This was easily the weirdest and most entertaining game Penn State played this season, which is everything that a bowl game against the non-power five champions should be. In a back-and-forth shootout between two of the country's most explosive offenses, the Lions were the ones who were able to survive and outlast the other and take home another New Years Six bowl game win by a final of 53-39.
The win pushes Penn State's final 2019 record to an excellent 11-2, providing an excellent jumping-off point for what could be a monster 2020 season with big-time playoff aspirations. But before we close the book on another double-digit win season in Happy Valley, let's dive into three key takeaways from this latest big-time win.
The run Game Came to Play
Journey Brown, Noah Cain, Devyn Ford, and Ricky Slade came into the 2019 season poised to be a four-headed monster that could attack defenses in a myriad of ways. While it didn't quite shake out that way throughout the entirety of the season, we saw the potential that this group has in the season finale. Brown ended the game with a bowl-record 202 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cain ended the game with 92 yards and 2 touchdowns. Slade ended with 58 yards, and Ford added a touchdown on the ground.
Penn State looks to be primed to be a force on offense next season, and the running game may just lead the way.
What more can be said about the sophomore superstar? The Harrisburg native has been playing at an All-American level all season long but saved his best for last in 2019. The stud linebacker was all over the field and made his presence known from the first snap to the last. We'll have more on his monster day here on Roar Lions Roar in a bit.
Finishing on a High Note
In many ways, this game was a perfect microcosm of Penn State's season. The Lions had their share of lulls, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, but in the end, the talent, firepower, and depth on the good guys' sideline won out, as it often did throughout 2019.
The team missed its chance for more this season with two tough road losses to Minnesota and Ohio State, but to finish with another 11-win season, led nearly entirely by players who will return in 2020, is a massive accomplishment. James Franklin has rebuilt this program and brought them to a playing level that has not been seen in Happy Valley in some time. Onward and upward to 2020.