Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger discuss Penn State’s decisive 41-12 victory over Auburn, and debate what the ceiling is for the Nittany Lions this season.
[BAT HITS BALL, CROWD CHEERS]
DAN WETZEL: Let's get to Penn State. Penn State underrated? Look, Auburn is not great. They're going to fire their coach. But Penn State went on the road into a hyped up SEC environment. And they manhandled them, no questions, domination of it. And they're now staring at a schedule that is very, very likable for Penn State.
They've got Central Michigan, Northwestern. Then they are at Michigan. They get Minnesota, we don't know. Then they get Ohio State at home. And then they finish with at Indiana, Maryland at home, at Rutgers, Michigan State.
I guess two questions. One is, you couldn't draw up a better start to the season, really, for Penn State. So what are they capable of is just one question. What do you think they're capable of this year? And can they win this league?
ROSS DELENGER: They got another great running back, right? It seems like they just churn them out at Penn State, which is funny because we always talk about, for years now, Auburn churning out the great running backs. And this Nick Singleton for Penn State was incredible. I mean, he only had 10 carries, had 124 yards. So he averaged like 12 yards a pop. Had a 50-yarder. I think scored a couple of touchdowns. It was impressive.
And the quarterback Clifford was good when he needed to be. He was consistent. He didn't make mistakes and that's what you've got to do on the road. And I mean, as I'm saying all this, Penn State sounds a lot like Auburn used to be for years. They had this consistent quarterback who didn't make mistakes. And they had a really good running back and a solid defense.
And I mean, James Franklin has built that program like you would expect a Big Ten program to be built like. And man, they do. They seem solid. And it seems like they got a real burst from that opener, where it was a toughie against Purdue. And a lot of people probably think Purdue should have won that game and probably outplayed them.
But sometimes you need that in a season, especially early on, to survive a game like that to kind of propel you forward.
PAT FORDE: Yeah. I mean, I was super-impressed with Penn State. And I agree. James Franklin though, it's like, can we actually see Nick Singleton carry the ball more than 10 times? He's had 10 carries in each of their three games. The kid's a blooming star. Can we please see him run, you know?
I know they're like, nobody wants to give their backs too many carries these days. So that's kind of the way it works. But I would like to see more.
DAN WETZEL: Save it for Ann Arbor.
PAT FORDE: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, that's true. But no, I think, Ross, you're right that they've kind of got their formula. They've got a sixth-year, like 40-year-old quarterback who can make some plays and also not make many bad plays. And he'll occasionally run.
And then their defense, it's funny. You look at them statistically on defense. It's kind of like, eh. But they're doing decently well as far as they're keeping the opponents out of the end zone. Their red zone stop rate is pretty good. Their third down rate is pretty good. So they've got the formula. It's kind of like a James Franklin Vanderbilt team where you're kind of wondering how the pieces are all coming together this well, but they are. That's the bottom line.