The Penn State Nittany Lions are the 2019 Cotton Bowl Champions and they looked good doing it.
The Cotton Bowl
The more things change the more they stay the same. The Memphis Tigers are just the latest group of 5 team to put a power 5 team to the test. Memphis showed grit and determination the entire way before eventually falling by a final score of 53-39. Make no mistake about it, Memphis belonged on that field against a top 10 team.
In a game that was billed as offense vs. defense, there wasn’t a whole lot of defense. Memphis put up more yards in the 1st quarter than any other team against PSU all year. This was a game of contrasts as stark as any you will find. Memphis exposed the weakness in the PSU secondary throwing for over 450 yards while Penn State used their superior line and running backs to rush for more yards than any Penn State team before.
Penn State Running Game
Penn State’s RBs came to play. Journey Brown led the way with 16/202/2 a new PSU Bowl record besting Saquon Barkley’s 194 in the 2017 Rose Bowl. Not to be outdone true freshman Noah Cain rushed for 15/92/2 in his own right. These two backs spearheaded a 390 + yard rushing performance.
Simply put, this was the best rushing performance by a PSU team ever in a bowl game. Memphis simply could not stop the running game. For old school football fans this game had a grind it out feel while still showcasing fireworks that would entertain fans of any era. You can see the run of the night below by offensive MVP Journey Brown.
Best LB In College Football Shined On The Brightest Stage
Micah Parsons was predictably the defensive star in this one. The 1st Team All-American racked up multiple tackles for loss and was a dominant force all over the field. This was a statement game for the likely frontrunner for next season’s Butkus award. Parson’s made a game high 14 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles. In his final game All Big10 DE Yetur Gross Matos also had himself a game notching his final sack in Blue & White.
As I wrote in a previous article the Cotton Bowl is simply a better venue for Penn State. Some traditionalists are going to still cry about the Rose Bowl but I will hear none of it. Penn State is undefeated in the Cotton Bowl Classic and has much more history at that Bowl. From the story of Wally Triplett to the birth of the chant “We Are……Penn State” The Cotton Bowl has been the birthplace of many a Penn State tradition.
This game meant something to the team from Happy Valley. It was the culmination of a successful season. The program put a bow on yet another 11 win season and New Year’s 6 Bowl Victory. You need look no further than Head Coach James Franklin’s celebration at the end to know just how much this game meant to the team.
The program will return virtually their entire offense next season along with 1st Team All-American LB Micah Parsons. The building blocks are there for them to take the next step and finally get to the college football playoffs. Only time will tell if they can finally kick down the door after yet another year of looking through the keyhole.
Luckiest man alive. Father, Husband, Son, Brother, and college football enthusiast. Ph.D in 20th Century U.S. History. Love researching and writing about things that interest me. Looking forward to sharing my musings on college football with all the readers of this amazing website. Follow me on Twitter: @ReflipeWThenuz