No. 15 Penn State rolls into meeting with Buffalo

Field Level Media

September 03, 2019 at 7:04 am.

No. 15 Penn State, after cruising to a season-opening 79-7 win over Idaho, will get a more difficult test Saturday when Buffalo visits University Park, Pa.

The Bulls easily handled Robert Morris 38-10 in their opener, following a season in which they won a school-record 10 games under head coach Lance Leipold.

Certainly, Penn State’s schedule will stiffen further in coming weeks, but it’s one step at a time for now, and there was a lot to like about the first step. The 72-point win over Idaho was the first career start for Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford, who was 14 of 23 for 280 yards and two touchdowns in just two-plus quarters.

The Nittany Lions racked up 673 yards of offense.

“Especially with so much talent and how the line played (Saturday), it gives me a lot of confidence,” Clifford said. “I think overall the offense played pretty well. … When you score 79 points, it’s not a bad day in the office.”

Five running backs rushed for at least one touchdown, marking the first time that had happened for Penn State in one game since 1999. The rushing attack helped Clifford’s confidence in the pocket.

“I thought that he managed the game really well,” said Penn State head coach James Franklin.

“His stats I wouldn’t say were overly gaudy, but he played really well and protected the football. He was really good with the decision-making process, was able to run the ball a little bit and I think as the game went on, he was accurate.”

Penn State’s defense was also effective with seven sacks. Sophomore defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos had 2 1/2 sacks and consistently wreaked havoc.

“I think I had a pretty good start,” Gross-Matos said. “I’m not surprised; we practice and work to have success. I don’t have any number goals for myself.”

Buffalo redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Myers completed 5 of 10 passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns, also rushing for 47 yards and a score in the opener. Myers was the first Buffalo freshman to start at quarterback since 1991.

“I thought he had good command,” Leipold said of Myers. “He’s a pretty even-keeled guy. He didn’t get rattled.”

The Bulls threw when necessary but concentrated on the ground throughout the game. Reigning Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year Jaret Patterson rushed for 90 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries. Kevin Marks added 75 yards on 13 carries.

“I don’t think it’s any secret where our experience lies,” Leipold said. “We were trying to establish a run game and I thought we ran the ball extremely well in the first quarter. Until they could really slow you down, there wasn’t a need to throw it.”

The Bulls’ defense is not fazed by the challenge of limiting Penn State’s high-powered offense.

“We can’t let the doubters get to us,” sophomore defensive tackle Eddie Wilson told the Buffalo News. “They’re saying ‘Oh, (quarterback) Tyree Jackson’s not here,’ and, they’re right. He’s not here, but it’s our time now. It’s our team now. We have to write our own story. We’re practicing hard every day, and I see everyone putting in the extra work to do this.”