GLENDALE, Ariz. — Consider: Washington came into the Fiesta Bowl allowing opponents an average of 278.3 yards per game during the regular season.
Penn State managed 367 on Saturday. By halftime.
Not too shabby, Ricky Rahne.
Not too damn shabby at all.
“He did a phenomenal job,” Mike Gesicki, the Nittany Lions senior tight end, said of Rahne, who made his coordinating debut for Penn State against the Huskies after Joe Moorhead, the Lions’ venerated former coordinator, took the head coaching job at Mississippi State last month.
“He prepared his tail off for this opportunity.”
In the run-up to Saturday, the narrative was in your face, even if you weren’t looking for it: The explosive Lions offense, the irresistible force, against Washington’s immovable objects — future pro defensive linemen Vita Vea (340 pounds), Greg Gaines (322 pounds) and Jaylen Johnson (298 pounds).
“Every commercial [for the game] that we would see would be, ‘Can the Huskies stop Saquon [Barkley]?’” defensive end Ryan Buchholz chuckled.
Spoiler alert: They couldn’t.
In what many expect to be No. 26’s college finale — Barkley reiterated, repeatedly and patently, that Saturday was not the time to discuss his NFL future — the junior tailback racked up 175 all-purpose yards, including 137 on the ground against a Huskies front that came in allowing 93.2 per contest.
Even more impressively, Rahne came out of the gates firing: The Lions converted their first 5 third-down opportunities and 7 of 8 during the first half. Slippery quarterback Trace McSorley completed 32 of 41 throws for 342 passing yards, ran for 60 more and was sacked just once.
Quite the debut for new Penn State offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne… https://t.co/UdhtWUuK22
— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) December 31, 2017
“It’s a dream come true for him, being the offensive coordinator,” said Gesicki, who finished with 62 receiving yards on 6 grabs in his Nittany Lions farewell. “And I couldn’t be more happy for him. He did a great job. I’m going to miss playing for him.”