The Turning Point In Penn State’s Season

The Penn State Nittany Lions are the 2016 Big Ten Football Champions, and there is one play that I look at as a turning point for the entire season.

In one of the biggest surprises of the 2016 college football season, the Penn State Nittany Lions are champions of the Big Ten Conference. After a thrilling 38-31 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday night, for the first time since 2008, the Nittany Lions are going to the Rose Bowl.

The 2016 season will go down in the annals of Penn State history as one of the most exciting seasons in program history.  It featured an unforgettable upset of Ohio State in front of a packed house at Beaver Stadium. There was the great scene at Beaver Stadium when the Nittany Lions annihilated Michigan State to clinch the Big Ten East Championship. No one will ever forget Penn State overcoming a 28-7 deficit to defeat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game, extending their current winning streak to nine games.

Before the season almost no one would have thought the Penn State Nittany Lions would be 11-2, Big Ten Champions, and Rose Bowl bound. When the team was 2-2 and coming off a 49-10 shellacking at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines, even less people would have thought this was a possibility.

There are a lot of potential turning points that can be pointed to during this amazing season. The first one that mostly everyone will point to is Marcus Allen’s blocked field goal against Ohio State that Grant Haley returned for the game-winning touchdown. Others may point to Saquon Barkley’s game-winning touchdown run in overtime against Minnesota. However, in my opinion, neither of these were the biggest play of the season for the 2016 Nittany Lions.

The play that seemed to spark this team and the run they are on came early in the third quarter of the Minnesota game. I am talking about Trace McSorley’s 80-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Irvin Charles.

With 9:54 remaining in the third quarter Penn State took over at their own 20-yard line. They were trailing the Golden Gophers by a score of 13-3. What happened next would change the course of the 2016 Nittany Lions. Quarterback Trace McSorley fired a bullet down the middle of the field to Irvin Charles who was running a post route. Charles caught the ball for what was his first career reception, broke a tackle and then outran the Minnesota secondary. This cut Minnesota’s lead to 13-10. And since that play, the Nittany Lions have been a completely different football team.

Through the first four games of the season the Nittany Lions were averaging 24 points and 338.5 yards of total offense per game. At halftime of their game against Minnesota, things were not going much better. They had just 178 yards of total offense and three points.

However, everything would change on McSorley’s touchdown pass to Charles. For the remainder of the game Penn State posted 308 yards of total offense. They also scored 26 points on their way to victory. And after this, the offense would never slow down.

During their eight games since this play the Nittany Lions are averaging 41.5 points per game. Additionally, they are averaging 470.8 yards of total offense per game during this stretch.

This touchdown pass from Trace McSorley to Irvin Charles turned Penn State’s season around. Ever since this play happened, the Nittany Lion offense has been a complete different unit. It has become one of the best in the Big Ten. Due to this, they have won nine games in a row and are the Big Ten Champions. Now, they get to finish the season with a trip to the Rose Bowl.

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