Two Penn State teams took the field on Saturday afternoon against Rutgers. Both were better than the Scarlet Knights, but they went about showing their superiority in different ways.
For much the first half, the Nittany Lion squad that lost its last two games in heartbreaking fashion showed up. It was sluggish against a fired up Rutgers squad — the opening kickoff was recovered by the visitors, Penn State's offense was kind of stagnant, and the defense just could not tackle when the opportunity would present itself. If the team played like this for four quarters, there's a chance it would have won, but it would not have been comfortable.
Instead, the second Penn State team showed up and calmed things down. This was the team that climbed to No. 2 in the polls by feasting on inferior opponents. Yes, it's an imperfect team, but it's still one that knows exactly what it has to do to minimize those weaknesses and win games.
Penn State did not get onto the scoreboard until the 9:32 mark in the second quarter, when Trace McSorley danced his way into the end zone. Up until that point, Rutgers had led essentially all game. The Scarlet Knights had a 6-0 lead before McSorley's 20-yard scamper, but then the Nittany Lions thought it would be cool to rip off 35 consecutive points en route to a win.
So yeah. Penn State is 8-2. It is going to move up in the polls from No. 14, and there's a non-zero chance it makes its way into the top-10 if it gets lucky. Hell, it should get into the top-10 by the end of the season, which is great.
The big issue from this game — the slow start — can more or less be chalked up to the team needing a shot in the arm after two consecutive losses by four total points. There are other issues abound, like the Nittany Lions' run blocking and its issues wrapping up, but they weren't able to keep Penn State from picking up the win. Onward to Nebraska.