Actual Score: 48-7 (PSU)
PSU-Wisconsin could be summed up in one sentence: total and unequivocal domination in every aspect of the game. No one and I mean no one saw a beatdown of this magnitude. Sure, many of us secretly fantasized about Penn State rolling into Camp Randall with a wide open offensive attack but most of us didn't believe it would happen. Past experiences have dictated a completely different scenario, but not only did Jay and Co. open things up, they also played flawlessly on defense and special teams to a tune of a 48-7 rout. I've kept my expectations grounded up until this week but the blue-colored kool-aid is beginning to look more and more enticing and I'm starting to believe.
Evan Royster was stymied by a run-blitzing Wisconsin defense and he only managed 60 yards on 14 carries. Wisconsin dared Penn State to throw the ball and they obliged which brings us to quarterback Daryll Clark who had another spectacular day completing 16 of his 25 passes for 244 yards. He threw for a TD and ran two more in and his option pitch to Royster on the goal line was a thing of beauty. Clark will never get mentioned in the Heisman race because he doesn't have the gaudy numbers some of the quarterbacks in the Big 12 are pumping out but I'd take him over any quarterback in the country, and I mean that. Clark is an amazing combination of size, speed and poise. He makes smart decisions and he can single handedly carry this team if need be.
The offensive line had a tough time run blocking but they kept Clark clean and when there was a breakdown Daryll used his elusiveness to buy time and wait for an open receiver. The receivers did a fantastic job of getting open and adjusting when Clark scrambled. No one receiver stood out but eight different guys caught a pass. The only knock I have is on Williams drop early in the first that would have set up a touchdown but we'll forgive that if he's going to return punts for touchdowns.
When you first glance at the stats it looks like this should have been a pretty close game. Wisconsin was close to Penn State statistically with 313 yards of total offense compared to PSU's 377. But this is one of those games that the statistics lie as Penn State did more with their yards and turned Wisconsin's mistakes into points. The defense created 4 turnovers (2 fumbles and 2 int's) and the offense held onto the ball.
Navarro Bowman and Anthony Scirrotto led the defense with 8 tackles each and Lydell Sargeant had two interceptions, but the guy that stood out was defensive end Aaron Maybin. We all had to hear over and over again about how big the Wisconsin line was but Maybin's speed was just too much for the bigger guys to handle.
Dude doesn't even need a helmet to make a tackle
Aaron had six tackles, 3.5 for loss, one sack, a pass breakup and two forced fumbles. Needless to say, he's damn good. Bowman continues to improve game by game and is quickly becoming Penn State's next great linebacker at Linebacker U. At this point we've watched Penn State take on a very good passing team in Purdue and a very good running team in Wisconsin and they shut both down. There are no real questions left to be asked about this defense they are damn good.
If teams don't start taking Derrick Williams seriously he's going to continue torching opposing special teams. His punt return in the second quarter made the score 17-0 and put Wisconsin in catch up mode which they really can't do. It was the perfect scenario for Penn State fans who were clamoring for the Nittany Lions to get a two touchdown lead and make Wisconsin play our game.
Like I suspected Jeremy Boone bounced back from a less than stellar performance against Purdue to average almost 45 yards per punt and placed 3 inside the 20. Don't look now but Kevin Kelley is quietly having an All-Big Ten year. His 50 yard field goal to open the scoring salvaged a drive and he made good on his other attempt, a 30-yarder late in the 3rd quarter. But more importantly, his kickoffs were point on, while he may not have the leg to get a touchback every time his directional kicks were pinning Wisconsin on either side of the field which is what you want from your kicker. It makes returning a whole lot harder and Penn State's coverage teams did their part.
You can't help but feel giddy about a win like this. Penn State when into a Big Ten road game with lots of questions swirling around how good this team really is and they answered every one with an exclamation point. At the beginning of the season I used past year's tendencies to draw conclusions about this team and it's apparent that was a big mistake. This team is its own team and the past means nothing. I'm actually starting to believe they may make Michigan pay for 9 years of frustration this week. Dare I dream?