Dec 30, 2023; Atlanta, GA, USA; Mississippi Rebels running back Quinshon Judkins (4) is tackled by Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Abdul Carter (11) in the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

No. 11 Ole Miss takes down No. 10 Penn State in Peach Bowl

Jaxson Dart threw three touchdown passes and ran for a touchdown as No. 11 Ole Miss defeated No. 10 Penn State 38-25 in the Peach Bowl on Saturday afternoon at Atlanta.

Dart completed 25 of 40 passes for 379 yards and had two touchdown throws to Caden Prieskorn, who finished with 10 catches for 136 yards. Dart also connected on a TD pass to Quinshon Judkins, who rushed for 106 yards.

Tre Harris finished with seven catches and 134 yards for the Rebels (11-2), as Ole Miss recorded 11 wins for the first time in program history. The Rebels also had the second 10-win season in school history.

Ole Miss, which entered 15th in the country in total offense (455.4 yards per game), was even more productive, finishing with 540 yards against Penn State, which led the country in total defense (223.2).

Drew Allar passed for 295 yards and two touchdowns and Tyler Warren had five catches for 127 yards for the Nittany Lions (10-3), who had 510 yards.

The Rebels’ first possession of the second half ended with a 52-yard field goal by Caden Davis that extended the lead to 23-17.

Dart threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Judkins and a two-point conversion pass to Prieskorn that produced a 31-17 lead at the end of the third quarter. Dart also ran 2 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown and a 38-17 lead.

Allar’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Harrison Wallace III and a two-point conversion pass completed the scoring with 4:14 remaining.

On its first possession PSU drove to a 26-yard field goal by Alex Felkins and Davis followed with a 36-yarder to tie the score.

Dart threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Prieskorn to give the Rebels a 10-3 lead at the end of the first quarter. Allar threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Theo Johnson to tie the score at 10.

Davis kicked a 45-yard field goal and Dart and Prieskorn teamed on a 37-yard touchdown pass that gave Ole Miss a 20-10 lead.

Beau Pribula threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Nicholas Singleton to pull the Nittany Lions within 20-17 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Kaytron Allen (13) carries the ball as Rutgers Scarlet Knights defensive back Robert Longerbeam (7) pursues during the first half at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 Penn State keeps Rutgers out of end zone in 27-6 win

Kaytron Allen rushed for two touchdowns and Demeioun Robinson made a big defensive play to lead No. 12 Penn State to a 27-6 victory over Rutgers on Saturday in Big Ten play at University Park, Pa.

Nittany Lions quarterback Drew Allar left early in the third quarter with an unspecified injury. Beau Pribula replaced him and rushed for 71 yards on eight carries and also scored a touchdown. He completed his lone pass for nine yards.

Alex Felkins kicked two field goals and Kevin Winston had an interception for Penn State (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten), which defeated Rutgers for the 17th consecutive time. The Nittany Lions are 32-2 all-time against the Scarlet Knights.

Jai Patel kicked two field goals for Rutgers (6-5, 3-5), which lost its third straight contest. Gavin Wimsatt completed 10 of 16 passes for 130 yards and one interception.

Penn State dismissed offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich after last weekend’s 24-15 loss to Michigan, but the attack was again sluggish against the Scarlet Knights. The Nittany Lions totaled 322 yards, with 234 coming on the ground.

Allar was injured on a keeper during Penn State’s first series of the third quarter. He didn’t return and finished 6-of-13 passing for 79 yards.

Pribula replaced Allar and later in the drive, he was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 from the Rutgers’ 4-yard line.

On Penn State’s next drive, Felkins kicked a 48-yard field goal to make it 13-6 with 5:32 left in the third quarter.

Later in the quarter, Robinson sacked Wimsatt and forced a fumble. Robinson recovered it at the Rutgers’ 42 with 1:18 left in the period.

Five plays later, Allen scored from 3 to give Penn State a 20-6 advantage 46 seconds into the final stanza.

Pribula later fumbled a snap at the Rutgers’ 1-yard line and picked it up and crossed the goal line to make it a 21-point margin with 3:36 remaining in the game.

Penn State led 10-6 at halftime.

After Patel kicked a 35-yard field goal in the first quarter for Rutgers, Allen scored on a 2-yard run with 11:36 left in the first half, and Felkins added a 21-yard field goal nearly three minutes later. Patel hit from 28 yards out as the first half ended.

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Semaj Morgan (82) runs the ball against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the second quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

No. 3 Michigan avoids distraction, slips past No. 10 Penn State

Blake Corum rushed for 145 yards, scored two touchdowns and helped No. 3 Michigan overcome the absence of head coach Jim Harbaugh to defeat No. 10 Penn State 24-15 on Saturday at University Park, Pa.

Harbaugh was suspended by the Big Ten on Friday for the remainder of the regular season amid an in-person scouting scandal. Michigan filed for a temporary restraining order but the hearing was delayed until Friday. Assistant Sherrone Moore filled in for Harbaugh.

Donovan Edwards rushed for 52 yards and a touchdown for Michigan (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten), while J.J. McCarthy had only eight passing attempts, all in the first half, and completed seven for 60 yards.

Drew Allar completed 10 of 22 passes for 70 yards and a touchdown for the Nittany Lions (8-2, 5-2). He also rushed for 49 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. Kaytron Allen had 72 yards rushing for the Nittany Lions.

Michigan held a 14-9 lead at halftime.

Alex Felkins’ 20-yard field goal late in the first quarter gave Penn State a 3-0 lead.

The Wolverines answered with a 75-yard drive, capped by Corum’s 3-yard rush. Edwards had a 22-yard run during the drive.

With 6:07 left in the half, Edwards cut to his right on third down and scored from 22 yards out to make give Michigan a 14-3 lead. Corum had a 44-yard run during the possession.

Penn State drove 75 yards late in the half and converted a pair of fourth downs before Allar scored on an 11-yard run up the middle. Allar then threw an incompletion on a two-point try as the Nittany Lions pulled within 14-9.

James Turner kicked a 22-yard field goal to cap Michigan’s first drive of the second half, giving the Wolverines a 17-9 advantage. That came after an Allar fumble.

The Nittany Lions gambled on fourth-and-6 from their own 30 late in the game and it failed on an Allar incompletion. Corum scored on the next play to give the Wolverins a 24-9 lead with 4:15 remaining.

Penn State scored with 1:59 left on Allar’s 8-yard pass to Theo Johnson.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Northwestern Wildcats defensive lineman Sean McLaughlin (97) chases Maryland Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa (3) during the second half at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

No. 11 Penn State looks to make statement vs. slumping Maryland

No. 11 Penn State didn’t deliver the resounding bounce-back performance some might have expected last Saturday in its home win against Indiana.

Meanwhile, Maryland continued its midseason tailspin last week with a dreadful loss at Northwestern, the Terrapins’ third straight defeat after their 5-0 start.

Both Big Ten squads will aim to begin the final month on a stronger note when Penn State (7-1, 4-1) visits Maryland (5-3, 2-3) on Saturday in College Park, Md.

After suffering their first loss of the season, a 20-12 setback against then-No. 3 Ohio State on Oct. 21 in Columbus, the Nittany Lions struggled to pull away from the visiting Hoosiers despite being a 31-point favorite.

Penn State blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter that left that score tied at 24 before quarterback Drew Allar connected with KeAndre Lambert-Smith for a 57-yard touchdown strike with under two minutes remaining.

Coach James Franklin’s squad sealed its 33-24 win on the ensuing possession when defensive end Dani Dennis-Sutton stormed around the edge and strip-sacked Indiana quarterback Brendan Sorsby, whose fumble rolled out of the Hoosiers’ end zone for a safety.

“We made plays when it mattered most,” Franklin said. “Our guys were resilient.”

Penn State’s defense will be tested against one of the Big Ten’s most prolific passers in the Terrapins’ Taulia Tagovailoa, who leads the conference in passing yards (2,200), passing touchdowns (19), passing yards per game (275) and completions per game (23.6).

Franklin said containing Maryland’s air attack will be challenging, but he wasn’t concerned about the two long touchdown passes his defense surrendered in the first half against the Hoosiers.

“When you play man coverage as much as we do, they’re gonna get you from time to time,” Franklin said. “There’s enough body of work of who we’ve been as a defense to feel very comfortable and very confident.”

Tagovailoa and the Terrapins handled the Hoosiers more easily than the Nittany Lions did, cruising to a 44-17 win on Sept. 30 in College Park. It was Maryland’s fifth straight victory to begin the season, but the Terrapins haven’t won since.

Maryland seemed to be in a favorable position to end its two-game skid last week against Northwestern — the Terrapins trotted onto Ryan Field after their bye week as a two-touchdown favorite.

But Maryland never led after the first quarter and fell behind by 13 points with just over five minutes left in the game. Tagovailoa led a late scoring drive to pull the Terrapins within 33-27, but his interception on Maryland’s next possession sealed the team’s winless October.

The redshirt senior played last Saturday without co-offensive coordinator Kevin Sumlin, who remains away from the team after he was arrested on Oct. 22 on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Tagovailoa also lost a receiver after Tyrese Chambers recently departed the program for what coach Michael Locksley cited as personal reasons. Chambers, who was expected to play a significant role in the Terrapins’ offense upon transferring from Florida International, recorded just seven receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown in five games this season.

“We’ll support Tyrese as he continues to move forward,” Locksley said.

Chambers’ sudden departure capped Maryland’s tumultuous October, a month during which the Terrapins’ preseason goal of reaching the program’s first Big Ten championship game all but evaporated.

“We talked about being a team that competes for championships,” Locksley said. “Obviously, we’re just not there.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin walks on the field during warmups before the game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

No. 10 Penn State holds off upset-minded Indiana

Drew Allar connected with KeAndre Lambert-Smith for a go-ahead, 57-yard touchdown with 1:46 remaining to lift No. 10 Penn State to a 33-24 victory over Indiana on Saturday afternoon in State College, Pa.

The Nittany Lions (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten) saw a 10-point lead evaporate in the fourth quarter when the Hoosiers’ Brendan Sorsby threw a 26-yard scoring strike to Omar Cooper Jr. and Chris Freeman made a 35-yard field goal to tie the game 24-24 with 2:58 remaining.

But Allar saved the day, and Penn State’s Dani Dennis-Sutton then strip-sacked Sorsby at his own 25 and watched as the ball bounce all the way out of the back of the end zone for a safety that sealed the victory.

Allar completed 20 of 31 passes for 210 yards, three TDs and his first collegiate interception for the Nittany Lions, who avoided losing back-to-back regular-season games for the first time since Oct. 23, 2021.

Lambert-Smith finished with six catches for 96 yards and the decisive score, while Kaytron Allen led the rushing attack with 81 yards on 18 carries.

Sorsby threw for 269 yards, three touchdowns and a pick on 13-for-19 passing for Indiana (2-6, 0-5), which lost its fourth straight game.

DeQuece Carter had three receptions for 104 yards and a TD for the Hoosiers.

Momentum shifted in the Nittany Lions’ favor late in the second half when Nicholas Singleton ran to the end zone from 2 yards out to tie the score 14-14 with 2:15 remaining until halftime.

Jaylen Reed then picked off Sorsby and, seven plays later, Alex Felkins drilled a 50-yard field goal to allow Penn State to take a 17-14 edge into the break.

The Nittany Lions opened a 10-point lead at 24-14 thanks to Allar’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Theo Johnson with 8:39 left in the third quarter.

After the first four drives of the game ended with punts, Sorsby opened the scoring emphatically, connecting with Carter for a 90-yard touchdown.

Penn State went three-and-out on its ensuing drive but recovered a muffed punt, turning that takeaway into Allar’s 9-yard scoring strike to Khalil Dinkins that knotted things at 7-7.

But the Nittany Lions’ secondary broke down again shortly after, as Sorsby found Donaven McCulley for a 69-yard TD with 13:26 left in the second quarter to reestablish a seven-point edge.

–Field Level Media

Penn State's Adisa Isaac celebrates after recovering a fumble during a White Out football game against Iowa Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in State College, Pa. The Nittany Lions shut out the Hawkeyes, 31-0.

Elite defenses clash as No. 7 Penn State visits No. 3 Ohio State

Forget scouting reports. The outcome of Saturday’s game between No. 7 Penn State and No. 3 Ohio State may be impacted by the availability report released by the host Buckeyes hours before the Big Ten battle in Columbus.

Attention will focus on the injury status of three running backs and standout receiver Emeka Egbuka for the Buckeyes (6-0, 3-0) when they try to take down the Nittany Lions (6-0, 3-0) and their defense that ranks in the top five nationally in several categories.

The Buckeyes finished their 41-7 win over Purdue last Saturday without their top three runners — TreVeyon Henderson, Chip Trayanum and Miyan Williams. Also, cornerback Denzel Burke left the game with an injury.

Ohio State coach Ryan Day was tight-lipped when asked Tuesday about his quartet of injured players.

“I’m not going to get into all those guys, but hopefully we’ll have those guys back for Saturday,” Day said.

Henderson has missed the past two games. Williams sat against Purdue, and Trayanum was injured late in the first quarter against the Boilermakers.

Dallan Hayden, who was considered for a redshirt season, came off the bench to rush for 76 of the Buckeyes’ 152 yards, with a long run of 19 and a 1-yard touchdown.

“You do have to get creative,” Day said. “You have to figure out ways to kind of make it work because ultimately nobody cares (about the injuries). You’ve got to figure out a way to get it done.”

Egbuka sat out the Purdue game, and his return would divert some of the focus off Marvin Harrison Jr., who hauled in six throws for 105 yards and a score against Purdue.

“It is another top-10 opponent,” Penn State defensive end Adisa Isaac said. “Obviously we’ve been battling these guys for years and years, so this is a great test for us.”

The Buckeyes will need to be as healthy as possible against a defense that ranks first in the nation in pass defense (121.2 yards per game) and total yards (193.7) and second in points (8.0) and rushing yards allowed (72.5). The Nittany Lions have held opponents under 100 rushing yards in five straight games.

Ohio State is no slouch either on defense and will be a challenge for Nittany Lions quarterback Drew Allar, a native of Medina, Ohio, who has thrown 12 touchdowns without an interception this season through 181 passes.

The Buckeyes’ pass defense is fourth (154.3) in the nation. The defense also is third in average points allowed (9.7) and seventh in total defense (263.5).

“I feel like we’ve definitely been battle-tested; we’ve played some really good opponents,” Allar said. “Offensively, we’ve gotten better each week, gotten more consistent each week, and we just need to keep building on that. We can’t change our routine based on the opponent.”

With each team still having to play No. 2 Michigan, the winner will have the inside track to the Big Ten East Division and further down the road a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Ohio State has won six straight in the series and 10 of the past 11. Penn State coach James Franklin is 1-8 vs. the Buckeyes and has lost all four games in Ohio Stadium. Penn State has not won in Columbus since 2011.

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2023; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Drew Allar (15) passes against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first half at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

No. 6 Penn State takes Big Ten break to face UMass

After rolling to three straight Big Ten victories by a combined 76 points, No. 6 Penn State will take a break from conference play when it hosts Massachusetts on Saturday in State College, Pa.

Another lopsided win appears likely for the Nittany Lions (5-0) despite coach James Franklin insisting that the Minutemen (1-6) are “maybe the most explosive team we’ve played this year.”

Penn State is healthy and eager to get back on the field following a bye week. The Nittany Lions haven’t played since rolling past host Northwestern 41-13 on Sept. 30 on the heels of a 31-0 rout of then-No. 24 Iowa.

A sturdy defense and balanced offense have helped steer the Nittany Lions to their unbeaten start.

In the Northwestern game, the Nittany Lions passed for 219 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 134 yards and three scores.

Quarterback Drew Allar passed and rushed for touchdowns behind an offensive line anchored by savvy center Hunter Nourzad, who has been especially impressive to Franklin of late.

“His approach, his maturity; gosh, he’s getting an MBA right now from Penn State. … He’s just one of those guys who’s a really great example of the importance of maturity on your football team,” Franklin said.

UMass enters Saturday’s game on a six-game losing streak. The program’s lone victory this season came on the road as quarterback Taisun Phommachanh contributed 288 yards of total offense and a rushing touchdown in a season-opening, 41-30 win at New Mexico State.

The Minutemen are coming off a 41-24 home loss to Toledo in which they were outscored 24-3 after halftime. Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams had 20 carries for a career-best 157 yards and a score, while Phommachanh passed for 272 yards and two TDs.

UMass coach Don Brown stressed that his team will need to sustain a notable effort throughout the afternoon if it expects to tread water at raucous Beaver Stadium.

“The place is going to be packed,” Brown said. “Going to be over 100,000 people there. And got to be a big boy and put your big-boy pants on and go to work. It’s real simple. Focus your attention on the task at hand and just stay in the fight for 60 minutes. And that’s kind of the deal. That’s the approach you got to take. It’s not rocket science.”

Penn State cruised past visiting UMass 48-7 in the lone previous meeting between the schools, on Sept. 20, 2014.

Smith and Franklin coached together at Maryland in 2009, with Brown serving as the Terrapins’ defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach and Franklin fulfilling duties as offensive coordinator/assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach.

Minutemen safety Tyler Rudolph transferred to the school after playing in 11 games for Penn State from 2019-21.

The Nittany Lions will close the regular season with six straight Big Ten games, beginning with an Oct. 21 visit to No. 3 Ohio State.

–Field Level Media

Penn State linebackers Kobe King (41) and Curtis Jacobs (23) get pumped up before facing off against Delaware Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, in State College, Pa.

No. 6 Penn State brings dominant defense to Northwestern

Penn State players cling to a theory about turnovers.

So far, it has served the No. 6 Nittany Lions remarkably well.

Penn State (4-0, 2-0 Big Ten) enters Saturday’s visit to conference rival Northwestern as the lone Football Bowl Subdivision program that hasn’t committed a giveaway this season.

“If you drop the ball, you’re cheating everybody’s dreams,” Nittany Lions fullback Kaytron Allen said. “We’re chasing dreams. This is our dream. You can’t lose it.”

While the Nittany Lions haven’t lost a game this season thanks in great part to their ball security, a tough defense also has propelled their unbeaten start.

In Penn State’s most recent game, a 31-0 shutout of visiting Iowa, the defense held the Hawkeyes to 76 total yards — the program’s stingiest effort against a Big Ten foe. The Nittany Lions forced four fumbles a week after notching five takeaways in their conference opener at Illinois, a 30-13 victory.

It all adds up to a unit that leads the nation in multiple defensive categories, including total defense (219.5 yards per game), pass defense (138 yards per game), first downs allowed (46) and turnover margin (plus-11).

“Stats sometimes tell a story and kind of reinforce some things that you’re doing,” Nittany Lions coach James Franklin said.

To Northwestern counterpart David Braun, Penn State’s defensive objectives are clear.

“They’re aggressive. They’re balanced. You can’t find a weakness on that defense,” said Braun, the Wildcats’ interim coach. “Really well-coached. Willing to play tight coverage. Mix in some different looks. Put stress on you on first and second down.”

The Wildcats (2-2, 1-1) are coming off a 37-34 overtime victory at home against Minnesota last Saturday.

After falling behind 31-10 through three quarters, Northwestern rallied to tie the game at 31 on Ben Bryant’s 11-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Henning with two seconds remaining in regulation. The game-winner was a 25-yard TD pass from Bryant to Charlie Mangieri in OT.

While Northwestern welcomed the victory, to be sure, Braun acknowledged he hopes the players harness a better sense of urgency against the Nittany Lions and going forward this season.

“On both sides of the football, we need to find some of that mojo in the first quarter to get going,” Braun said. “I think that only helps an offense turn positive plays into positive drives and points.”

Wildcats wideout Bryce Kirtz earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week plaudits with his standout effort against the Golden Gophers. Kirtz had 10 receptions for 215 yards and two touchdowns — all career bests — while posting the fourth-highest single-game receiving yardage total in school history.

Saturday will offer a matchup of quarterbacks aiming to build off big games. Bryant was 33-of-49 passing for 396 yards and four TDs with no interceptions.

While his yardage total of 166 wasn’t as prolific, Penn State’s Drew Allar also threw for four scores, including a pair to Tyler Warren.

Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions will aim to keep rolling behind their defense. Linebacker Curtis Jacobs helped pace the effort against Iowa with two fumble recoveries.

Penn State has won eight of the last 10 meetings with Northwestern and boasts a 15-5 edge in the all-time series.

–Field Level Media