, but that’s highly unlikely to happen even at Beaver Stadium. I’d like to table the remainder of this discussion until after that game, but it’s not looking good.
Mike Yurcich Should Be Out Of A Job
CJ Doebler: I’ve been defending Mike Yurcich all season. I shouldn’t have. The offensive on Saturday was very bad, and that ultimately falls on Yurcich. The Nittany Lions passed the ball on 3rd-and-1 during one of their better drives of the game and had to punt. Penn State ruined another promising drive with a 3rd-and-5 rushing play. The running back room of Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen seem to be struggling more this year than they did last year, but they barely got a chance against the Buckeyes, carrying the ball nine times each for 74 combined yards.
Franklin hammered the importance of sticking to the team’s identity prior to the game and then completely switched the team’s identity once the game got going. Against Iowa, Franklin said he was on the headset telling Yurcich to not get bored with the screen passes and running game because they were working. Evidently, he didn’t have the same message for Yurcich on Saturday.
Joe Lister: Yurcich is the latest OC disappointment in a long line of OC disappointments under Franklin. The play calling on Saturday was atrocious at points. He wasn’t the lone reason for Penn State’s loss against the Buckeyes. But he sure didn’t help much. Yurcich isn’t bad enough to the point that he needs to go now, but it’s not unreasonable to ask Franklin to look at replacements over the offseason.
Nolan Wick: Mike Yurcich bears significant responsibility for Saturday’s disaster. His play-calling quite frankly didn’t make sense at times. For instance, who calls a passing play on 3rd-and-1 not once but three times? Why did he elect to throw the ball when the ground game heated up and vice versa?
The offense has struggled with slow starts all season in addition to some of these weirder play calls that haven’t worked. He fixed what had been working play-wise for Penn State, and it came back to haunt him. I’m not a fan of firing someone based on one game, but he definitely isn’t helping his case.
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About the Author
When paired with the Thespian Society by Penn State THON, the world changed for Theresa Illicete.
In their first overtime play of the season, the Lady Lions fell just short of a conference upset.
The Nittany Lions collected four pins and four other bonus point victories.