Eastern Michigan vs. Penn State: Live Game Grades and Analysis for Nittany Lions

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Eastern Michigan vs. Penn State: Live Game Grades and Analysis for Nittany Lions
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State 45, Eastern Michigan 7: Final

Penn State wins its home opener 45-7 over Eastern Michigan. Check out the final grades and analysis below.

For the full box score, head to NCAA.com

Penn State Nittany Lions Game Grades
Positional Unit 1st-Half Grade Final Grade
Pass Offense C B
Run Offense B- A-
Pass Defense C+ B-
Run Defense B B
Special Teams B B
Coaching B+ A

vs Eastern Michigan Week 2

Final Analysis of the Nittany Lions

Pass Offense

Hackenberg came out antsy but looked very poised in the second half, finishing the game 22-of-33 for 311 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

The receivers made some big plays down the field, which helped Hackenberg's confidence, and he is already proving to be one of the best QBs in the Big Ten.

Run Offense

Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak both finished with two touchdowns, and Akeel Lynch finished with one. Penn State rushed for 251 yards and was able to make some big plays in addition to picking up the hard-earned yards.

Pass Defense

The defense found a groove in the second half and dominated at the point of attack, not allowing EMU to score an offensive touchdown in the game.

The Nittany Lions only allowed 122 yards through the air.

Very impressive.

Run Defense

The run defense was the life blood today for Penn State on this side of the ball. It gave up 61 yards on 35 carries, making big plays on third down in the second half. 

Special Teams

Ficken finished the game 6-of-6 on extra points and added a 39-yard field goal in the first half. Penn State didn't give up the big play to give EMU life early in the second half and was able to close out the Eagles early on in the third. 


Bill O'Brien is one of the best coaches in college football. With one of the most inexperienced rosters in the country, he was able to pick up PSU's first home win of the year.

He will continue to be the best mentor for Hackenberg. 

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

1st-Half Analysis of the Nittany Lions 

Pass Offense

Hackenberg showed some freshman jitters early, overthrowing receivers and dropping the ball, leading to the lone EMU touchdown. Since then he has settled down and looks to be getting into a rhythm.

Run Offense

Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak both scored touchdowns in the first half. They have combined for 56 yards on nine carries.  Belton has made some good plays out of the backfield on screens, so look for PSU to stick with that. 

Pass Defense

PSU has allowed EMU to drive down the field through the air a couple times, but the Nittany Lions have held the Eagles to just two field-goal attempts.

Penn State is being physical at the line of scrimmage, forcing quick passes.

Run Defense

The run defense has been stellar so far, allowing just 46 yards on 21 carries. However, it has let up on some third-down rushes, which has led to EMU first downs.

Special Teams

Ficken is 2-of-2 on extra points and 1-of-1 on field goals, connecting from 39 yards. Penn State hasn't allowed the big play, but it has also not broken a punt or kick return for big yardage yet. 


Bill O'Brien managed the two-minute drill well at the end of the first half and was a calming presence for Hackenberg early on. 

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