Penn State vs. Michigan State: The Low Five

A review of the many lows and a few highs from Penn State's 55-16 dismantling at the hands of Michigan State.

In a word, Penn State's final game of the 2015 regular season was a disaster. Few reasonably expected the Nittany Lions to come away from East Lansing with a win considering their recent performances and the fact that the Spartans had a Big Ten title game berth and potential playoff spot on the line. However, Penn State's ineptness in every facet of the game made this one painful to watch.


Deja Vu: The lowest of lows for Penn State is in the fact that this team continues to be plagued by the same issues and showed next to no improvement in the deficiencies, whether on offense, defense or special teams. Despite the problems with depth and youth, a lot of these issues stem from the coaches and, more specifically, James Franklin, who needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror to determine where he wants this team to go in the future.

Playing Around: The offensive play-calling has consistently been a deficiency for this team and at no time this season may it have been more glaring than in this game. Forcing Saquon Barkley up the middle against a staunch defensive front with a brittle offensive line simply doesn't cut it, particularly in the red zone. I've said it before, but Franklin has to make some decisions that he may find personally difficult but ultimately serve the good of the program in the future.

Turn, Turn, Turn: With two interceptions and two lost fumbles there was no reasonable way Penn State was going to compete in this game in the long run. I have praised Christian Hackenberg for protecting the ball for the most part this season, but that didn't hold true in this game. MSU had 27 points off of turnovers.

Time Out: Ironically, you can almost set your watch to the dysfunction of Penn State's clock mismanagement. Delays of game and blown timouts are commonplace with this team and that lies squarely at the feet of this coaching staff. It's disheartening to see this level of dysfunction 12 games into the season.

Take Your Pick: From fundamental tackling issues to special team blunders to third-down problems to redzone woes, the issues around the team are plentiful and painful. We'll see how the team manages to address them heading into bowl prep, but the staff has to start looking ahead to next season to start figuring out how to address them.


Good Hands: Wideout Chris Godwin came up big in this game for PSU with 11 catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns. He was one of the few bright spots for the Nittany Lions in this contest.

All Bark: Barkley had another impressive outing despite a lackluster offensive line effort and some inept play-calling. On the day, Barkley led all ball carriers with 103 yards on 17 carries.

Over Easy: Given the tailspin we've seen from the Nittany Lions through the latter portion of the season, it's a plus to see it end at this point. It'll be interesting to see how the team preps for its bowl matchup, but to say the squad has work to do it an understatement.

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