Pitt came up with a big performance in the rivalry game win over Penn State. What are the 5 Things That Matter?
Pitt 42, Penn State 39
How a rivalry game works
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Pitt vs. Penn State is a rivalry game that hasn’t been played since 2000 and only has a deal to play once in a while now, but a game like this is how this matters again. Just being called a rivalry doesn’t make it special, but a game like this does with both teams letting it fly in a phenomenal battle finished off by a …
Really, really, really bad throw
Trace McSorley was brilliant. He completed 24-of-35 passes for 332 yards and a score, and he did a great job of leading the team back from the dead to within a heartbeat of pulling off an epic and program-changing comeback. Instead, when all his team needed was a field goal, he took an ill-advised shot for the win, there wasn’t anyone available, and Ryan Lewis picked it off to seal the win for the Panthers. McSorley will get blamed, but that’s on the coaches who should’ve hammered it into his head to never, ever, ever throw that pass if it wasn’t there. It wasn’t there.
Hello, Pitt running game
Now we know – Pitt didn’t exactly turn it loose in the opener against Villanova. This was a night-and-day better running game against a good Nittany Lion defense, pounding away for an unstoppable 341 yards and three scores averaging over six yards per carry. James Conner ran for 117 yards and a score, but everyone seemed to have fun. The Penn State D might need some retooling and time to get back to its 2015 form, but the Pitt O line had a lot to do with it.
Silver lining time …
The Penn State offense worked. Saquon Barkley was phenomenal with a tough 85-yard, four touchdown rushing day, McSorley, again, was great until the end, and the offense that was such a pain to watch last year showed some pop. The D will come around, but going forward, now the Nittany Lions know they can move the ball.
What Does This All REALLY Mean?
Alright, Pitt. It’s on. The team might have struggled in the fourth quarter, but it hung on and got the job done in what should be a statement moment. Now the Panthers get another one going on the road to face a jilted Oklahoma State team that lost at home to Central Michigan in gut-wrenching fashion, but if the running game gets working again like it did against Penn State, there’s no problem.
For Penn State, this begins a bad week. Not only is it a rough rivalry loss, but now it’ll have to deal with the scrutiny and criticism of the Joe Paterno honoring ceremony before dealing with a ramped up Temple team looking to make amends for a tough start.