Well, it's never easy with Pitt, and it wasn't this time either, but the Panthers came up with a huge win, for many reasons. Some thoughts:
1. James Conner is now all the way back, it would seem. He doesn't carry the ball as often as he used to, but he's not being babied either. He ran hard all day and ended up with 117 yards on 22 carries, plus a touchdown. He also caught 4 passes for 29 yards, and another touchdown. However, it should be noted that he also had a crucial late game fumble deep in Pitt territory that nearly cost the Panthers the game.
2. The player of the game (again) was sophomore Quadree Henderson. The speedster had 3 catches for 43 yards, and a TD reception, plus 4 carries for 58 more yards. And while he didn't get the ball kicked to him often he had a gigantic 84 yarder in the fourth quarter. He is a special talent and don't be surprised if he is an All-American kick returner at the end of the year.
3. Nathan Peterman was not asked to do much throwing, because to be honest he didn't need to, but he still completed 11 of 15 passes for 95 yards. He also had 3 touchdown passes and interception. He even ran for 52 yards on 8 carries, and some of those runs were very big. He was also not sacked at all.
4. Qadree Ollison had back to back nice runs in the second half and ended up with 36 yards on 9 carries. Darrin Hall added 33 yards on 4 carries, and Jordan Whitehead added a 28 yard run down to the 2-yard line. Fullback George Aston played, after missing last week with an injury, and he had 2 rushing TDs.
5. Scott Orndoff played very well in the first half, but then the Panthers stopped throwing. He ended up with 4 catches for 15 yards, and a TD.
6. Outside of Henderson's big kickoff return, special teams played poorly. A big Penn State punt return in the first half gave the Nittany Lions much needed momentum, and Chris Blewitt missed yet another field goal, his sixth of the last seven that he's missed.
7. Defensively, the Panthers started like gangbusters, but in the second half they played rather poorly. They did have 4 sacks, and gave up only 74 yards rushing on 34 attempts, but Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley threw for 332 yards and Saquon Barkley had five touchdowns (four running and one receiving).
8. Pitt had 432 total yards and Penn State had 406.
Bottom line, it was an even game, just as it was expected to be, but because Pitt almost lost a big lead, people again mention "Pitting" (I can't tell you how much I hate that whiny term). But at the end of the day, they didn't blow it, Penn State did, thanks to a nice interception by Ryan Lewis.
The win was huge, not only because of bragging rights, or because so many top prospects saw a great game in front of a record crowd, but also because with road games to Oklahoma State and North Carolina looming, a 1-3 start to the season was very possible.