Penn State earned its ninth win of the season Saturday afternoon, defeating Rutgers 27-6 in the Nittany Lions’ final home game of the 2023 season.
Here are three takeaways from the PSU victory over the Scarlet Knights.
Running back rotation becomes clearer
Penn State came into the season with two players who were perceived as starting-level running backs and, 11 games in, it looks as if that number is down to one — at least for now. Nick Singleton has continued to struggle mightily, missing a hole that would have led to an easy second-quarter touchdown and fumbling in the second quarter to allow Rutgers to kick its second field goal.
Although Singleton boasted a few good runs in the game’s waning minutes, he still looks like a shell of the player he was last season, while position mate Kaytron Allen has been playing at a high level all season. Allen hits the hole consistently and battles for extra yards when defenders make contact, while also providing some consistency as a pass blocker. He’s the team’s clear best back, and it’s time for him to receive a workload that matches that.
QB Drew Allar’s health is paramount
There was nothing more important for Penn State this game than getting sophomore quarterback Drew Allar back on track. But now, nothing matters more than making sure he’s healthy.
Allar took a hard hit to the shoulder with about 12 minutes left in the third quarter, but stayed in for a play before heading to the sideline and the medical tent. He came out and remained on the sideline for the rest of the game and could be seen trying — and failing — to raise his right arm to shoulder height. Nothing matters more for the 2024 season than Allar’s health and, if that means missing games this year to ensure he will be full-go in the future, then so be it. If there’s even a slight risk of re-injury for Allar by playing next week against Michigan State or even a bowl game, it should be Beau Pribula starting those games.
Penn State keeps New Year’s Six hopes alive
Despite how ugly Saturday’s game was, Penn State has kept its New Year’s Six bowl chances in a good spot. The Nittany Lions need to win their matchup with Michigan State next week but, as of now, it would be a surprise if they aren’t playing in a prestigious bowl.
They came in at No. 12 in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings, giving them an opportunity to finish in the top 10 if they get some help. The Nittany Lions have two very good losses, falling to top-5 teams in Michigan and Ohio State, giving them as good of a resume as any two-loss team in the country. If they hold on next week against the Spartans, a trip to the Peach Bowl, Cotton Bowl or Fiesta Bowl should be in the cards a year after they played in the Rose Bowl.