What happened and what mattered in the Michigan State 21-17 win over Penn State?
Michigan State 21, Penn State 17
That’s Michigan State being Michigan State. Underwhelming all season long, the team that barely showed up against a mediocre Northwestern team rose up and rocked a Penn State squad that still had a whole slew of big things on the table. The run defense was just good enough, the offense hung around, and then, when the chance was there to pull it off with one big final drive … boom.
But, Michigan State, when you have a shot to tie the game up with just over five minutes to play, you kick the field goal.
Where was the Penn State secondary late? Brian Lewerke took target practice to march down the field in the final minute. Held in check for most of the game, the passing game rolled in the clutch, with Lewerke throwing for 259 yards and two touchdowns with a pick. The hero? Felton Davis with eight catches for 100 yards and two scores.
Penn State couldn’t break free. Trace McSorley was fine, but the offense couldn’t connect on third downs and couldn’t control the clock. Even without LJ Scott and no ground game, MSU had the ball for over 34 minutes and ended up outgunning the Nittany Lions 418 yards to 397. In the second half, McSorley couldn’t lead the way to touchdown drives – Penn State finished with just a second half field goal.
Just when it seemed like it might be a bit of a struggle to get to a bowl game, MSU just all but locked one up. Now it gets Michigan and Purdue at home, and with Maryland, Nebraska and Rutgers still on the slate, a 13th game is a breeze. The College Football Playoff hope ended last week, but beat the Wolverines and Ohio State in East Lansing, and the Big Ten East … just don’t blow the five-foot putts.
Devastating. Totally devastating. With Georgia losing to LSU, the door to finish 11-1 – at worst – and be in the College Football Playoff chase was still there for the Nittany Lions. That’s gone, the Big Ten title shot is realistically done, and now, it’s going to take something major to get to a New Year’s Six game or the Rose Bowl.