The rivalry between Penn State and Pittsburgh was worth the wait, if you are a fan of the Pitt Panthers. The first half was a dominating show of pure physical advantages against the Nittany Lions from the jump, as the Panthers have built a dominating looking 28-14 halftime lead. Pittsburgh had dominated the first half of the ballgame, but Penn State cut the lead to 14 points with a late first-half touchdown, which they hope will spark a momentum shift.
Penn State’s offense came out looking to establish some quick momentum on the opening drive, but opted to punt when the drive stalled at the Pittsburgh 35-yard line. Brilliant special teams coverage led to the Nittany Lions downing the ball at the one-yard line. That seemed like a good thing for Penn State, but then Pitt went on to execute a 10-play, 99-yard touchdown drive using a little bit of everything for the first score of the afternoon. James Conner ran for nearly 30 yards right down the middle of Penn State’s defense. Pitt used sweeps to take advantage on the edges. In all, Pitt piled up 98 rushing yards on the drive, and that doesn’t include overcoming a holding penalty along the way.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley would fumble the very next offensive play for the Nittany Lions on the ensuing possession, with the Panthers setting up shop right from the Penn State 12-yard line. Two plays later, it was 14-0 Panthers after Nathan Peterman completed a pass to Quadree Henderson.
Pitt would go on to pad their lead after Penn State got on the scoreboard shortly after a big special teams return. Saquon Barkley powered his way into the end zone on a short-yardage situation by the goal line, but the story of the first half has been the athletic advantage Pitt has, especially up front. Pitt has over 200 rushing yards at the half as well, and big plays have been used all afternoon so far by the Panthers.