Penn State’s struggles in the running game continue during the Nittany Lions’ final non conference matchup with in-state FCS Villanova. The Lions were able to come away with a 38-17 victory at home. Penn State’s defense made several key plays. Ji’Ayir Brown intercepted a Daniel Smith pass on Villanova’s first possession of the second half.
Thus giving the Nittany Lions a turnover in 10 straight games, the second longest active streak in the FBS, and pushes the Lions’ turnover margin on the season to +7. Even after the fact, those in attendance felt there was still much more to improve upon. The area suspect to inconsistency is the Lions’ offensive line.
Penn State quickly used big plays in the passing game and on defense to build a commanding 31-3 lead after three quarters of play in Happy Valley. However, it was quite glaring how ineffective the running game was due in large part to an inexperienced and young line corp. When this happens you see a negative correlation on the running backs for the Lions’.
What was interesting was that at halftime, James Franklin mentioned that the running backs play better than the stats show. Running back John Lovett was noted as one of Penn State’s most impactful players on offense, however he finished the day with just 45 yards on 11 touches. This could’ve been a game where the run game slowly began to build momentum, but with a struggling offensive line today was not the day.