The Land of 10 staff will vote on a Big Ten power poll every Sunday during the 2017 college football season. Penn State analyst Tyler Donohue is among 13 voters. He’ll provide his thoughts here each week.
Last week, I explained my outlook on why Penn State belonged on top of our initial Land of 10 Power Poll. Now there is no need to argue that point, as the Nittany Lions are No. 1 in Week 2.
Penn State didn’t control the time of possession battle Saturday afternoon against Pitt, but that ultimately didn’t matter in this highly anticipated matchup. The Nittany Lions prevailed, 33-14, winning in front of a James Franklin era-high 109,898 fans at Beaver Stadium.
“I think we all see how special this place is when everyone is pulling the rope in the same direction,” Franklin said afterward.
Bingo. That’s what I see, too. As an outsider who spent three seasons in the football-recruiting department of another Big Ten program, it’s clear this program and university are on the same page.
Penn State proved it possesses more than just a potent offense during the decisive victory, as well, implementing a defensive game plan that stifled the Panthers in key situations. The Nittany Lions have allowed just one touchdown through eight quarters of action this season.
Heisman Trophy hopeful Saquon Barkley was limited to just 22 total offensive yards in the first half, but he erupted for pivotal production when Penn State needed him most. Barkley accrued 104 yards and a touchdown during the third quarter, before opening the fourth quarter with a touchdown run.
“Saquon is not a guy you can stop for a while,” linebacker Jason Cabinda said afterward. “He’s going to get his.”
The defense displayed its prowess, too, against an opponent that put 42 points on the Nittany Lions last season. Penn State came up clutch with a pair of stops inside its own 10-yard line during the second half, preventing Pitt from picking up additional points and potentially swinging momentum.
Quarterback Trace McSorley complemented Barkley and displayed the program’s quick-hit offensive firepower during multiple scoring drives.
Penn State, now 12-2 since losing to the Panthers on Sept. 10, 2016, belongs on top of any Big Ten debate.
Ohio State and Michigan clearly have offensive issues to work through, while the Nittany Lions are implementing a balanced and efficient attack. As the reigning conference champ, Penn State belongs at No. 1 on our list. I’m glad my colleagues see this the same way.
Week 2 Land of 10 Power Poll vote totals
- Penn State (12)…168
- Michigan (1)…154
- Ohio State…140
- Michigan State…69