Neil Rudel

Franklin shows Terps what could have been

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — This was James Franklin’s first trip back to the University of Maryland campus since 2010, when the announced vision called for the Terrapins’ program to be turned over to him. In 2009, Maryland named Franklin its “coach-in-waiting” to be Ralph Friedgen’s ...

Pitt’s upset of Miami does Penn State a favor

If Penn State needed advance notice on how teams whose seasons seem dead in the water can be dangerous — especially at home and especially against an old, familiar opponent — Pitt delivered that warning loudly and clearly on Friday afternoon at Heinz Field. The Panthers’ victory over ...

Programs show they’re currently very far apart

UNIVERSITY PARK — In case you got a little confused Saturday by the red and white uniforms on Beaver Stadium’s visiting sideline, while Penn State was stunningly leading 42-10 late in the first half, rest assured those uniforms were being occupied by Nebraska and not Rutgers. And that may ...

Despite declining stats, Barkley still leads PSU

UNIVERSITY PARK — It was midway through the second quarter Saturday, and Penn State’s running game was once again going nowhere. With just one first down and 11 yards rushing in the first quarter, the Nittany Lions trailed their old Eastern cousin Rutgers, 6-0, and though the ultimate ...

Losses can take toll on Nits’ engagement

Any team that climbs to No. 2 and sees itself in the national championship picture only to stumble twice and shatter its dreams can struggle with late-season disengagement. It’s natural. Penn State seems to have excellent leadership, from James Franklin to Saquon Barkley to Trace ...

PSU plays like it’s afraid of heights

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Just eight days ago, Penn State, ranked No. 2 for the first time since 1999, stood in the rarified air of the college football world and allowed itself to take a long, deep breath from the same mountaintop as Alabama. And man was it exhilarating — while it ...

Knockout punch belongs to OSU

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Just when it appeared that Penn State was about ready to take the torch from Ohio State as the Big Ten’s flagship program, the Nittany Lions were dealt a cruel reality that will be forever etched in their craw. Penn State came into hallowed Ohio Stadium unbeaten, the ...

Buckeyes might be rested, but they’re not better team

In August, I picked the Nittany Lions to go 10-2 this season and have yet to pick against them so far. My fellow NitWit, Mike Irwin, used to pull this regularly, rolling out an optimistic 10-2 or 11-1 preseason prognostication and then never quite coming up with the one or two losses when it ...

Lions’ performance matches atmosphere

UNIVERSITY PARK — James Franklin’s tenure hasn’t completed four years yet, but it’s already produced some memorable games. Ohio State last year. The Big Ten championship comeback against Wisconsin. The current collective stretch — 16 wins in the last 17 games with the lone loss an ...

PSU showcasing new breed of ‘D’

EVANSTON, Ill. — Penn State’s offense took the Big Ten and the nation by storm a year ago and returned almost all of their key parts going into 2017. Through the offseason, the questions almost all were on the defensive side of the ball. Wouldn’t you know it: As the season hit its ...

Hack’s contributions immeasurable

In less than two years as a starter — just 19 games to be exact — Trace McSorley has established himself as one of the most prolific quarterbacks in Penn State history. There’s no doubt he fits James Franklin’s offense better than Christian Hackenberg, and there’s little doubt that ...

Secondary has sprung leaks

When a team is 4-0 and ranked No. 4 in the country, there aren’t an abundance of big concerns. Certainly, the field goal operation — snapper, holder, placekicker — is one as Tyler Davis is no longer automatic. Four times from within 41 yards he’s either missed or had his field goal ...

Lions deliver another classic

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The road to the Big Ten championship still runs through State College. The Iowa Hawkeyes — always game and especially so here at night — did more than threaten to knock the Nittany Lions off their perch Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium. They actually grabbed the ...

Lions have room for growth

Since the Nittany Lions outscored their three non-conference opponents, 141-14, the answer to this week’s question is obvious. Or is it? Certainly Penn State’s 3-0 start has been successful, but whether it fully prepared the Lions for what lies ahead will not be determined until the ...

PSU now 3-0, but road just starting

UNIVERSITY PARK — OK, let’s get to the real thing. Penn State’s non-conference/exhibition season is over, and to the surprise of no one, the Nittany Lions will enter Big Ten play unscathed at 3-0 following Saturday night’s 56-0 demolition of Georgia State. Based on the way Penn ...

Penn State report card

Following is Neil Rudel’s report card from Penn State’s 33-14 victory over Pitt on Saturday at Beaver Stadium: POSITION GRADE COMMENT Quarterback C McSorley went 15-28 for 164 yards, three TDs and one pick and didn’t have his best game. Missed several open targets high. ...

PSU leaves itself wanting more

UNIVERSITY PARK — Trailing 33-14 at its own 25 with 3:34 remaining and down to one timeout left, Pitt seemed to raise the white flag Saturday by running the football on first down. James Franklin, at that point, had other ideas: He immediately decided to call timeout. So if you left here ...

Pitt series never will be matched

Ohio State is now a bigger game than Pitt, of course, and always will be unless the Panthers someday enter the Big Ten, and that ship has probably sailed for our lifetime. But that doesn’t mean the Buckeyes are a bigger rival, especially among the fans who make rivalries what they ...

Lions answer call for faster start

UNIVERSITY PARK — Of all the things that far exceeded expectations during Penn State’s stunning march to the 2016 Big Ten championship, the Nittany Lions’ ability to start games quickly wasn’t one of them. In fact, their 11-3 record came despite repeated late alarms. The Lions ...

Moorhead doesn’t miss deep shot at critics

UNIVERSITY PARK — Of all the great recruiting James Franklin has done since arriving here, a case can be made that no one has made a bigger one-year splash than Joe Moorhead. Never mind that he’s not a player but the Nittany Lions’ offensive coordinator. Moorhead took a dormant ...