Article Written by Mac Young
Originally Published on November 12, 2023
Defense wins championships, offense wins big games.
Penn State has not been able to deliver a competent offensive performance in its two most important games of the season. The Nittany Lions fell 24-15 to the Michigan Wolverines Saturday afternoon.
At Ohio State, the Nittany Lions went 1/16 on third down while the defense bailed the offense out drive after drive until it was too much.
On Saturday afternoon against Michigan, Penn State averaged just 3.2 yards per pass. Drew Allar completed less than 50% of his attempts for a laughable 70 passing yards.
The big-armed, five-star quarterback who was promised to zip the ball all over the gridiron has been relegated to a game manager in offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich’s offense.
Head coach James Franklin is now 4-16 against Ohio State and Michigan during his tenure at Penn State.
It’s another big game loss for Franklin and the Nittany Lions in a contest where Penn State looked like it had the talent to complete.
The Nittany Lions couldn't get out of their own way.
The longest offensive play of the day was a 34-yard Kaytron Allen run where he could not break away from the defense. Penn State had few positive offensive drives and on one of the only promising ones, Allar fumbled the ball away.
On defense, Penn State forced no turnovers. Michigan threw the ball just eight times, grinding out the Nittany Lion defense by grounding and pounding the ball.
With all those run plays, you would think a Penn State linebacker would be the leading tackler, but the Wolverine backs got into the secondary so many times that Kevin Winston Jr. led the Nittany Lions with 12.
With all that went wrong for Penn State, the game was quite close. The game was within one score for the majority of the second half.
Did I mention that Michigan was without head coach Jim Harbough due to a suspension in the midst of a sign-stealing scandal?
All that and Penn State still couldn’t get it done.
Everything changes next year when four new teams are added to the Big Ten. Penn State’s schedule will not revolve around two games against Ohio State and Michigan.
In fact, Penn State will not play Michigan next year in the regular season.
On top of that, the College Football Playoff expands from four teams to 12 next season. The 10-2 season that many Penn State fans have been groaning about might be good enough for a playoff berth in 2024.
All that to say, James Franklin and his staff need to dig deep to try and understand how to change the narrative when it comes to Penn State and big games. And maybe completely reconfigure the offensive playbook.
Next up is the home finale against Rutgers.
Mac Young is a senior broadcast journalism major at Penn State.
To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.