San Diego State, coming off a loss against the University of South Alabama, made their first-ever appearance at Penn State as 15-point underdogs. Penn State was coming off two weeks where they dominated the run game against Buffalo and Rutgers. San Diego State was up for another mammoth of a game against a Power-5 school, but they came up short 37-21.
These two teams run pro-style offenses with a big emphasis on running. The difference is one line has a bigger o-line with a dangerous duo in the backfield. The running back duo Akeel Lynch and Saqon Barkley of Penn State were expected to run all over the SDSU defense, but exited early due to injuries.
But despite the numbers and projections, Penn State was held to 73 yards, no scores versus San Diego State's success out of the backfield, rushing for 107 yards and one touchdown.
Hackenburg gave a decent effort finishing with a line of 21/25 for 296 yards and three touchdowns. Compare that to Maxwell Smith’s line of 8/26 for 113 yards and one touchdown.
The storyline continues for Smith— Hype kills. Smith's SEC hype has died out quickly and frankly he is not ready to compete anywhere else besides the MWC. His QB play-making is questionable, but it’s also the patchwork offensive line which can not give him the protection.
This offensive line is garbage without big guy Darrell Greene. His play is missed through these first 4 games. By the time Greene comes back to play against San Jose State, the offensive line should be more steady.
But San Diego State's uncanny ability to give up really big plays hurts the most. The game changing sack-fumble by Penn State's Carl Nassib and ensuing 71-yard fumble return by Austin Johnson, a 320-pound defensive lineman, took away the sails for San Diego State. The return extended the Penn State lead to 21-34 in the 4th quarter.
Not only the team miscues hurt them, but the defense shares the blame. After giving up 500 yards to the University of South Alabama, Rocky Long's defense gave up 400 yards to Penn State.
In wrapping up the non-conference portion of the schedule SDSU went 1-3 and still do not have a win towards bowl eligibility, and continues the winless streak against the Power-5. In a really down year in the Mountain West, San Diego State is still on track to give the West division a run.