Penn State managed to run inside, outside and over Rutgers as it welcomed the Scarlet Knights back to Beaver Stadium for the first time in more than 20 years. It was not a happy visit for the RU squad as it was manhandled in front of a primetime "Stripe Out.'" Here's a look at the highs and lows from the blowout.
THE HIGH FIVE
BLUE WHITE STRIPES: There was certainly skepticism around the "Stripe Out" concept among Nittany Nation fans, but the look was impressive. Penn State put on display once again why it has the best fanbase in the nation, bringing noise that was crushing to the Scarlet Knights at times.
SPECIAL PERFORMANCE: How about the Nittany Lions' special teams performance tonight, led by punter Chris Gulla? He got tremendous lift on his boots, pinned the Knights deep reguarly and helped negate Rutgers' explosive returnman Janarion Grant thanks to some great coverage.
RUNNING HOT: The Nittany Lions' run game, led by Saquon Barkley and Akeel Lynch, was instrumental in Penn State pouncing out to a big lead. Between the two they rolled up 315 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries. But how impressive is Barkley when it comes to evading tacklers and creating opportunities?
D-OMINATE: There were some lows (see below) in spots across the unit (OK, maye we're being picky). But on the whole, the defensive group wreaked havoc, creating key turnovers with demoralizing results for Rutgers, particularly with a spirited front seven led but Austin Johnson, Carl Nassib and Brandon Bell.
POWER LINE: The PSU O-line has had highs and lows this season, but none higher than this game where it blocked for 472 total yards, 330 of which were on the ground. More importantly, the linemen protected Christian Hackenberg and kept the red out of the backfield, surrendering zero sacks for the second consecutive game.
WOOF WOOF: The big dog Barkley deserves a second shoutout for his performance and the amazing runs he had all night. Just when you think he's bottled up he cuts, he slashes, he wiggles, he spins into a big pickup. This guy looks special. And how much does it sting for RU that he was originally committed to the Knights?
TAKE THE W: It's a win on a big primetime stage, which should help boost confidence and give another highlight reel to show recruits to further the talent gap between Penn State and Rutgers (and likely quiet down the opposing fans who feel there's legitmate comparison between the two programs).
THE LOW FIVE
SLOPPY JOES: Penn State tripped up itself too often with handful of key penalties. Seven for 65 yards in fact, including false starts, a personal foul and sideline infraction. The coaches have to nail down the discipline to eliminate these costly screwups. The weather was ugly again at times, but so were the miscues.
HACKED UP: Imagine how impressive the offense would have been if Christian Hackenberg was remotely consistent. Overthrows, underthrows — he simply continues to be off target, despite the offensive line giving him loads of time. His numbers of 10 for 19 for 141 yards and an interception weren't necessarily bad, but he seems good for an interception almost every game. Considering the patchjob of Rutger's secondary, he could have easily had a monster night if he could have found even a bit of consistency.
BROKEN RECEPTION: With all the receiving weapons the Lions have, Hackenberg only delivered the ball to three targets. Compare that to RU's Chris Laviano, who hit nine different receivers. The passing game has to spread the ball around and get more talent involved.
PLAYBOOK IT: There were times in the first half where the playcalling was versatile, dynamic and — dare I say — entertaining. But the staff seems to go to the well too often on certain looks, like the jet sweep and slants that we're too transparent. On the other hand, going for it on fourth and one was odd with a three touchdown lead. The offensive staff has to use the weapons that are emerging and find its identity as a unit.
PRESSURE GAME: Granted, Laviano was running for his life much of the night, but it was shocking the PSU defensive could not get a sack until late in the fourth quater. In its … uh … defense, once the D started getting to him they swarmed. I was just surprised it took so long. And how about that missed safety, too? How in the...?
PILLOW SOFT: Despite being cobbled together, the Rutgers secondary played tighter than Penn State's defensive backs. This created gaps and opporunities for Laviano and the nine receivers he hit for 251 yards — although the DBs did manage two interceptions.
MISSED OPPORTUNITES: The defense gave the offense more than a few short fields. The offense has to capitalize on the opportunities the defense consistently creates.