Penn State-Georgia State Game Notes

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PENN STATE vs. GEORGIA STATE
 
Saturday, Sept. 16 | 7:30 p.m.
Beaver Stadium | University Park, Pa.
 
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Sept. 11, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 5 Penn State concludes its non-conference slate and season-opening homestand with a primetime contest against Georgia State in Beaver Stadium. Kick time Saturday is set for 7:30 p.m. on BTN.

Penn State looks to continue its strong start to the season in all three phases of the game. The Nittany Lion defense did not allow a touchdown in its first seven quarters and leads the nation with an average of 11.5 tackles for loss per game. The unit also leads the Big Ten and ranks seventh in FBS with an average of just 7.0 points per game allowed and ranks 17th overall in total defense, yielding just 250.5 yards per game. Penn State's punt units are among the best in the nation in both directions, as DeAndre Thompkins leads the Big Ten and ranks fifth in FBS with 22.6 yards per return, while the punt return defense boasts a net average return of 0.0.

On offense, running back Saquon Barkley continues to demonstrate his elite status as he leads the Big Ten and ranks second in the nation with 214.5 all-purpose yards per game. He and tight end Mike Gesicki have four touchdowns each, leaving Gesicki one score shy of tying the Penn State tight end career record.

It will be Penn State's first game against football newcomer Georgia State, which started its program in 2010. Georgia State is no stranger to tough competition though, annually facing top-tier FBS opponents and only narrowly falling to Wisconsin by six points last season. The Panthers lost their opener, but will be rested after a bye week. Georgia State will be the first team from the state of Georgia to visit Penn State since Georgia Tech in 1923.

The road and Big Ten play are next for the Nittany Lions, as they will open their nine-game conference slate at Iowa next week.

 

HEAD COACH SHAWN ELLIOTT

  • Shawn Elliott, formerly the co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at South Carolina, is in his first season as the head coach at Georgia State.
  • Elliott worked the last seven seasons at South Carolina under Will Muschamp and Steve Spurrier, highlighted by three consecutive 11-win seasons from 2011-13 during the most successful run in the Gamecocks' history. He served as the interim head coach following Spurrier's retirement midway through the 2015 season.
  • Before going to South Carolina in 2010, Elliott served 13 seasons as an assistant coach at Appalachian State. He was an integral part of App State's three consecutive NCAA titles from 2005-07, as well as the Mountaineers' historic upset at Michigan in 2007.

SCOUTING THE PANTHERS

  • Georgia State is in its eighth season of football and fifth as a member of the Sun Belt Conference. The Atlanta-based school began play in the Georgia Dome, but will now play in Georgia State Stadium, which was formerly Turner Field.
  • Georgia State has played a Power 5 conference team in seven of the program's eight seasons. Penn State is GSU's second Big Ten opponent after the Panthers fell to Wisconsin, 23-17, last season.  
  • Georgia State is playing its second game of the season after opening with a 17-10 loss to Tennessee State Aug. 31. It was the inaugural game at Georgia State Stadium and the debut for GSU head coach Shawn Elliott.
  • GSU quarterback Conner Manning completed 14-of -17 passes for 159 yards but left the game in the third quarter due to injury. Taz Bateman caught six passes for 74 yards and a touchdown and rushed 11 times for 31 yards.  

PENN STATE VS. THE PEACH STATE

  • The Georgia State game is Penn State's 10th all-time against a team from Georgia. The previous nine games were all against Georgia Tech (7) and Georgia (2).
  • The Nittany Lions are 5-4 against the two Georgia teams, with a 4-3 mark against Georgia Tech, a win over Georgia in the 1983 Sugar Bowl to clinch the 1982 National Championship and a loss to Georgia in the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl.
  • Penn State's last regular season game against a team from Georgia was the 1991 season opener, as No. 7 Penn State defeated No. 8 Georgia Tech, 34-22, in Giants Stadium.
  • The last time a team from Georgia visited Happy Valley was in 1923, when Penn State defeated Georgia Tech, 7-0 before a crowd of 10,000 in New Beaver Field.

PENN STATE VS. THE SUN BELT

  • Penn State is playing a Sun Belt Conference team for the third time in its history, however both of the teams the Nittany Lions played, FIU and Louisiana Tech, are now members of Conference USA.
  • When they were members of the Sun Belt, Penn State defeated Louisiana Tech, 67-7, in 2000 and FIU, 59-0, in 2007. 
  • The Nittany Lions have one previous game against the current alignment of the Sun Belt, facing Coastal Carolina in 2008. The Chanticleers were an FCS school at the time and are beginning their first season in the Sun Belt this year.
  • Penn State will face another Sun Belt team in 2018, opening the season by hosting Appalachian State.

PENN STATE-GEORGIA STATE CONNECTIONS

  • PSU junior wide receiver Christopher Welde and senior defensive tackle Curtis Cothran and Georgia State freshman offensive lineman Pat Bartlett all attended Council Rock North H.S. in Newtown, Pa. 

NITTANY LIONS FROM GEORGIA

LIONS UNDER THE LIGHTS

  • The 2017 season marks the 17th straight with at least one regular season night game on the schedule, and the 10th since 2000 with multiple night games in the same season.
  • The Georgia State game is Penn State's first prime time game of the season, and the Nittany Lions will stay in primetime the following week at Iowa.
  • It will mark the first time since 2014 that Penn State has played consecutive night games (at Michigan; vs. Ohio State).
  • The Georgia State and Iowa games are the only night games presently on the regular season schedule, but five of the nine remaining game times are to be determined.
  • Last season, Penn State went 4-0 in night games.
  • Most recently, the Lions rallied past No. 6 Wisconsin, 38-31 in the Big Ten Championship Game in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, to improve its night game record to 46-29.
  • All-time Penn State is 12-10 at home, 21-12 on the road and 13-7 in neutral site games. Penn State is 1-1 at regular season neutral sites, 11-6 in bowl games and 1-0 in conference championship games.
  • The 2016 Iowa game was Penn State's first regular season night game in November since Nov. 14, 1987 at Pitt, and the game against Rutgers (Nov.19) was the latest regular season night game since Nov. 23, 1985 at Pitt.
  • It was also the first time Penn State has played two primetime games in November.
  • Penn State opened its primetime slate with its annual White Out game against Ohio State. It was the eighth primetime clash since 2005 and the fifth consecutive. Penn State rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter against then-No. 2 Ohio State for a victory.
  • The Lions' night games since 2000 include: Ohio State, Iowa, Rutgers and Wisconsin (2016); Ohio State and Rutgers (2015); Boston College (Pinstripe Bowl), Ohio State, Michigan and Rutgers (2014); Ohio State, Michigan and UCF (2013); Iowa and Ohio State (2012); Northwestern (2011); Alabama, Iowa and Michigan (2010); Iowa (2009); Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio State (2008); Notre Dame, Ohio State and Texas A&M (2007), Michigan (2006), Illinois, Ohio State and Florida State (2005), Minnesota and Boston College (2004), Nebraska (2002 and `03), Miami (Fla.) (2001) and Indiana (2000).
  • On Oct. 12, 2013, the Nittany Lions claimed the longest game in Big Ten history when they edged Michigan under the lights, 43-40, in front of a sellout Beaver Stadium crowd of 107,844 on Homecoming.

POPULAR NITTANY LIONS

  • The attendance of 109,898 for the Pitt game was the seventh-largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history and the largest since Penn State faced Ohio State in 2009 in front of 110,033 in 2009.
  • It was the 15th-largest crowd to ever watch a Penn State football game.
  • The crowd set a record for the current configuration of Beaver Stadium, which has had a capacity of 106,572 since 2011.
  • The Penn State Student Section sold out more than 21,000 tickets in just 89 minutes, highlighted by the sold-out allotments of the senior (20), junior (10) and freshmen (15) classes in less than 20 minutes each.
  • The Penn State Student Section has consistently sold out for four decades, showing the unwavering passion and dedication of Penn State students. 
  • Penn State sold more than 9,000 new season football tickets for the 2017 campaign. The season ticket renewal rate topped 95 percent to help the Nittany Lions exhaust their season ticket allotment for the first time since 2008.

TOP FIVE

  • Entering Week 3, Penn State is ranked No. 5 in both the Associated Press and USA Today/Amway Coaches Polls.
  • The No. 5 ranking marks the second consecutive week Penn State has been ranked in the Top Five of both polls - a feat not accomplished since the third and fourth weeks of 2009.

HOME IN HAPPY VALLEY

  • Penn State's nine-game home win streak is tied for the longest active streak in FBS.
  • The Nittany Lions went 7-0 at home in 2016 for the first time since 2008 and the fifth time in the Big Ten era (1994, 1998, 2005, 2008, 2016). 
  • Penn State's nine-game home winning streak is the longest since winning 11-straight from 2007-09 and is the fifth-longest since joining the Big Ten Conference.
  • Dating back to 2015, Penn State has won 15 out of its last 16 home games.

STREAKING

  • Penn State QB Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley both have active touchdown streaks that rank among longest in FBS.
  • Barkley is tied with USC's Ronald Jones for the longest active streak of games with a rushing TD at nine.
  • It is the longest streak at Penn State since Larry Johnson had 11 games in a row with a rushing touchdown in 2002.
  • McSorley has thrown a touchdown pass in 17 consecutive games, dating to the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl, extending his Penn State record.
  • McSorley's consecutive games with a touchdown pass streak is the third-longest active streak in FBS.

23 - Chase Litton, Marshall
18 - Brent Stocksill, Middle Tennessee
17 - Trace McSorley, Penn State
14 - David Blough, Purdue

DISCIPLINED

  • Penn State has been one of the most disciplined teams through the first two weeks of the season, averaging just 3.0 penalties per game to lead the Big Ten and rank in a tie for third in FBS.
  • Navy leads the country with 1.0 per game and Fresno State is second with 2.0 per game, while Ball State, South Alabama, Pitt and Arizona State are all tied with the Nittany Lions at 3.0.
  • Penn State had five penalties in the season opener against Akron, but just one against Pitt.

BARKLEY IN THE RECORD BOOKS

  • Running back Saquon Barkley has placed his name all over the Penn State record books. 
  • Barkley's 88 rushing yards against Pitt give him 2,832 for his career, which moves him into ninth place at Penn State. He passed Matt Suhey (2,818) and Ki-Jana Carter (2,829) in the Pitt game, and trails Lydell Mitchell (2,934 yards) for eighth place.
  • Barkley rushed for 172 yards in the season opener against Akron, which marked the 11th 100-yard rushing game of his career and is tied for 10th place at Penn State with D.J. Dozier and Zach Zwinak.
  • Barkley is one of just eight Nittany Lions to post multiple 200-yard rushing games.
  • Barkley is one rushing touchdown shy of cracking the Top Five career list at Penn State. Currently totaling 28 career rushing touchdowns, which is good for eighth place in the Penn State annals, he trails three players for fifth place with 29 career rushing touchdowns.
  • Barkley had 183 all-purpose yards against Pitt (88 rushing, 45 receiving and 50 return), which gives him 3,638 for his career (2,832 rushing, 662 receiving, 144 return), to rank 13th at Penn State. Ahead of him in 12th place is John Cappelletti with 3,735 all-purpose yards (2,639 rushing, 207 receiving, 889 return).
  • Barkley's 12 points against Pitt give him 204 for his career, tying him for 11th place at Penn State with Ki-Jana Carter. Barkley trails Massimo Manca and Larry Johnson, who are tied for ninth place with 206 points.
  • Barkley had the 10th multi-touchdown game of his career with two scores against Pitt.
  • In the season opener against Akron, Barkley's two rushing touchdowns marked his seventh multiple-rushing touchdown game (2 as a freshman, 4 as a sophomore, 1 as a junior). 

BARKLEY ALL-PURPOSE

  • Saquon Barkley is doing it all this season, from running to pass catching to returning, and he ranks second in FBS with 214.5 all-purpose yards per game through two weeks.
  • Barkley is trailing San Diego State's Rashaad Penny, who is averaging 284.0 all-purpose yards through the first two weeks. Iowa's Akrum Wadley (203.0) is the only other FBS player to currently average more than 200 all-purpose yards.
  • Barkley totaled 183 all-purpose yards (88 rushing, 45 receiving, 50 returning) in his most recent outing against Pitt. The totals included a career-long 46-yard reception on a touchdown grab in the third quarter. He was named to the Paul Hornung Weekly Honor Role for his efforts, which recognizes athletes that show outstanding versatility in college football each week.
  • With 246 yards, Barkley totaled the second-most FBS all-purpose yards in the opening week, earning 172 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns, 54 yards on three receptions and 20 yards on a kickoff return against Akron. His rushing total of 172 yards ranked 13th for the week.
  • His four total touchdowns rank in ties for first in the Big Ten and 10th in FBS.

PICKING UP CHUNKS - BARKLEY

  • Saquon Barkley is among the leaders in long scrimmage plays and long rushing plays.
  • Barkley leads the Big Ten and ranks tied for third in FBS with six scrimmage plays of 20 or more yards. He is also one of seven players in FBS to tally an 80-yard play this season.
  • Barkley is tied for the Big Ten lead with Maryland's Ty Johnson and ranks tied for fourth in FBS with four rushing plays of 20 or more yards. He is also one of two players in FBS to tally an 80-yard rush this season.
  • Barkley leads the Big Ten and ranks seventh in FBS averaging 9.29 yards per carry and his 130.0 rushing yards per game are third in the Big Ten and 17th in FBS.

HIGH SCORING

  • Against Pitt, Penn State scored 30 or more points for the ninth consecutive game, marking the longest stretch for the Lions since a string of 15-straight games with 30+ points from 1993-94.
  • It is also the ninth consecutive game Penn State has scored 33 or more points, which is a program record.
  • Penn State has scored 217 points (43.4 ppg) in the last five games, which is its most since scoring 249 (49.8 ppg) in a five-game span in 2008 (first 5 games).
  • Penn State has scored 428 points (42.8 ppg) in the last 10 games, which is its most since scoring 455 (45.5 ppg) in a 10-game span over the last 7 games of 1994 and first 3 games of 1995.
  • Penn State's scoring average of 42.5 points per game ranks 23rd in FBS and third in the Big Ten.
  • Penn State continued its high scoring ways from 2016 in the season opener, as the Nittany Lions totaled 52 points against Akron, which were the most since scoring 62 last year at Purdue.
  • It was Penn State's eighth consecutive game scoring more than 35 points, a school record. It was the longest active 35-point streak among Power 5 teams. The previous longest such streak for the Nittany Lions was seven games in 1973.
  • In the Akron game, the Nittany Lions scored 50 or more points in a game at home for the first time since scoring 52 vs. Eastern Illinois in 2009. It was also the first time scoring 50 or more at home vs. an FBS team since a 59-0 win over FIU in the 2007 season opener.
  • The 52-point margin of victory over Akron was the largest for the Nittany Lions since defeating Coastal Carolina 66-10 (56 points) in 2008.
  • Penn State averaged 37.7 points per game in 2016, which is its highest scoring rate since averaging 38.9 points per game for the 2008 season that also concluded in Pasadena.

OFFENSE COVERING GROUND

  • The Nittany Lions' 569 yards of total offense (322 passing, 247 rushing) against Akron were the most for Penn State since recording 599 yards total offense last season vs. Iowa.
  • The 569 yards of total offense were also the most in a season opener since the Nittany Lions gained 594 yards against Coastal Carolina in 2008.
  • Penn State's offense averaged 432.6 yards per game last season, which was its most since the 2013 season (433.2).

PICKING UP CHUNKS - TEAM

  • According to cfbstats.com, Penn State is among the national and Big Ten leaders in "chunk plays" of 20 yards or more.
  • Penn State ranks in the top-25 nationally in plays of 20, 30, 60 or 80 or more yards. Penn State is the only team in the Big Ten with an 80-yard play this season.

FAST START

  • Penn State has scored 14 points in the first quarter in each of its first two games, a feat not accomplished since 2008 against Oregon State (14) and Syracuse (21). Penn State actually scored 14 points in the opening stanza in three consecutive games to start that season (14 vs. Coastal Carolina; 14 vs. Oregon State; 21 at Syracuse.)
  • Penn State was known as a second-half team in 2016, only scoring more points in the first half than in the second half on three occasions. However, Penn State was able to get off to one of its best starts in recent years against Akron in the season opener.
  • Against Akron, Penn State scored 35 points in the first half of a game for the first time since scoring 38 against Eastern Illinois on the way to a 52-3 victory in 2009. It was also the first time that the Nittany Lions scored 35 in a first half against an FBS team since scoring 38 at Syracuse in 2008, a game that Penn State won 55-13.
  • Furthermore, the 35 points scored by the Nittany Lions in the first half against Akron were the most in the first half of a season opener since scoring 38 vs. Coastal Carolina in 2008. It was the most by Penn State against an FBS team in a season-opening first half since scoring 41 against Akron in 2004 on the way to a 48-10 win.
  • Penn State's 14 points in the opening stanza of the first game were the most by the Nittany Lions in the first quarter of the opening game since scoring 14 against Indiana State in 2011, on the way to a 41-7 victory.

TOSSING TOUCHDOWNS

  • In addition to his streak of 17-straight games with a touchdown pass, McSorley has two or more touchdown passes in five-straight games, dating back to the regular season finale against Michigan State last year. He has two or more TD passes in eight of the last nine games.
  • His five touchdown passes on the season rank second in the Big Ten and tied for 16th in FBS.
  • McSorley is averaging 18.0 points responsible for per game to rank second in the Big Ten and 16th in FBS. 
  • Against Pitt, McSorley threw for at least three touchdown passes for the fifth time in his career and first time this season.
  • McSorley threw four touchdowns in each of his last three games in 2016 (Michigan State, Big Ten Championship Game - Wisconsin and Rose Bowl - USC) to become the first Big Ten QB to throw four touchdowns in three straight games since J.T. Barrett (OSU) in 2014. The total (12) was more than any other FBS QB threw in the final three games.
  • McSorley threw TD passes to 10 different receivers in 2016, marking the first time since 1971 a Penn State quarterback found 10-plus pass catchers for scores. 

McSORLEY CLIMBING CHARTS

  • Trace McSorley added three more touchdown passes against Pitt, increasing his total to 36 for his career to move within one TD pass of tying Chuck Fusina for eighth place (37) at Penn State in the category.
  • McSorley had 229 yards of total offense against Pitt (164 passing, 65 rushing) which gives him 4,764 for his career (4,243 passing, 521 rushing). He trails Todd Blackledge (4,911 - 4,812 passing, 99 rushing) for 10th place in Penn State history.
  • McSorley's 280 passing yards in the opener give him 12 200-yard passing games for his career, which is good for sole possession of sixth place at Penn State. He trails Daryll Clark, who had 14 200-yard passing games.

QUARTERBACKS DOING IT ALL

  • QB Tommy Stevens has a reception in each of the first two games in this season.
  • Stevens saw action in the second half against Akron and had career highs for completions, attempts and passing yards with three completions on six attempts for 42 yards. Stevens had a 26-yard pass in the fourth quarter, tying a career-long completion. Stevens also rushed four times for 17 yards and a touchdown. 
  • Against Akron, Trace McSorley had his eighth career game with both a touchdown pass and rush.
  • McSorley's 36-yard rush in the opening stanza against Pitt was the longest of his career. His previous long rush was a 26-yard scamper against Minnesota in 2016.
  • McSorley is averaging 5.7 yards per carry to rank seventh in the BIg Ten and 49th in the country.

HIGH SCHOOL TO COLLEGE

  • The tandem of QB Trace McSorley and WR Brandon Polk is one of 13 QB/WR combinations from the same high school active on the same team in FBS. Both attended Briar Woods High School in Ashburn, Virginia.
  • In 2013, McSorley and Polk teamed up to lead the Falcons to the Virginia 5A State Championship game. The duo totaled 635 yards receiving and eight touchdowns.
  • Polk has three receptions from McSorley, catching two passes last season in an injury shortened redshirt year, and hauling in an 18-yard reception against Pitt this season.

HAMILTON HAULING IT IN

  • WR DaeSean Hamilton is poised to become one of Penn State's all-time leading receivers.
  • Hamilton had three catches against Pitt, giving him 167 for his career, which ties him for third place with Bobby Engram in the Penn State annals. He trails Allen Robinson (177 catches) for second place.
  • Hamilton has 2,098 receiving yards for his career, which ranks him sixth at Penn State. He trails Derek Moye (2,395 receiving yards) for fifth place.
  • Hamilton is the ninth player in program history with 2,000 career receiving yards.

GESICKI OUT OF THE GATE

  • TE Mike Gesicki has caught a touchdown pass in five consecutive games, dating to last year's regular season finale against Michigan State.
  • Gesicki has four or more catches in nine of his last 14 games.
  • Gesicki entered 2017 with six career touchdowns over three seasons, but has caught a career-high two in each of the first two games this season to move within one of the Penn State record for career touchdown catches by a tight end - 11 by Jesse James.
  • His four total touchdowns rank in ties for first in the Big Ten and 10th in FBS.
  • Gesicki's 39 receiving yards against Pitt give him 1,015 for his career, making him the 25th player and fourth person to have more than 1,000 career receiving yards at Penn State.
  • Gesicki ranks 25th on Penn State's career receiving yards chart, just one yard behind Mickey Shuler (1,016) for 24th.
  • After a breakout season in 2016, Gesicki, picked up where he left off with a career day in the season opener.
  • Gesicki had a career-high six catches against Akron. His previous high was five on four occasions, the last against Rutgers in 2016.

LIMITED ACCESS

  • Penn State leads the Big Ten and ranks seventh in FBS in scoring defense with an average of 7.0 points allowed per game after shutting out Akron in the season opener and yielding just 14 points to Pitt.
  • The 14 points allowed by Penn State in the first two games are the fewest allowed in the opening two games of the season since giving up 14 in the first two games of the 2009 (31-7 win vs. Akron and 28-7 win vs. Syracuse).
  • The fourth-quarter touchdown allowed by the Nittany Lions to Pitt was the first touchdown given up by Penn State this season (seven quarters with no touchdowns).
  • Not only was Akron held out of the end zone, Penn State kept the Zips out of the red zone.
  • The shutout by Penn State of Akron marked the first shutout by the Nittany Lions in a season opener since a 59-0 win against FIU in 2007. The shutout was the first at home for Penn State since a 39-0 shutout of Illinois in 2015.
  • This is the third straight year that Penn State has shut out an opponent (39-0 vs. Illinois in 2015; 39-0 at Rutgers in 2016; 52-0 vs. Akron in 2017). It is the longest such streak since a three-year stretch from 1989-91 (17-0 at Rutgers in 1989; 28-0 vs. Rutgers and 9-0 at Alabama in 1990; and 81-0 vs. Cincinnati in 1991).

STOPS BEHIND THE LINE

  • Penn State has assumed a familiar position in the NCAA statistical rankings, leading FBS in tackles for loss with an average of 11.5.
  • Penn State totaled 14 TFLs against Akron in the season opener, the most by Penn State since recording 15 at Temple in 2015, and followed with nine against Pitt.
  • DT Tyrell Chavis had a career-best three tackles for loss to lead the Lions in the opener, while DE Shareef Miller has also totaled 3.0 in the first two games. Both are tied for fifth in the Big Ten in the category.
  • A total of 19 different Nittany Lions have at least assisted on a stop in the back field.
  • Penn State finished 2016 tied for seventh in FBS and second in the Big Ten with 8.1 tackles for loss per game.
  • Penn State finished 2015 sixth overall and tops in the Big Ten with 8.2 tackles for loss per game. 
  • Penn State finished 2014 20th overall and second in the Big Ten with 7.1 tackles for loss per game.

SAFETY FOR A SAFETY

  • One way for a defense to help itself is to score points of its own, and safety Marcus Allen did just that with a safety in the fourth quarter against Pitt.
  • It was the first Penn State safety since Devon Still notched a sack in the end zone at Minnesota in 2010.
  • Allen had 13 tackles on the day, his eighth career game with 10 or more tackles, and the first since the Big Ten Championship Game last year vs. Wisconsin.
  • Allen's 12 tackles give him 264 for his career, which moves him into 11th place at Penn State. Allen trails Brandon Short's 273 tackles for 10th place.

AIR DEFENSE

  • With three interceptions in two games, Penn State leads the Big Ten and ranks 10th in FBS. 
  • Penn State picked off two passes against Pitt. CB Grant Haley intercepted a first-quarter pass at the 50 and returned it 42 yards to the Pitt 8, setting up a one play touchdown drive, while S Troy Apke intercepted a pass in the second quarter. It was Haley's fourth career interception and Apke's second. Ironically enough, both DBs had parents that attended Pitt.
  • Haley's 42-yard interception return was the longest of his career, besting his 30-yard return vs. Temple in 2014.
  • CB Amani Oruwariye grabbed the second interception of his career in the first quarter of the season opener against Akron. His first career interception came in last year's season opener against Kent State.
  • In addition to the two interceptions against Pitt, Penn State broke up seven passes, its most since breaking up nine last season against Indiana.
  • CB Christian Campbell leads the team with four pass breakups, recording two in each of the first two games.

SACK MASTERS

  • The Penn State defense is continuing to find the quarterback, averaging 4.0 sacks through the first two games to rank 10th in FBS and third in the Big Ten.
  • The five sacks recorded by the Nittany Lions against Pitt are the most since Penn State had six last season vs. Ohio State.
  • DE Shareef Miller tied a career high with two sacks against Pitt. CB Grant Haley also notched the first sack of his career in the opening frame, while LB Koa Farmer also tallied one and DT Robert Windsor earned one with a strip sack and his first career fumble recovery.
  • With 46 sacks in 2015 and 40 sacks last season, Penn State posted back-to-back 40-sack seasons for the first time since it posted three-consecutive 40-sack seasons in 2005 (41), 2006 (40) and 2007 (46).
  • In 2015, led by a record 15.5 sacks by Carl Nassib,  Penn State posted 46 sacks.
  • Despite only returning 41.3 percent of the sack production from the previous year, the Nittany Lions got to the quarterback 40 times last season.
  • Kevin Givens is Penn State's returning sack leader, with 4.5 quarterback drops last season. Penn State returns 52.5 percent of its sack production.

PUNT AT YOUR OWN PERIL

  • Penn State is averaging 20.1 yards per punt return to rank 10th in FBS and second in the Big Ten.
  • Punt returner DeAndre Thompkins leads the Big Ten and ranks fifth in the nation with an average of 22.6 yards per return.
  • Thompkins 61-yard punt return for a touchdown against Akron was the first by Penn State since Derrick Williams had a 63-yard return in 2008 at Wisconsin. It was also the first by the Nittany Lions in Beaver Stadium since Williams returned a punt 78 yards for a score against Notre Dame in 2007.
  • Thompkins averaged 31.8 yards on four returns vs. the Zips, which is a school record. The previous record was 31.7 yards per return by Derrick Williams vs. Temple in 2006.

MIGHT AS WELL PUNT

  • Penn State's punt return defense has netted 0.0 yards allowed in the first two games, good enough to tie for the Big Ten lead and rank sixth in FBS.
  • P Blake Gillikin had a career-best four punts inside the 20-yard line against Pitt. Previously, he had three punts inside the 20 twice last season.
  • Gillikin's 44.9-yard average ranks fourth in the Big Ten and 22nd in FBS.

 

 

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