A week removed from being bullied at The Big House, Penn State took it to the Badgers.
The No. 20 Nittany Lions beat Wisconsin at its own game, dominating the line of scrimmage in a 22-10 win on Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium.
Miles Sanders went off for 159 rushing yards, eclipsing 1,000 for the season. Trace McSorley — who briefly exited with an apparent right leg injury — returned and finished with 160 passing yards while completing 19 of 25 attempts. In the passing game, it was a group effort; KJ Hamler, DeAndre Thompkins, Pat Freiermuth and Jahan Dotson all had multiple catches and more than 30 yards.
The Nittany Lion defense stood tall, too. Wisconsin star running back Jonathan Taylor ripped off a 71-yard touchdown run on the Badgers’ opening drive — but after that, the Nittany Lions clamped down. Shareef Miller and Yetur Gross-Matos owned the edge, while Micah Parsons led the team in tackles with 7 total tackles.
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Player of the game
Miles Sanders: Seven days ago, Sanders had no chance to get going. On Saturday, he was the featured piece of Penn State’s offense.
Sanders — who was held to 14 yards on seven carries at Michigan — ran rampant against the Badgers, tallying five runs of 11 yards or more in the first three quarters alone. The junior channeled his inner Saquon Barkley, leaping over Wisconsin defenders in the first and second halves, and ripped through arm tackles on runs of 17, 23 and 29 yards.
Sanders displayed his powerful north-south approach — one that ought to be utilized more consistently.
Stat that mattered
7.7 yards: That’s what Penn State averaged on first down on its first three series.
James Franklin talked at length at his weekly press conference about how the Nittany Lion offense has failed to establish a rhythm, starting with the early downs, in recent weeks. Well, Penn State got in a groove early.
On the Nittany Lions’ opening three drives, Penn State had 10 first-down opportunities and tallied 77 yards. That included a 14-yard touchdown pass from McSorley to Thompkins.
Shareef Miller: The defensive line created havoc in the Badger backfield; Gross-Matos had himself a day, and Robert Windsor, a Wisconsin native, recorded a sack. But it was Miller who led the charge.
The redshirt junior — the voice and heartbeat of Penn State’s defense — had a pair of third-down sacks. On the first one, he beat right tackle David Edwards off the line and swallowed Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan. The second sack? He fought through a double-team to bring down Coan.
Miller, an eventual NFL draft prospect, showed why against Wisconsin’s vaunted offensive line.
Rutgers: It’s that time of year again, when the Nittany Lions and Scarlet Knights likely engage in an ugly, one-sided affair. Penn State has won every meeting since Rutgers began Big Ten play in 2014.
Rutgers entered Saturday’s game against No. 4 Michigan as 38-point underdogs with a 1-8 record. Expect the Nittany Lions to be three- or four-touchdown favorites next weekend.
Kick time in Piscataway has not been announced.