Game 538: Nittany Lions feast on Pitt Panthers, 33-14

Game 538: Nittany Lions feast on Pitt Panthers, 33-14

State College, PA – In workman-like fashion, the No. 5 Penn State Nittany Lions (2-0) dominated traditional rival Pittsburgh (1-1) early on offense and throughout on defense to win Game 538 since 1979. This game became the 98th in the series which has been interrupted by more recent conference scheduling conflicts.  PSU lost one of its two regular season games last year in a defeat at Pittsburgh, 43-18.  The Lions looked to extract some revenge to start the 2017 season on a better foot with a win over its intrastate rival first played in 1893.

The Lions and Panthers tussled for the 98th time in’s Game 538 with the Lions coming out on top, 33-14.

Penn State performed with efficiency, not flashiness in this game. Despite the Panthers outgaining the Lions 342 to 312 in total offense, the Lions ran 52 offensive plays compared to the Panther’s 86.  Three turnovers halted Pitt drives. One resulted in an immediate touchdown. A safety netted five more points as the next possession yielded a FG drive.

Fast Start

PSU DB Grant Haley intercepted USC transfer Max Browne’s pass on the team’s first defensive series returning to the Pitt eight. Trace McSorely (15 for 18, 164 yards, # TDs, 1 Int) connected TE Mike Gesicki right away for 7-0 lead.  Before the first period expired, McSorely connected again with Gesicki for a 10-yard TD pass to lead, 14-0.  Late in Q2, Pitt put together a 15-play drive finished off by an Alex Kressman 28-yard FG to make the score 14-3 at halftime.

TE Mike Gesicki remains “virtually untouched” crossing the goal line for the second time in the first quarter.

Great weather prevailed in Central Pennsylvania while fans down in Florida faced devastation from Hurricane Irma (like those recovering in Texas, out thoughts and prayers are with them).  The renewed rivalry for which we hope the two schools will find a way to continue playing annually brought 109,898 to Beaver Stadium in Happy Valley.   Pulled pork prepared by Ty turned out to be the highlight of our pre-game tailgate feast accompanied by some of our favorite pregame concoctions and snacks.  The Lions continued to methodically feast on Panthers in the second half of our Game 538.

My Chambersburg friends, Aaron, John, Ty, Kyle, and Dewey had their game faces on and drinks in their hands at our pre-game tailgate.

DeAndre Tompkins returned a Pitt punt 14 yards to the Pitt 46.  McSorely tossed a pass to RB Saquon Barkley over the middle who swerved, dodged, and broke tackles into the end zone for a 21-3 Nittany Lion lead.  Pitt responded with a 24-yard FG by Kressman.  The Lions’ defense kept the Panthers from any quick, long gains.

In the final period, the Lions drove 78 yards with Barkley (14 carries, 88 yards, 1 TD) a legitimate Heisman candidate, putting up six more for the Nittanies with a two-yard TD run.  Pitt second team QB Ben DiNucci finished a scoring drive on the visitor’s next possession with a three-yard run and connected with Qaddree Ollison for two points to cut the score in half, 28-14.  The score was not indicative of the Lion dominance.  Penn State P Blake Gillikin’s punt put Pitt back on its four. Two plays later, S Marcus Allen downed WR Darrin Hall in the end zone after a catch for a safety.  PSU’s ensuing possession resulted in a Tyler Davis 24-yard FG.

PSU S Marcus Allen tackles Darrin Hall of Pitt for a safety in the final period that netted in five more points for the Lions.

High expectations for the Nittany Lions

Final score of 33-14 stirred happiness in Happy Valley, but many PSU faithful found the win to be somewhat unimpressive.  Many hold high expectations for the Nittany Lions this year.  Many expect more every week out to their Lions.  Some big challenges still lie ahead.  The Lions seem to be building up for them, looking to peak at the right time. We will be back on Oct. 21 for Michigan. The kick-off time for that contest has not been announced yet.

Lion DE Torrence Brown (19) puts the clamps on Pitt WR Quadree Henderson in first quarter.

Next Saturday Panthers of another species prowl into the Happy Valley.  Georgia State (0-1) comes to play the Lions for the first time.  James Franklin ran some satellite camps with them down in Atlanta to penetrate SEC recruiting territory.  He returns the favor with a big pay-out to host GSU.  Pitt hosts No. 9 Oklahoma State (2-0) at Heinz Field.  After Game 538, pulls a double-header weekend.  On Friday night, we stop in Philly to see UMASS (0-3) with TE Adam Breneman take on Temple at “the Linc”.  The Owls (1-1) just got by FCS Villanova last Saturday, 16-13.  They seem to still be in a transition mode with new HC Geoff Collins taking over for departed Matt Rhule who went to Baylor.  My concerns for his departure are coming to light, but it’s still early for both Rhule and for Temple.  The next morning, we fly to Minneapolis to see the Golden Gophers (2-0) under new HC P.J. Fleck formerly of Western Michigan play Middle Tennessee State (1-1) of the Sun Belt.  For, it will be only the second time we will see MTSU play.  Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium will be the 52nd of the FBS home venues we will attend a game at.

The denizens of the Happy Valley enjoyed a beautiful day at Beaver Stadium on Saturday.

About Steveo

This website is dedicated to my unique and ongoing adventure to continue to see every major Division 1A (I despise the moniker "FBS") football team play in person at least once. I've seen all 124 teams in existence as of 2013 play and plan to attend games with the five newest editions in the next few years. This also records my ongoing adventures attending as many college football games as possible every season. I "officially" started this crazy goal in 1979. The upcoming 2014 season will be the 35th straight year of sharing this fun endeavor with others in person and through weekly reviews about each game I attend. Entering 2014, I have attended 459 NCAA football games at all levels. My book, Tales from the Tailgate: From the Fan who's seen 'em all! published in 2011, tells my story over 30 years of when I attended a game in person played by each D1A team for the first time. Now, I haven't attended a game at every major stadium on each campus (yet) because I'd probably be unemployed and definitely divorced by now. However, I'm proud to report that I remain gainfully employed and have been married to the same woman ("Saint Laurie") for almost 25 years. We have two kids that have recently ventured away from our home in Byram Township, NJ over the last few few years. Our daughter Alex is a junior at the University of South Carolina (Go Gamecocks!), and our son Eric is now enlisted in the United States Navy (Go Navy!). You will find that my site and my book focus on enjoying a passion for college football and great opportunities to have fun with friends and family around the country.

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