Final Thoughts: Penn State 45, Buffalo 13

By Barry Leonard on September 7, 2019 at 11:06 pm
Sep 7, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin stands in front of his players prior to taking the field against the Buffalo Bulls at Beaver Stadium.
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State survived a scare from Buffalo.

Nobody expected Penn State to be down at halftime against Buffalo, especially at home and under the lights. However, that was exactly the case, as the Bulls dominated the line of scrimmage and took a three-point lead into the break. Fortunately, the Nittany Lions woke up and took over in the second half. 

Penn State began the third quarter with a promising drive, but a fumble seemed to hold the momentum on the Buffalo side of the field. However, John Reid came up with a huge pick-six on the ensuing Buffalo drive and the Nittany Lions never looked back. 

A 28-point third quarter helped the Nittany Lions pull away for the win. 

  • Jahan Dotson emerged as an important weapon for the Penn State passing game. With all of the attention rightfully falling on KJ Hamler, Dotson proved that he can't be forgotten. He caught the first touchdown pass of the game and added another late in the game. His 109 receiving yards led the team as well. Look for Dotson to continue to be a big part of the offense moving forward. 
  • Sean Clifford is a sneaky runner. Not thought of as a runner like Trace McSorley, Clifford once again had a strong game using his legs. He kept plays alive by scrambling around and bust out some big runs when needed. Clifford racked up a team-high 49 rushing yards on just eight carries, including a 58 yard scamper in the big third quarter. 
  • A healthy John Reid is a huge factor for the defense. After an inconsistent return to action last year, he is showing signs of the promise he had during his younger years in Happy Valley. Reid's pick-six in the third quarter changed the tone of the game and helped propel the Nittany Lions to victory. Reid was all over the field and showed a veteran leadership that will be crucial for the rest of the season. 
  • Penn State's offensive line still needs some work. From false starts to missed assignments, this wasn't the best game for Matt Limegrover's group. Quarterback Sean Clifford found himself under a lot of pressure, particularly in the first half, and the running game did not have much room to work with. With veterans like Will Fries, Michal Menet, and Steven Gonzalez, this group has to get better. 
  • Tight end Pat Freiermuth is a beast. Curiously, he wasn't a part of the game plan in the first half, but that changed in a big way during the second half. He scored two touchdowns in the third quarter and led the team with eight catches for 100 yards. 

Penn State escaped Buffalo's upset bid, but there is definitely plenty to work on during the upcoming week. Slow starts have seemed to plague the Nittany Lions in recent years, and that can't continue this season. With Pitt coming to Beaver Stadium next week, the Nittany Lions need to be ready for another tough battle. 

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