The Nittany Lions are allowing just 16.7 points per game in 2021, ranking 10th in the country and fourth in the Big Ten. Penn State is allowing opponents only a 64.7 conversion rate in the red zone this season, ranking sixth in the country and leading the Big Ten. In 34 opponent red zone trips, Penn State has held opposing teams without a score on 12 possessions. Penn State has held its opponents to a 29.41 touchdown conversion percentage in the red zone, marking the third-best in the country (34 attempts, 10 touchdowns). The Nittany Lions’ 12 red zone stops are the most among Power Five teams and tied for the FBS lead with Cincinnati, Florida Atlantic and UTEP. Penn State has allowed just six passing touchdowns this season, tied for fifth in the country.
Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Brent Pry is in his 30th year of coaching and his 15th at a Power Five program.Pry coached the East Stroudsburg outside linebackers and defensive backs in 1993-94, James Franklin’s final two seasons as theirquarterback. Pry’s father, Jim, was Franklin’s offensive coordinator at East Stroudsburg.Pry has helped the programs he’s coached to Top-25 finishes in total defense in eight of his last 11 seasons, including four at PennState.Over the last seven seasons with Pry on staff, PSU sits second nationally in sacks per game (3.05; trailing only Clemson), third inQB hurries (900), fourth in total pressures generated (1338), seventh in fewest passing TDs allowed per game (1.08), seventh intackles for loss percentage (10.67), ninth in fewest passing yards per attempt (6.29) and 11th in fewest rushing yards per attempt(3.57).Penn State’s 256 sacks over the last seven years (2015-21) are fifth behind Clemson (316), Alabama (279), Pitt (262) and Ohio State (260).Over the last seven years, Penn State has accumulated a 8.55 percent sack percentage (256 sacks on 3,117 plays), which ranksfourth in the FBS.Since 2014, Penn State has held opponents to seven or less points 22 times, sixth-most among FBS teams. Sixteen of those 22games have been against Big Ten opponents.Since 2014, Penn State has kept opponents under 300 total yards 44 times, the seventh-most games among FBS teams.Penn State has two pick-six’s in a season for the first time since 2019 (John Reid vs. Buffalo, Garrett Taylor vs. Memphis).Ohio State entered the game leading the nation averaging 49.3 points per game and was limited on offense to two touchdowns andthree field goals.Penn State limited Illinois to 38 passing yards, the second-lowest by an opponent since 2014.The Nittany Lions had 11 tackles for loss against Iowa.Penn State did not allow a passing touchdown through the first 147 passing attempts faced this season, the most in the FBS.Since 2000, 147 is the most passing attempts Penn State has faced without allowing a passing touchdown to start a season.Dating back to the Nebraska game in 2020, Penn State has forced a turnover in 15-straight games, the fourth-longest streakamong FBS teams and the tied second-most among Power Five teams (Marshall, 23; Baylor, 17; San Diego State, 17; Oklahoma,15).In those 15 games, Penn State has forced 23 total turnovers (15 interceptions, eight fumbles).Penn State has forced 16 takeaways this season, including 10 interceptions which are good for 22nd in the country.
Below is a list of where Penn State ranks among the top–50 teams in the most recent season statistical rankings.Rankings listed NCAA/Big Ten; Statistics current as of Nov. 7, 2021
Red Zone Defense – .647 (6/1)
Team Passing Efficiency Defense – 107.58 (8/3)
Scoring Defense – 16.7 (10/4)
Defensive TDs – 2 (15/3)
Turnover Margin – Plus-6 (19/4)
Turnovers Gained – 16 (22/2)
Interceptions – 10 (23/4)
3rd Down Defense – 35.6 (34/6)
Tackles For Loss Per Game – 6.0 (37/3)Total Defense – 350.8 (40/6)
Fumbles Recovered – 6 (42/7)
Passing Yards Allowed – 213.6 (45/7)
Rushing Defense – 137.2 (49/9)
Below is a list of Penn State players that rank among the top–100 individuals in the most recent season statistical rankings.
Rankings listed NCAA/Big Ten; Statistics current as of Nov. 7, 2021
LB Ellis Brooks Total Tackles Per Game – 7.7 (76/11)
S Jaquan BriskerInterceptions – 2 (59/8) Fumbles Recovered – 1 (81/10) Interceptions Per Game – 0.2 (88/9)
S Ji’Ayir Brown Interceptions – 4 (3/1 )Interceptions Per Game – 0.4 (4/2)Fumbles Recovered – 2 (8/2)
DE Arnold Ebiketie Blocked Kicks – 2 (1/1)Tackles For Loss Per Game – 1.4 (11/2)Sacks Per Game – 0.72 (25/5)
DT Dvon Ellies Fumbles Recovered – 1 (81/10)
DT Derrick TangeloFumbles Recovered – 1 (81/10)
DE Nick Tarburton Fumbles Recovered – 1 (81/10)