Penn State won in fashion on Saturday, 44-13, against the Ball State Cardinals. Just like last week, let’s break down the team from a grading standpoint.
STATE COLLEGE, PA – SEPTEMBER 11: Sean Clifford #14 of the Penn State Nittany Lions attempts a pass against the Ball State Cardinals during the first half at Beaver Stadium on September 11, 2021 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Sean Clifford had immense improvement from last week. He had a few hiccups, but his performance was considerably better than last week. Auburn will be tough, but not only are they at home, but Clifford also enters this game with a lot of momentum going his way.
Next: Receivers benefit from spreading the ball around
Wide Receivers: B+
Sep 11, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) is congratulated by wide receiver Parker Washington (3) after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Ball State Cardinals at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
It’s tough to really criticize what part of this team struggled today. Sure, we saw a few mishaps on both sides of the ball. But never once was this game at all thrown away. It was great to see multiple receivers get involved in this game. This was a match-up where Penn State’s offense could fix their struggles from last week, and they certainly did that today. We saw flashes from not only Jahan Dotson but also others like Parker Washington and KeAndre Lambert-Smith.
NEXT: Penn State running game got it done
Running Backs: A
STATE COLLEGE, PA – SEPTEMBER 11: Noah Cain #21 of the Penn State Nittany Lions carries the ball against the Ball State Cardinals during the first half at Beaver Stadium on September 11, 2021 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
As mentioned, Noah Cain got involved early in this game, proving why the Nittany Lions need to keep feeding him the ball. We also saw a good amount of speed and shiftiness from Devyn Ford and Keyvone Lee. Cain definitely does make this offense more interesting. But, just like the receivers today, seeing multiple running backs show out makes this offense so much more exciting to watch.
Next: The Defense shines once again
Sep 11, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Jesse Luketa (40) celebrates with his teammates after intercepting the ball and scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Ball State Cardinals at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Ball State 44-13. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
It’s pretty hard to pick out the struggles of this game. This defense was unstoppable the entire game. It’s always more than just one player showing out at a time. This team definitely came in with a chip on their shoulders after the targeting ejection by Ellis Brooks from last week. Penn State entered this season as the 19th ranked team in the country. They entered today as number 11. With some upsets today, we can expect the Nittany Lions to be a top 10 team in the country leading into next week. It really all started with the defense this season. They are starting to prove why Penn State should be a team that should be taken more seriously.
NEXT: Special teams improve
Special Teams: A
Sep 11, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Devyn Ford (28) leaps into the air on a kick return against the Ball State Cardinals during the fourth quarter at Beaver Stadium. Penn State won 44-13. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
Jordan Stout was one of the players of the week last week. He showed off his leg on a 64-yard punt today while the rest of the special teams made some nice stops throughout the game.
This Penn State team this year is legit. Sure, it was Ball State. But it was also a Ball State team that won their conference and their first bowl game since the 90s last season. To top that off, they played a Wisconsin Badgers team who came in with a vengeance. However, Penn State continues to put itself on the map after a disappointing season last year. They came into today’s game ranked 11. After a big Ohio State upset and other close games from top 10 teams this week, it is very likely that Penn State will probably be a top 10 team leading into next week, which definitely doesn’t deserve to go overlooked with how far they’ve come since last season.
Next week they are at home, but it will be a tougher opponent in the Auburn Tigers.