Penn State cruised to a 33-14 win against Central Michigan at home on Saturday.
The Nittany Lions’ backfield combined for 32 rushes for 166 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and popped off 5.2 yards per carry. Penn State’s defense also caused four turnovers by the Chippewas to win the turnover battle 4-0.
Here are five takeways from Penn State’s victory over Central Michigan.
1-2 punch of Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen spells success
The Nittany Lions haven’t had a freshman rushing attack like their current one with Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen in awhile. Singleton has already proven that he can be the main attraction in Penn State’s backfield. While he was bottled up for much of the game, he still came away with 12 carries for 42 yards and had a long run of 21 yards.
Allen had his best day on the ground against the Chippewas with 13 rushing attempts for 111 yards and a touchdown to aid Singleton. The two freshmen split the carries and got into a healthy rhythm, picking each other up when one was down. In a position that takes as much of a beating as a running back does, it’s good to have multiple players who pose a threat to defenses in the backfield.
Danger of playing down to competition
Some fans will just read the box score of a 33-14 victory and say, “Penn State did what it needed to do to win.” But the Nittany Lions found themselves in a tie ballgame (14-14) deep into the second quarter. While the offense scored three more times, there were many more points that were left on the board.
The defense consistently allowed the Chippewas to drive down the field with ease. It let tight end Joel Wilson carve them up for five catches for 59 yards and a touchdown, along with wide receiver Carlos Carriere to pick up 11 receptions for 111 yards on short passes. While those numbers weren’t good enough for Central Michigan to win, the numbers will allow another team to pull within striking distance of the Nittany Lions.
Dani Dennis-Sutton is the perfect fit for Manny Diaz’s defense
Penn State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz got creative with using freshman edge rusher Dani Dennis-Sutton. At times, the 6-foot-5 defensive end dropped back in coverage and nearly broke up a pass to a receiver and then put pressure on the quarterback. He generated two sacks on Central Michigan’s final drive with his hand in the dirt and rushed as a standup backer as well. If Diaz can continue to find ways to get Dennis-Sutton on the field, Penn State will be all the more dangerous for it.
Joel Wilson is going to be playing on Sundays
The junior tight end from Central Michigan made acrobatic catch after acrobatic catch on Saturday. Through double coverage, getting jammed up at the line and fighting past Penn State defenders, Wilson showed that he can play at a level that will net him a payday either next year or the one after. Coming into college, he was a 6-foot-4, 205-pound quarterback converted to tight end and has since bulked up to 250. 247Sports had him as a 0-star prospect and he didn’t play like one on Saturday.
Sean Clifford bounces back from rocky start
Sean Clifford began Saturday’s contest by going 8-for-8 for 103 yards and added two touchdown passes. Following his strong start to the game, Central Michigan’s pressure began to get home to the redshirt senior quarterback. He went on to complete the first half by going 7-for-17 for 50 yards.
Luckily for Clifford, his special teams bailed the offense out with great field position early in the third quarter. Curtis Jacobs recovered a muffed punt by the Chippewas on the latter’s own 7-yard line. Two plays later, Clifford hit tight end Brenton Strange on a play action pass to the right for a 4-yard touchdown to push Penn State’s lead to 27-14 at the 11:55 mark in the third quarter. He finished the game going 22-for-34 on passes for 217 yards and three passing touchdowns and added five carries for 23 yards and a touchdown on the ground.