The lead would be short-lived, but one thing was clear in the Bulls 45-13. Buffalo came to play in front of 110,000 fans in the nations second biggest venue.
The scoreboard isnt indicative of how Buffalos offense fared against the Nittany Lion defensive front. The Bulls outgained Penn State 430-359 in the yardage department. Quarterback Matt Myers proved his readiness for the grand stage with 236 passing yards while the halfback duo of Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks combined for 144 rushing yards.
This marks Reids second interception in just two games to start the 2019 season. It could be a special season for the redshirt senior.
Penn State jumped out to a 7-0 lead after Marks fumbled in Buffalo territory. It didnt take long for Nittany Lion quarterback to find wide receiver Jahan Dotson in the end zone from 28 yards out. But for the final 8:50 of the first quarter and the entirety of the second, Buffalos defense reigned supreme and shut out the Big Ten foe.
Whatever was said at half, Penn State got the message. The Nittany Lions drove down the field quickly on the first possession of the second half before a Ricky Slade fumble gave the ball back to Buffalo. Just moments later, however, John Reid picked off a Matt Myers pass and returned it for a touchdown to give the Nittany Lions a 14-10 lead.
Buffalo capped an 8:34 drive with an Alex McNulty field goal, and after forcing two punts, the Bulls would take over on their own 4-yard line for the final drive of the half. On a drive propelled by long receptions by Antonio Nunn and Zac Lefebvre, Buffalo found itself inside the Penn State 10 with under 15 seconds until halftime. Thats when Myers found an open Julien Bourassa in the end zone to secure an improbable 10-7 lead heading into halftime.
They made it 21-10 not long after one a 23-yard seed from Clifford to Pat Freiermuth down the seam. Noah Cain added a 2-yard plunge and Freiermuth had a tremendous individual effort on a 28-yard score to give PSU a 35-13 lead after three.
Unrest resonated through the State College crowd during the halftime break, and the miscues continued for Penn State. Running back Ricky Slade coughed up the ball in Buffalo territory on the initial drive of the third quarter. But then Buffalo made one mistake that it could never recover from — the surefire turning point of the evening.
On 3rd-and-6, Myers looked to Nunns direction on a curl route. While the ball floated through the air, Penn State cornerback John Reid jumped the pattern and sprinted 37 yards straight down the field for the go-ahead score. Penn State led 14-10, and Buffalo would never recapture the lead.
A three-and-out and favorable Nittany Lion field position set up a 23-yard touchdown reception for tight end Pat Freiermuth. While Buffalo notched a field goal on its ensuing possession to keep the game at one score, Penn State responded with quarterback mobility. Clifford ran down the sideline 58 yards before getting tripped up at the 2, and Noah Cain punched it in to create a 28-13 lead for the Nittany Lions.
John Reid delivered in a key moment for Penn State that turned the tables. Trailing by four points against Buffalo in the second half, the veteran Penn State defensive back picked off a Matt Myers pass and took it 36 yards for a touchdown. He also gave No. 15 Penn State a 14-10 lead in the game. It is the second pick of the young season for Reid.
Penn State scored two more touchdowns on long catch-and-runs. The first one went 28 yards to the tight end Freiermuth (8 receptions, 100 yards) on a fourth down conversion. The second was twice as long, as Dotson (4 receptions, 109 yards) scored his second touchdown of the night from 56 yards out.
While Buffalo escaped the game with valuable experience against a Top 15 opponent, it also left the game with several injuries. Lefebvre, who caught two passes for 32 yards, left the game in the second half and watched from the sidelines on crutches. But the scariest injury of the night struck the punter Evan Finegan. After Penn State running back Journey Brown tipped Finegans punt, the punter suffered a nasty collision and left the game on a cart with a broken leg. Backup quarterback Kyle Vantrease picked up punting duties for the Bulls for the remainder of the night.
One of Buffalos breakout performers in Happy Valley was wide receiver Antonio Nunn. Nunn seemed to slice and dice Penn States zone coverage on his way to career highs in catches (5) and yards (111).
This didnt start out as it was going to be an easy game for the Lions, certainly not on the level of Idaho. The Bulls proved that in the first half when they controlled the football, running 46 plays to 20 for Penn State and outgaining their hosts 270 yards to 82. The frustrated fans showered the Lions with boos as they headed to the South tunnel trailing, 10-7.
But the Bulls couldnt contain the Nittany Lions wideouts either. Clifford finished the day completing 72.7% of his throws for 280 yards and four touchdowns. Many of Cliffords yards were picked up after the catch, and Buffalo struggled with tackling Penn States wideouts in the open field.
Despite providing an upset scare through two quarters, Buffalo falls to 1-1 after falling to Penn State in a lopsided second half. The Bulls continue their non-conference slate in Lynchburg, VA, with a visit to the house of Hugh Freezes Liberty Flames.
Share All sharing options Share All sharing options for: Five Key Takeaways from Penn States Win Against Buffalo Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports The Nittany Lions werent ready for Buffalo: It was pretty evident early on in the game that Penn State was not ready for the Buffalo Bulls. It was surely a first half to forget for the Nittany Lions. That being said, whatever was said at halftime certainly worked as it was all Penn State in the second half.
The first half and the eventual second half domination had a very 2016 Penn State feel to it. Were not saying 2019 is going to be like the 2016 season, but you couldve easily put this game into the 2016 season and it wouldve fit right in.
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Sean Clifford was one of the few players that looked solid throughout the entire game. Clifford looked a lot better against Buffalo than he did against Idaho, showing solid accuracy and touch on his passes while also having good command of the offense. He has to work on a few things, such as leaving the pocket a bit too early, but overall it was a good progression from week one for the signal caller.
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Watch: Penn State cornerback John Reid records a pick-6 to ignite a Lions rally
Clifford finished with a final line of 17 of 23 for 280 yards and four touchdowns. For the season, hes 30 of 46 for 560 yards and six touchdowns. Hes had a tremendous start to say the least.
I am still waiting for someone to give me a solid argument that Freiermuth is not the best tight end in the country. Moose, as we love to call him around here, had a great game with seven receptions on the evening for 83 yards and two touchdowns. Theres no reason that going forward that he shouldnt be one of the Nittany Lions top receiving targets week in and week out.Wide receiver Jahan Dotson also deserves a shoutout for his performance on Saturday. The sophomore out of Nazareth, Pennsylvania had four receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
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Penn State uses strong 2nd half to roll past Buffalo
While the passing game was solid for the Nittany Lions, the run game was anything but. The Nittany Lions offense couldnt get anything going on the ground, picking up just 89 yards 22 carries. Clifford led the team in carries and yards with 11 for 49. Ricky Slade struggled in his brief time on the field, putting the ball on the ground twice, including one that was recovered by Buffalo. Journey Brown looked solid, finding a bit of room between the tackles. True freshmen Noah Cain and Devyn Ford had just two carries combined, with Cain taking his single carry into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown.
Nobody expected Penn State to be down at halftime against Buffalo, especially at home and under the lights. However, that was exactly the case, as the Bulls dominated the line of scrimmage and took a three-point lead into the break. Fortunately, the Nittany Lions woke up and took over in the second half.
Both the offensive and defensive line struggled mightily against Buffalo, which is quite concerning. The offensive line looked good for the most part against the Idaho Vandals in week one but had some struggles then as well. Against Buffalo, the Nittany Lions struggled to run the ball outside of a 58-yard run by Clifford. Clifford aso had to avoid pressure from the Bulls on a number of occasions.
The defensive lines struggles were a bit shocking as well. While the Bulls had an experienced offensive line, the defensive line couldnt get anything going, barely getting pressure on Buffalo quarterback Matt Myers. The defensive line also struggled to get to Buffalo ball carriers behind the line. There were a few players who looked good on the line in the game, however, including defensive tackles Damion Barber and PJ Mustipher.
We have a bonus takeaway here and its probably cheating, but in the end it appears Penn State is not as good as its 79-7 demolition of Idaho shows and not as bad as it looked at times against Buffalo. There are certainly things to clean up before they start Big Ten play but at this point theres no reason to believe they couldnt compete for the Big Ten East this season. Right now, it seems Ohio State is well above everyone else, but the rest of the East certainly shouldnt scare Penn State. Saturday served as a test for a rather young and inexperienced Penn State team. The Nittany Lions will face their fair share of adversity down the road, and getting their first taste of it out of the way early and responding the way they did after halftime is a good sign for this 2019 Penn State team.