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Gameday Observations: Rutgers

Another gameday has come and gone, folks, and with it the end of Penn State’s season at Beaver Stadium. Penn State won its final home game of 2023 with a 27-6 takedown of Rutgers.

With Penn State’s win, and stout defense, one of the Big Ten’s greatest stats prevails: Rutgers has never scored a touchdown at Beaver Stadium since joining the conference.

Our staffers were on the scene to capture all the sights of the day. Let’s dive into what we saw on the last fall football Saturday of the year.

We’re Sorry, Student Section, You Rock

We’ve gotten flak in recent days about some tweets we sent out. You may have seen this one:

Or this one:

As the person who sent those tweets, I’d like to offer a clarification: I did not mean to talk down on the student section in the slightest. The first tweet that was sent was just about me being bummed that there wasn’t a strong student presence, as I would’ve been bummed for any game. The student section is what makes Penn State football so great, and Beaver Stadium isn’t the same without full attendance.

The second tweet, quite simply, was factual. You may have seen Big Game Boomer say that the entire stadium was half-empty, and that just wasn’t true. For a game against Rutgers ahead of Thanksgiving, Beaver Stadium showed out. It was an impressive display from a crowd that has put up incredible numbers all year long.

Another Senior Day Come & Gone, But Does It Matter?

Saturday was Penn State’s Senior Day, which serves as a celebration of the players who have dedicated their time to Penn State’s program and are on their way out the door. But are they really gone?

Sure, there are a few players from that bunch who are out of eligibility (fare thee well, Hunter Nourzad) and a few more will be going to the NFL Draft (we miss you already, Olu Fashanu). But plenty of those guys who were celebrated at Senior Day have eligibility left, and will likely use it.

Tight end Theo Johnson said he doesn’t know if he’ll head for the draft this offseason or stay around. The same goes for several other players. We don’t even know what eligibility punter Riley Thompson has left, and it seems like he doesn’t either. It’s all very weird.

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating players who have given so much to the program, but it’s still strange seeing guys receive their flowers three years in a row.

Penn State Covers, Again

After failing to cover in three of their last four games, the Nittany Lions got back on track against Rutgers. While it was certainly in doubt, a strong fourth quarter just edged the 19.5-point spread given to Penn State.

Want to know how to make a quick buck? It’s probably not a bad idea to pick James Franklin’s team to cover the spread. The Nittany Lions have done so in eight of their 11 games thus far in the season. There are still two games left to boost your bank account.

The Lion Cruises In Style

The Symbol Of Our Best was riding classy on Saturday, as the Nittany Lion pulled out a miniature Range Rover as one of his gimmicks. How he got his license, the world may never know. We’ve never seen an animal operate a motor vehicle so well.

Maybe the Lion would like to join Onward State for our next road trip?

Poster Boys Get Their Posters

One of the coolest moments that comes with the end of the season at Beaver Stadium is the chance for Penn State’s players to take the banners that Nittanyville made for them. You might have seen Abdul Carter waving his banner on the team’s “Win Cam” or Chop Robinson posting up after the game with the students who made his poster.

Personally, I’m just interested in what the players do with the posters after they take them. I’d like to imagine that Chop Robinson hangs his on the ceiling above his bed and stares at it as he falls asleep.

New Coordinators, Same Offense

Penn State fired offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich after last week’s game against Michigan and replaced him with tight ends coach Ty Howle and running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider on an interim basis. Still, even with the change in leadership, there wasn’t much change in play style.

The Nittany Lions had a slow start to the game, as they did so often earlier in the season under Yurcich, but the entrance of Beau Pribula helped bolster the offense. Eventually, the Nittany Lions put the game away in the fourth quarter, with or without the longest-serving offensive coordinator in James Franklin’s tenure.

Welcome Back, Mike Gesicki

Former Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki was in the building for Saturday’s game, as his New England Patriots had the week off from NFL action. He served as one of the game’s honorary captains and even showed up sporting a James Franklin hoodie. Gesicki’s drip was just one part of Penn State players standing up for their coach.

Franklin said postgame that he was spending his Saturday evening at home with his family and Gesicki, but the tight end was spotted at Champs that same night. What gives?

Au Revoir, Beaver Stadium

Saturday’s game was also the last game of the season at Beaver Stadium. It was an emotional moment for many Penn State students who had watched dozens of games in the student section. It’s an odd feeling to leave Beaver Stadium knowing that there won’t be a real football game on that grass for another nine months.

But fear not! Luke Combs is coming in just a few months’ time to welcome us back into the football stadium. Even before that, the Blue-White Game will give students and fans another chance to see their football team back in action.

Keep going 1-0 every week, folks, and we’ll be back in Beaver Stadium in no time.

LAND GRANT TROPHY LAND GRANT TROPHY LAND GRANT TROPHY

The best part about beating Rutgers isn’t actually beating Rutgers. It’s that Penn State now has just one more opponent standing between itself and the ultimate glory: a chance to defend the Land Grant Trophy.

If you’re unfamiliar with the trophy, just look at it. It’s a hunk of wood with random school-based objects slapped on it for the greatest piece of Big Ten football history imaginable.

Penn State can’t play for a Big Ten Championship trophy this year. It won’t make the College Football Playoff. But I’ll be dead and buried before I see the Nittany Lions not give their all to claim the Land Grant Trophy.

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a senior journalism major at Penn State and Onward State's managing editor. He writes about everything Penn State, especially its 10-2 football team. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. For dumb stuff, follow him on Twitter (iamjoelister). For serious stuff, email him ([email protected]).

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