Arlington, Texas — Penn State outlasted a tough Memphis Tigers team 53-39 victory behind a superior ground game that simply was too much for the Tigers’ defense at the Cotton Bowl.
The Nittany Lions got contribution by the big three which ran for 391 yards behind– Journey Brown, Noah Cain, and Ricky Slade. Brown had a huge day with 202 yards, Cain added 92 yards and two touchdowns of his own, while Slade put in work with 58 yards on five carries.
PSU defense was around the ball all game long Garrett Taylor returned an interception 15 yards for a score after another big hit from All-America linebacker Micah Parsons lead the way for the Nittany Lions.
“I would say personally for me, how the seniors, when they first came in and how they stayed consistent and just wanted to win football. They set a standard for us, and they showed us the way, and we will mentor to that standard, what they did for us. And we look forward to passing it down to the young guys when the freshmen come in and maintain that Penn State football standard.” Penn State head coach James Franklin mentioned in the news conference.
With the win, PSU now has three 11-win seasons in the past four years. Coach James Franklin has led this program to three New Year’s Six bowl appearances, winning two of them.
PSU (11-2, No. 10 CFP) gave up its most points and yards all season against the big-play Memphis Tigers (12-2), Parsons was tackling quarterback Brady White, who flipped the ball right into the hands of Taylor. That put Penn State up 45-36 in the waning minutes of the third quarter.
Penn State rushed for a season-high 396 yards on 53 attempts, an average of about 7.5 yards per carry.
Tigers quarterback White was 32-of-51 passing for 454 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns. Patrick Taylor Jr. and Kenneth Gainwell both had rushing touchdowns for Memphis, but the rest of their points came on six field goals by Riley Patterson, including a record-long 51-yarder.
Memphis finished the contest with 542 total yards, but White was sacked a season-high six times and didn’t throw a touchdown for the first time since the season opener. Two of those sacks were by Parsons, who finished the game with 14 tackles.
Penn State won for the 30th time in its 50 bowl appearances.
“When you go all the way back to before the season started, nobody was really talking about Penn State, Even within our own conference. Those other teams were getting most of the publicity. And here we are in another New Year’s Six game and had an opportunity to win.” Franklin said.