Penn State wins 20-10 on the strength of running back Tony Hunt and a surprising day by QB Anthony Morelli.
Here were my keys to the game:
- Can Tennessee running back LaMarcus Coker get to the edge for at least one long run against Penn State's run defense, which should otherwise shut UT down?
Uh, yes, sort of. It wasn't 80 yards, but it was long and for a TD, so I'll claim this one. UT's running game actually did much better than I thought it would, and Foster looked good and fast. Still prone to fumbling, though. We'll get to that later.
- # Can Penn State stop Ainge-in-Orange to Robert Meachem, Jayson Swain, whoever subs for Bret Smith, and Jeff Cottam?
Um. Yes. Not Swain, really, but Meachem was completely shut down. Another receiver (Swain, 82 yards), a tight end (Chris Brown, 71 yards), and a running back (Coker, 31 yards) all had more receiving yards than did Meach. The good news? Perhaps he'll come back to finish on a high note. Really missed Bret Smith.
- Will Ainge even get much of a chance on offense, or will PSU's Tony Hunt hog the ball for 75% of the time?
Worst fears realized. Hunt had 157 (or 158) yards. The Penn State offense had the ball for 33:02. When we had good opportunities, we blew them.
- Will Penn State QB Anthony Morelli throw a pick to each of the Jonathans?
Totally and completely wrong about this. Morelli had a career game and made no mistakes. He also picked on corner Antwan Stewart several times for several big plays.
Bottom line: UT's "advantage" in defending the pass did not pan out. UT's "advantage" in passing against PSU's defense also did not pan out. Coker played well, but did not get the ball enough (he averaged 7.2 yards per carry, but only carried five times), as Arian Foster got the bulk of the carries (12) and coughed up the game-losing fumble for a TD.
PSU made the most of their paper advantages, and UT squandered theirs.