Penn Staters At The Next Level: Week 11

While it wasn’t a spectacular weekend for Nittany Lions in the NFL, a few former Penn Staters turned in solid performances for their respective teams.

Amani Oruwariye, CB, Detroit Lions

The Lions had a miserable Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, getting shut out for the first time in 11 years by the Carolina Panthers, 20-0.

The score could have been worse if not for a pair of red zone interceptions by Detroit’s defense, including one from Amani Oruwariye, his first of the season.

Oruwariye has been the Lions best cornerback this season, outperforming top-three pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Jeff Okudah of Ohio State.

As noted by MLive.com, Oruwariye is allowing just one yard per coverage snap for the season, which ranks among the top 25 cornerbacks who have played at least half their team’s defensive snaps. 

According to Pro Football Focus, the former Nittany Lion was the Lions highest-graded defensive player in Week 11 and third-best among all defenders in the NFL. 

Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Godwin’s fourth quarter touchdown to tie Tampa Bay with the Rams looked as though it was going to give his team a huge boost heading into crunch time on Monday Night Football.

Photo By Steve Manuel

That didn’t prove to be the case, though, as the Los Angeles offense connected on a field goal on its ensuing drive and Tom Brady subsequently threw an awful INT on the next Bucs possession. 

No team has been more up and down this season by Tampa Bay. The Bucs have some impressive wins over Green Bay and Las Vegas, but equally out-of-sync performances like the one against the Rams. 

Godwin has remained a consistent contributor, however. He finished Monday’s game with 53 yards on seven receptions and that touchdown. 

Even with Tampa’s eventual defeat, it was a heck of an effort on the part of Godwin to reach the end zone for the tying score, leaping over a defender near the goal line and stretching out for six. 

Adrian Amos, S, Green Bay Packers

It’s tough to put all the blame on the Packers’ defense for the team’s second half collapse in Sunday’s loss at the Colts, as the Green Bay offense was stagnant and turnover prone after halftime.

Amos was his usual solid self in the Green Bay secondary, coming up with seven tackles and a pass defended. 

Photo By Steve Manuel

He and the Packers’ defense held their own for as long as they could, but too many mistakes by the offense — including a fumble on their own side of the field in OT — proved decisive in Indianapolis’ 34-31 win.

Amos and his teammates will look to bounce back at home on Sunday Night Football against the Chicago Bears in Week 12.

Nittany Lions In The NFL
Baltimore Ravens (1): Trace McSorley
Buffalo Bills (1): Ryan Bates
Carolina Panthers (2): Yetur Gross-Matos, Shareef Miller 
Chicago Bears (2): Jordan Lucas, Allen Robinson II
Dallas Cowboys (2): Sean Lee, Connor McGovern
Denver Broncos (2): DaeSean Hamilton, KJ Hamler 
Detroit Lions (3): Jason Cabinda, Jesse James, Amani Oruwariye
Green Bay Packers (1): Adrian Amos 
Houston Texans (1): John Reid 
Indianapolis Colts (1): Robert Windsor 
Kansas City Chiefs (1): Stefen Wisniewski
Las Vegas Raiders (2): Nick Bowers, Carl Nassib
Los Angeles Rams (1): Nick Scott
Miami Dolphins (1): Mike Gesicki
Minnesota Vikings (1): Dan Chisena 
New Orleans Saints (1): Blake Gillikin 
New York Giants (3): Saquon Barkley, Cam Brown, Austin Johnson
New York Jets (1): Sam Ficken, Chris Hogan, Ross Travis
Philadelphia Eagles (2): Miles Sanders, Shareef Miller
Pittsburgh Steelers (1): Marcus Allen
San Francisco 49ers (2): Kevin Givens, Robbie Gould 
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3): Chris Godwin, A.Q. Shipley, Donovan Smith 
Tennessee Titans (2): Jack Crawford, DaQuan Jones
Washington Football Team (1): Troy Apke 

Nittany Lions On NFL Coaching Staffs
Matt Rhule – Carolina Panthers Head Coach
Tom Bradley – Pittsburgh Steelers DBs Coach
Bobby Engram – Baltimore Ravens TEs Coach
Al Golden – Cincinnati Bengals LBs Coach
D’Anton Lynn – Houston Texans Secondary Coach
Mike Munchak – Denver Broncos OL Coach
Jeff Nixon – Carolina Panthers Senior Offensive Assistant

FROM THE ARCHIVES: PENN STATE V. IOWA (2007)

When Penn State hosted Iowa in Week 6 of the 2007 season, it was looking to stop two separate losing streaks.

The Nittany Lions were coming off of two-straight losses to open up their Big Ten campaign to Michigan and Illinois, respectively.

Penn State had also not beaten the Hawkeyes in the past five tries, including an ugly 6-4 home loss in the previous meeting between the two teams in 2004. 

Rodney Kinlaw, a fifth-year senior on that 07 team, said the Nittany Lions’ mindset heading into their matchup with the Hawkeyes was to “take care of the little things.”

“It’s all about executing,” Kinlaw said. “Play to the best of your ability and give it all on the field. Don’t stop playing until the clock reads double zeros at the end of the fourth quarter.”

As far why it seemed Iowa had Penn State’s number in recent meetings, Kinlaw said the common denominator was always the Hawkeyes’ toughness along the defensive and offensive lines.

Photo Courtesy of Penn State Athletics

“They’re always good in the trenches,” Kinlaw said. “That’s where the game is pretty much going to be won. If the line can’t block, you’re running back and quarterback aren’t going to be productive. Iowa always seemed to have big, tough guys up front.”

Penn State controlled the line of scrimmage, took care of the little things and snapped their duo of losing streaks, dominating Iowa 27-7.

“With the vociferous support of 108,951 fans — the largest crowd to watch a football game that Saturday — the struggling Lions were resuscitated with a 27-7 victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten opener in Happy Valley,” editor John Black noted in The Football Letter

For Kinlaw, his performance against the Hawkeyes was reminiscent of his college career as a whole.

He missed his freshman season in 2004 with a knee injury and was forced to redshirt. He battled his way back, but sat behind Tony Hunt on the depth chart.

By the time his senior season arrived, he was splitting carries with the likes of Evan Royster, Austin Scott and Stefon Green.

His confidence never wavered, though.

“It took a while, but I always knew I was going to get back on the field,” Kinlaw said.

Kinlaw overcame a fumble early in the game, which drew the ire of Paterno, to finish with a career-high 168 yards and two touchdowns.

“It was a great feeling to have that kind of day at home in an important game for us, especially after tearing my ACL and working so hard to get back into the lineup,” Kinlaw said. “It was a blessing to get that chance to show what I could do.”

The Nittany Lions went on two win their next two contests and five of their final seven overall, including the 24-17 success over Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl. 

Photo Courtesy of Penn State Athletics

The early-season struggles Kinlaw and his teammates faced during that 2007 season sort of mirror the kind of struggles the current Nittany Lions squad face today, sitting at 0-4 in the Big Ten.

Kinlaw said the best advice he can give to the 2020 team is to stick together and lean on one another as teammates.

“If you see your teammate giving 100 percent, it’s probably going to push you to give 100 percent. So, you want to be the guy who sets that example. Lean on that fight together. Be that person where your teammates know that they can count on.”

Penn Staters At The Next Level: Week 10

It was another productive weekend for some former Penn State stars in the NFL, so let’s get to the highlights.

Adrian Amos, S, Green Bay Packers

Photo By Steve Manuel

Amos continues to shine in Green Bay’s secondary. In Sunday’s win over the Jaguars, it was the Green Bay defense, not it’s high powered offense, that had to carry the Packers for most of the game. 

With Jacksonville approaching midfield in the second quarter, Amos jumped in front of the intended receiver and snagged an interception — his first of the 2020 season. 

Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

It’s safe to say Tampa Bay was a little ticked off after its drubbing at the hands of the New Orleans Saints a week ago on Sunday Night Football. 

The Bucs offense was unstoppable in their bounceback win over Carolina in Week 10, racking up 46 points and 544 yards of total offense. 

Photo By Steve Manuel

Godwin was once again a focal point, with six receptions for 92 yards. 

Even with Antonio Brown in the lineup, the former Nittany Lion is sure to continue to receive a high-amount of targets from Tom Brady. 

Carl Nassib,  DL, Las Vegas Raiders

Photo By Steve Manuel

Hey, who doesn’t love when a defensive lineman gets an interception?

Nassib snagged his first career INT in Las Vegas’ 37-13 win over divisional rivals Denver on Sunday, catching Broncos QB Drew Lock completely by surprise as he dropped into coverage in the middle of the field.

Nasib and the Raiders will now host the Kansas City Chiefs for a huge matchup on Sunday Night Football in Week 11. 

DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Denver Broncos

It was a tough day at the office for the Denver offense, but Hamilton came up with another touchdown grab. 

That gives him two touchdowns in as many weeks.

Photo By Steve Manuel

He finished the game with three receptions for 33 yards and that score.

Nittany Lions In The NFL
Baltimore Ravens (1): Trace McSorley
Buffalo Bills (1): Ryan Bates
Carolina Panthers (2): Yetur Gross-Matos, Shareef Miller 
Chicago Bears (2): Jordan Lucas, Allen Robinson II
Dallas Cowboys (2): Sean Lee, Connor McGovern
Denver Broncos (2): DaeSean Hamilton, KJ Hamler 
Detroit Lions (3): Jason Cabinda, Jesse James, Amani Oruwariye
Green Bay Packers (1): Adrian Amos 
Houston Texans (1): John Reid 
Indianapolis Colts (1): Robert Windsor 
Las Vegas Raiders (2): Nick Bowers, Carl Nassib
Los Angeles Rams (1): Nick Scott
Miami Dolphins (1): Mike Gesicki
Minnesota Vikings (1): Dan Chisena 
New Orleans Saints (1): Blake Gillikin 
New York Giants (3): Saquon Barkley, Cam Brown, Austin Johnson
New York Jets (1): Sam Ficken, Chris Hogan, Ross Travis
Philadelphia Eagles (2): Miles Sanders, Trevor Williams, Shareef Miller
Pittsburgh Steelers (1): Marcus Allen
San Francisco 49ers (2): Kevin Givens, Robbie Gould 
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3): Chris Godwin, A.Q. Shipley, Donovan Smith 
Tennessee Titans (2): Jack Crawford, DaQuan Jones
Washington Football Team (1): Troy Apke 

Nittany Lions On NFL Coaching Staffs
Matt Rhule – Carolina Panthers Head Coach
Tom Bradley – Pittsburgh Steelers DBs Coach
Bobby Engram – Baltimore Ravens TEs Coach
Al Golden – Cincinnati Bengals LBs Coach
D’Anton Lynn – Houston Texans Secondary Coach
Mike Munchak – Denver Broncos OL Coach
Jeff Nixon – Carolina Panthers Senior Offensive Assistant

Penn Staters At The Next Level: Week 9

After our first eight Penn Staters At The Next Level recaps were dominated by offensive players, Week 9 saw defensive players take the spotlight. 

DaQuan Jones, DL, Tennessee Titans 

The Titans defense had struggled mightily in recent weeks, but had a nice performance against the Bears in Week 9.

At the heart of this improved effort was former Nittany Lion DaQuan Jones. The seven-year vet was a force along Tennessee’s defensive line, recording five solo tackles, two assisted stops and a half sack. 

Jones and the Titans D held Chicago to just 56 yards rushing. 

Adrian Amos, S, Green Bay Packers

It was another strong showing for Adrian Amos as Green Bay got a little bit of revenge on a depleted 49ers squad with a 34-17 win. 

Photo By Steve Manuel

Amos recorded five tackles (second highest on the team) and Green Bay turned the tables on San Francisco after an embarrassing loss to the same foe in the NFC Championship Game just over 10 months ago.  

Amos and the rest of the Packers defense will look to keep this momentum going against a bad Jacksonville team in Week 10. 

Carl Nassib,  DL, Las Vegas Raiders

Don’t look now, but the Raiders are 5-3 and look to have a very good shot to make the playoffs in this year’s expanded format.

Former Lion Carl Nassib had two tackles and a sack in Las Vegas’ 31-26 win over the division rival Chargers on Sunday.

Photo By Steve Manuel

Two more clashes with AFC West Opponents — the Broncos and Chiefs — loom large in the Raiders’ quest to make the postseason for the first time since 2016. 

KJ Hamler, WR, Denver Broncos

A week after snagging the game-winning touchdown for Denver against Los Angeles, Hamler turned in another strong showing for the Broncos in Week 9.

The rookie wideout hauled in six receptions for 75 yards on a team-high 10 targets. 

He seems to be developing a good rapport with Denver QB Drew Lock, and assuming the pair can stay healthy, that bodes well for the team from Mile High.

Photo By Steve Manuel

Nittany Lions In The NFL
Baltimore Ravens (1): Trace McSorley
Buffalo Bills (1): Ryan Bates
Carolina Panthers (2): Yetur Gross-Matos, Shareef Miller 
Chicago Bears (2): Jordan Lucas, Allen Robinson II
Dallas Cowboys (2): Sean Lee, Connor McGovern
Denver Broncos (2): DaeSean Hamilton, KJ Hamler 
Detroit Lions (3): Jason Cabinda, Jesse James, Amani Oruwariye
Green Bay Packers (1): Adrian Amos 
Houston Texans (1): John Reid 
Indianapolis Colts (1): Robert Windsor 
Las Vegas Raiders (2): Nick Bowers, Carl Nassib
Los Angeles Rams (1): Nick Scott
Miami Dolphins (1): Mike Gesicki
Minnesota Vikings (1): Dan Chisena 
New Orleans Saints (1): Blake Gillikin 
New York Giants (3): Saquon Barkley, Cam Brown, Austin Johnson
New York Jets (1): Sam Ficken, Chris Hogan, Ross Travis
Philadelphia Eagles (2): Miles Sanders, Trevor Williams, Shareef Miller
Pittsburgh Steelers (1): Marcus Allen, Stefen Wisniewski 
San Francisco 49ers (2): Kevin Givens, Robbie Gould 
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3): Chris Godwin, A.Q. Shipley, Donovan Smith 
Tennessee Titans (2): Jack Crawford, DaQuan Jones
Washington Football Team (1): Troy Apke 

Nittany Lions On NFL Coaching Staffs
Matt Rhule – Carolina Panthers Head Coach
Tom Bradley – Pittsburgh Steelers DBs Coach
Bobby Engram – Baltimore Ravens TEs Coach
Al Golden – Cincinnati Bengals LBs Coach
D’Anton Lynn – Houston Texans Secondary Coach
Mike Munchak – Denver Broncos OL Coach
Jeff Nixon – Carolina Panthers Senior Offensive Assistant

FROM THE ARCHIVES: PENN STATE V. MARYLAND (2015)

Prior to the 2014 defeat to Maryland — its first season in the Big Ten — Penn State was unbeaten in its last 29 games against the Terrapins.

The lone minor blemish in that streak was a 13-13 tie in Baltimore, which was the Nittany Lions’ last tie in program history. 

On Oct. 24, 2015, Penn State and Maryland met once more in Baltimore at the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium, with the Terrapins now looking to start a streak of their own. 

The game, as editor of The Football Letter John Black wrote, was a “barnburner” from start to finish. 

“Together the two teams thrilled a crowd of 68,948 with big offensive plays, tough defensive stops, critical takeaways and giveaways in a game that went back and forth with exciting action for 60 minutes, before Penn State claimed a one point victory,” Black wrote afterward.

The contest featured five lead changes, six touchdown plays of 10 or more yards, 13 plays of 20 or more yards from scrimmage (with a long of 48), and eight combined turnovers.

After a slow offensive start from both teams, Penn State opened up the scoring through freshman running back Saquon Barkley’s 6-yard touchdown run halfway through the first quarter. 

Photo By Steve Manuel

Maryland tied things up at 7-7 on its ensuing possession as the teams battled back and forth the rest of the opening half, which saw the Nittany Lions enter the halfway point on top 17-13. 

The Terrapins regained the lead, 20–17, by moving 68 yards on nine plays (all on the ground) in 4:10 on their first possession of the second half.

On Penn State’s next possession, the Lions grabbed the lead back at 24– 20 with a seven­-play, 79-­yard march in under four minutes. The drive was capped off by Christian Hackenberg’s 20-yard strike to DaeSean Hamilton. 

The two sides traded two more touchdowns, with the Penn State score coming via a gorgeous catch from Geno Lewis as he lept for the ball over his defender near the corner of the end zone. 

From there it was a defensive struggle with a cascade of turnovers and just a sole Maryland field goal to cut the deficit to 31-30. 

After a Penn State punt, the Terrapins had one last chance with the ball at their own 25 and 1:21 left on the clock.

Photo By Steve Manuel

But on the very first play of the drive, Terps quarterback Perry Hills’ pass went off his receiver’s hands and into the arms of Malik Golden.

The pick was sealed and so was the win for the Nittany Lions to give them their sixth victory, moving them to bowl eligibility for a second consecutive season. 

Hackenberg completed 13-of-29 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns, thus setting Penn State’s all­-time record for pass completions at 608 and passing yardage at 7,453. 

Penn Staters At The Next Level: Week 8

Even with Chris Godwin out of Tampa Bay’s lineup due to a finger injury, it was still a stellar weekend for Penn State wide receivers in the NFL.

KJ Hamler, WR, Denver Broncos

It seemed like the Broncos were finished in the third quarter of Sunday’s game with their division rival Los Angeles Charges. Trailing 24-3 and an offense that was sputtering, it seemed pretty improbable Denver had enough firepower to turn it around.

Photo By Steve Manuel

That proved not to be the case as the Broncos rallied for a stunning 31-30 win and the fourth largest comeback in franchise history.

Former Nittany Lion KJ Hamler one of the biggest heroes of the day for Denver, doing just enough to stay in bounds and corral a pass from Drew Lock to score the game-winning touchdown — the first touchdown of Hamler’s NFL career.

DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Denver Broncos

Hamler’s teammate (and fellow former Penn Stater) DaeSean Hamilton also had a big day for Denver.

Photo By Steve Manuel

Hamilton snagged Lock’s pass near the Chargers’ 20-yard line and sped toward the end zone to cut the deficit at that point to just three points at 27-24.

Overall, Hamilton finished with four receptions for 82 yards and that touchdown. The receiving total was Hamilton’s highest in a single game in his NFL career.

Allen Robinson II, WR, Chicago Bears

Photo By Steve Manuel

Another week, another Allen Robinson II appearance in our recap.

Even with the Bears offense continuing to struggle in their second straight loss, Robinson II continues to be a workhorse for Chicago.

He finished with six passes for 87 yards and this terrific touchdown grab. That’s some elite concentration to haul that one in while diving on to the cold turf of Soldier Field.

Nittany Lions In The NFL
Baltimore Ravens (1): Trace McSorley
Buffalo Bills (1): Ryan Bates
Carolina Panthers (2): Yetur Gross-Matos, Shareef Miller 
Chicago Bears (2): Jordan Lucas, Allen Robinson II
Dallas Cowboys (2): Sean Lee, Connor McGovern
Denver Broncos (2): DaeSean Hamilton, KJ Hamler 
Detroit Lions (3): Jason Cabinda, Jesse James, Amani Oruwariye
Green Bay Packers (1): Adrian Amos 
Houston Texans (1): John Reid 
Indianapolis Colts (1): Robert Windsor 
Las Vegas Raiders (2): Nick Bowers, Carl Nassib
Los Angeles Rams (1): Nick Scott
Miami Dolphins (1): Mike Gesicki
Minnesota Vikings (1): Dan Chisena 
New Orleans Saints (1): Blake Gillikin 
New York Giants (3): Saquon Barkley, Cam Brown, Austin Johnson
New York Jets (1): Sam Ficken, Chris Hogan, Ross Travis
Philadelphia Eagles (2): Miles Sanders, Trevor Williams, Shareef Miller
Pittsburgh Steelers (1): Marcus Allen, Stefen Wisniewski 
San Francisco 49ers (2): Kevin Givens, Robbie Gould 
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3): Chris Godwin, A.Q. Shipley, Donovan Smith 
Tennessee Titans (2): Jack Crawford, DaQuan Jones
Washington Football Team (1): Troy Apke 

Nittany Lions On NFL Coaching Staffs
Matt Rhule – Carolina Panthers Head Coach
Tom Bradley – Pittsburgh Steelers DBs Coach
Bobby Engram – Baltimore Ravens TEs Coach
Al Golden – Cincinnati Bengals LBs Coach
D’Anton Lynn – Houston Texans Secondary Coach
Mike Munchak – Denver Broncos OL Coach
Jeff Nixon – Carolina Panthers Senior Offensive Assistant

Penn Staters At The Next Level: Week 7

After a few weeks out of the spotlight with an injury, Chris Godwin returned to form with an excellent performance for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He leads off our Penn Staters At The Next Level recap for Week 7. 

Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Photo By Steve Manuel

Godwin looks to be the favorite target of quarterback Tom Brady among all the impressive offensive weapons at his disposal. 

Brady targeted Godwin a team-high nine times in Sunday’s 45-20 when over the Oakland — check that, I mean Las Vegas — Raiders. Godwin caught all nine of his targets for 88 yards, including this tip-toed touchdown reception to put the Bucs up by double digits in the fourth quarter. 

The only bad news from Godwin’s performance is that he suffered an injury to his index finger and underwent surgery on Tuesday.

He will miss his team’s Monday Night matchup against the New York Giants in Week 8, but there’s a possibility he returns to the lineup in Week 9. 

Adrian Amos, S, Green Bay Packers

Photo By Steve Manuel

As I mentioned earlier in the season, Amos seems to be the leader of the Packers’ secondary and had another strong showing in Green Bay’s 35-20 win over the Texans. 

Amos notched six tackles and his first sack of the season against Houston, as the Packers rebounded from their first loss of the season a week ago. 

Kevin Givens, DL, San Francisco 49ers

Photo By Steve Manuel

That had to feel good! Givens recorded his first career sack as a pro, taking down Patriots backup QB Jarret Stidham late in the fourth quarter of the 49ers’ dominant road win over New England.

It might have been a garbage time sack, but hey, they all count the same in the record book.

With San Francisco dealing with a ton of injuries to their defensive line, Givens has seen more and more playing time this season. 

Nittany Lions In The NFL
Baltimore Ravens (1): Trace McSorley
Buffalo Bills (1): Ryan Bates
Carolina Panthers (2): Yetur Gross-Matos, Shareef Miller 
Chicago Bears (2): Jordan Lucas, Allen Robinson II
Dallas Cowboys (2): Sean Lee, Connor McGovern
Denver Broncos (2): DaeSean Hamilton, KJ Hamler 
Detroit Lions (3): Jason Cabinda, Jesse James, Amani Oruwariye
Green Bay Packers (1): Adrian Amos 
Houston Texans (1): John Reid 
Indianapolis Colts (1): Robert Windsor 
Las Vegas Raiders (2): Nick Bowers, Carl Nassib
Los Angeles Rams (1): Nick Scott
Miami Dolphins (1): Mike Gesicki
Minnesota Vikings (1): Dan Chisena 
New Orleans Saints (1): Blake Gillikin 
New York Giants (3): Saquon Barkley, Cam Brown, Austin Johnson
New York Jets (1): Sam Ficken, Chris Hogan, Ross Travis
Philadelphia Eagles (2): Miles Sanders, Trevor Williams, Shareef Miller
Pittsburgh Steelers (1): Marcus Allen, Stefen Wisniewski 
San Francisco 49ers (2): Kevin Givens, Robbie Gould 
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3): Chris Godwin, A.Q. Shipley, Donovan Smith 
Tennessee Titans (2): Jack Crawford, DaQuan Jones
Washington Football Team (1): Troy Apke 

Nittany Lions On NFL Coaching Staffs
Matt Rhule – Carolina Panthers Head Coach
Tom Bradley – Pittsburgh Steelers DBs Coach
Bobby Engram – Baltimore Ravens TEs Coach
Al Golden – Cincinnati Bengals LBs Coach
D’Anton Lynn – Houston Texans Secondary Coach
Mike Munchak – Denver Broncos OL Coach
Jeff Nixon – Carolina Panthers Senior Offensive Assistant

FROM THE ARCHIVES: PENN STATE V. INDIANA (2016)

Trailing 24-21 entering the 4th quarter, the 2016 Penn State Football team did what they always seemed to do that season: they mounted a comeback. 

Editor of The Football Letter John Black ’62  said it best after the game in The Letter.

“After a scare by a dangerous but erratic Indiana team Saturday, Penn State’s 2016 Cinderella season continued with the Nittany Lions’ sixth consecutive Big Ten Conference win,” Black wrote.

With a win and a Michigan loss at Iowa later that evening, the Nittany Lions would find themselves in an improbable three-way tie atop the Big Ten East standings with the Wolverines and Ohio State. 

Improbable because of how Penn State started its campaign at 2-2 with a heartbreaking defeat at Pitt in Week 2 followed by a thumping in ‘The Big House’ in two weeks later. 

The Nittany Lions had shown in their previous five games before their matchup with the Hoosiers, however, that they had come a long way since those early season struggles. 

To get the comeback started at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, then-offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead went into his bag of tricks with the Lions near the Hoosiers’ end zone. Quarterback Trace McSorley handed the ball off to Saquon Barkley only to have Barkley turn around and pitch it back to McSorley for a flea flicker.

Photo By Steve Manuel

McSorley connected with DaeSean Hamilton for a 54-yard strike and the potent offensive attack for Penn State was rolling once again. 

Another Indiana score on its next possession gave them back the lead.

A 7-play, 57-yard drive was capped off by two determined runs from Barkley and put Penn State ahead once more at 35-31 with just over four minutes to go. 

After a fourth-down stop by the Penn State defense resulted in a Tyler Davis field goal for the blue and white, the Hoosiers became desperate. 

Dropping back to pass on his own side of the field, IU quarterback Richard Lagow was smacked by a rushing Brandon Bell and the ball popped free.

There to scoop it up was defensive end Torrence Brown who barely stayed on his feet and drove into the end zone to put the Nittany Lions up 14 with less than a minute to go and effectively put the game on ice. 

The win marked the first time Penn State had won six-consecutive Big Ten games in the same season since 1994. 

Photo By Steve Manuel

James Franklin said afterward as Black reflected in the Football Letter, “We didn’t panic. Our defense kept us in the game, and we found a different way to win on the road. That’s an important trait for a young team still under development.”

Michigan would indeed fall in defeat at Iowa later that evening to put the Lions in a tie for first in their division.

As Black noted after the game, “Penn State will have more opportunities to make this season even more memorable than it already is.” 

Safe to say, a Big Ten Championship title later, the Nittany Lions came through on those opportunities.

Penn Staters At The Next Level: Week 6

While Miles Sanders makes his return to our Penn Staters At The Next Level series for Week 6, we also highlight two new faces in Amani Oruwariye and DaQuan Jones. 

Amani Oruwariye, CB, Detroit Lions

Oruwariye continues to improve and has become a steady presence in a Lions secondary that badly needed some consistent performers. 

He was tasked with locking down Jaguars star DJ Chark Jr. and was well up to the challenge, holding the wide receiver to just 43 yards on a game-high 14 targets. 

Oruwariye also recorded two tackles and two passes defended as the Lions improved to 2-3 on the season following a bye week in Week 5. 

Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

Photo By Steve Manuel

For the first time this season, Sanders rushed for over 100 yards as Philadelphia nearly pulled off an incredible comeback over the Baltimore Ravens. 

His 74-yard rush in the third quarter saw Sanders fumble near the goal line but the ball was recovered in the end zone by teammate JJ Arcega-Whiteside for an Eagles touchdown. 

Unfortunately for Sanders, he left the game with a knee injury and did not return. The Eagles have already announced he will miss the team’s Thursday Night Football clash against the Giants in Week 7. 

DaQuan Jones, DL, Tennessee Titans

Photo By Steve Manuel

In his return to action after testing positive for COVID-19 a few weeks ago, Jones sacked Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and notched another four tackles.

Now that’s how you mark your comeback into the lineup. 

The Titans remained undefeated on the season by defeating Houston in a 42-36 thriller. 

Nittany Lions In The NFL
Baltimore Ravens (1): Trace McSorley
Buffalo Bills (1): Ryan Bates
Carolina Panthers (2): Yetur Gross-Matos, Shareef Miller 
Chicago Bears (2): Jordan Lucas, Allen Robinson II
Dallas Cowboys (2): Sean Lee, Connor McGovern
Denver Broncos (2): DaeSean Hamilton, KJ Hamler 
Detroit Lions (3): Jason Cabinda, Jesse James, Amani Oruwariye
Green Bay Packers (1): Adrian Amos 
Houston Texans (1): John Reid 
Indianapolis Colts (1): Robert Windsor 
Las Vegas Raiders (2): Nick Bowers, Carl Nassib
Los Angeles Rams (1): Nick Scott
Miami Dolphins (1): Mike Gesicki
Minnesota Vikings (1): Dan Chisena 
New Orleans Saints (1): Blake Gillikin 
New York Giants (3): Saquon Barkley, Cam Brown, Austin Johnson
New York Jets (1): Sam Ficken, Chris Hogan, Ross Travis
Philadelphia Eagles (2): Miles Sanders, Trevor Williams, Shareef Miller
Pittsburgh Steelers (1): Marcus Allen, Stefen Wisniewski 
San Francisco 49ers (2): Kevin Givens, Robbie Gould 
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3): Chris Godwin, A.Q. Shipley, Donovan Smith 
Tennessee Titans (2): Jack Crawford, DaQuan Jones
Washington Football Team (1): Troy Apke 

Nittany Lions On NFL Coaching Staffs
Matt Rhule – Carolina Panthers Head Coach
Tom Bradley – Pittsburgh Steelers DBs Coach
Bobby Engram – Baltimore Ravens TEs Coach
Al Golden – Cincinnati Bengals LBs Coach
D’Anton Lynn – Houston Texans Secondary Coach
Mike Munchak – Denver Broncos OL Coach
Jeff Nixon – Carolina Panthers Senior Offensive Assistant

Penn Staters At The Next Level: Week 5

It was another impressive performance from Allen Robinson II, while Miles Sanders starred in his homecoming.

Here were this week’s standout Nittany Lion performers in the NFL for Week 5.

Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

Despite his team’s loss to the Steelers in the battle of Pennsylvania’s two teams, Sanders had a productive outing in his return to his native Pittsburgh.

Sanders collected his career-long rush with a 74-yard gallop to the end zone in the first quarter.

He posted a second touchdown midway through the second quarter by powering through a few defenders at the goal line to tie the score at 14. 

Sanders leads the Eagles in rushing yards with 316 on the season.

Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins

Photo By Steven Manuel

Speaking of career longs, Gesicki posted his longest NFL catch to date with a 70-yard catch on a beautifully run route against the 49ers.

Gesicki was tabbed by many to be a breakout player at the tight end position this season and he has not disappointed. He seems to be getting better each week and has developed a great rapport with Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. 

The former Penn State star is second on the team in receptions (18) and yards (281) this season. He’s also found the end zone twice.  

Allen Robinson II, WR, Chicago Bears

Photo By Steve Manuel

In a weekend full of upsets, Robinson II and the Chicago Bears got the party started on Thursday night football in a 20-19 upset over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

He was Nick Foles’ favorite target in the win, snagging 10 catches on 16 targets for 90 yards.

Robinson II currently sits sixth in the league with 35 receptions and eighth in receiving yards with 421. 

Not bad for a receiver playing for an offense that has struggled to move the ball with consistency early this season. 

Nittany Lions In The NFL
Baltimore Ravens (1): Trace McSorley
Buffalo Bills (1): Ryan Bates
Carolina Panthers (2): Yetur Gross-Matos, Shareef Miller 
Chicago Bears (2): Jordan Lucas, Allen Robinson II
Dallas Cowboys (2): Sean Lee, Connor McGovern
Denver Broncos (2): DaeSean Hamilton, KJ Hamler 
Detroit Lions (3): Jason Cabinda, Jesse James, Amani Oruwariye
Green Bay Packers (1): Adrian Amos 
Houston Texans (1): John Reid 
Indianapolis Colts (1): Robert Windsor 
Las Vegas Raiders (2): Nick Bowers, Carl Nassib
Los Angeles Rams (1): Nick Scott
Miami Dolphins (1): Mike Gesicki
Minnesota Vikings (1): Dan Chisena 
New Orleans Saints (1): Blake Gillikin 
New York Giants (3): Saquon Barkley, Cam Brown, Austin Johnson
New York Jets (1): Sam Ficken, Chris Hogan, Ross Travis
Philadelphia Eagles (2): Miles Sanders, Trevor Williams 
Pittsburgh Steelers (1): Marcus Allen, Stefen Wisniewski 
San Francisco 49ers (2): Kevin Givens, Robbie Gould 
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3): Chris Godwin, A.Q. Shipley, Donovan Smith 
Tennessee Titans (2): Jack Crawford, DaQuan Jones
Washington Football Team (1): Troy Apke 

Nittany Lions On NFL Coaching Staffs
Matt Rhule – Carolina Panthers Head Coach
Tom Bradley – Pittsburgh Steelers DBs Coach
Bobby Engram – Baltimore Ravens TEs Coach
Al Golden – Cincinnati Bengals LBs Coach
D’Anton Lynn – Houston Texans Secondary Coach
Mike Munchak – Denver Broncos OL Coach
Jeff Nixon – Carolina Panthers Senior Offensive Assistant