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Smeltzer: It was Only Ohio, but…

Yes, Penn State was supposed to pound Ohio. 

Yes, Ohio is in the MAC, and no, the Bobcats aren’t a good football team (or at least they weren’t last year when they finished 3-9.)

But Penn State’s 46-10 home-opening waxing at Beaver Stadium wasn’t your run-of-the-mill “Goliath squashes David” type of game. 

Last year, Penn State beat Ball State, 44-13, in its home opener. 

Readers, can you point out something significant that happened in that game? 

Maybe you can, but whatever it was wasn’t as exciting as what went down at Beaver Stadium in this year’s home opener.

The program’s future was on full display Saturday afternoon and was a beautiful site for any Penn State fan. 

No, it wasn’t perfect. Penn State didn’t shut out Ohio, Jake Pinegar missed a field goal and an extra point and Mitchell Tinsley dropped a would-be touchdown pass. 

None of that matters, however. 

The defense will be good, and Pinegar will be fine. He’s a vet entering his fifth college football season, ditto Tinsley.

What matters is that Penn State’s freshman class, perhaps as hyped as any in school history, delivered in its first chance to put on a show at Beaver Stadium. 

Let’s start with Nick Singleton. 

The five-star, who was the No. 1 running back in the nation for his class according to 247Sports’ composite rankings, gained a modest 31 yards on 10 carries in his college debut at Purdue in Week 1. 

One week later, Singleton got the same amount of carries in his Beaver Stadium debut but picked up more yards.

Like, a lot more. 

One hundred forty-eight more, to be exact. 

One hundred fourteen of Singleton’s 179 yards came on his two touchdown runs of 70 and 44, respectively.

 Singleton got 48 more yards on another run in the third quarter and finished with a whopping 17.9 yards per carry average. 

Most days, Singleton would have been the undisputed story of the day, and for some, his performance was the biggest Week 2 takeaway.

Others, however, are focused on Drew Allar, and rightfully so because the freshman sensation looked fantastic at quarterback. 

Allar came into the game 3 minutes and 27 seconds into the third quarter, and in just five plays, he led Penn State to a touchdown, finishing the drive with a beautiful 32-yard pass.

 Allar led two more touchdown drives– one capped off by a second touchdown pass, another on Singleton’s 44-yard run– before giving way to Christian Veilleux with 6:43 left.

One of Allar’s touchdown passes was to a less-heralded classmate. 

Omari Evans didn’t come to Penn State with the same hype as Allar, Singleton or five-star defensive end Dani Dennis-Sutton. 

Nonetheless, the former three-star from Killeen, Texas, joined in the fun, catching Allar’s first touchdown pass for his first touchdown reception. 

The man who caught Allar’s second touchdown pass, Khalil Dinkins, isn’t a true freshman but is still thought of as a “new player,” having redshirted in 2021. 

Dinkins, a former North Allegheny High School standout, who was teammates with current Penn State corner Joey Porter Jr. at NA, never caught a touchdown or any other pass. Was Saturday the start of a big season for Dinkins, who gets lost in the shuffle among Penn State fans who talk about tight ends Theo Johnson, Brenton Strange and Tyler Warren more often?

Penn State didn’t become a national championship contender Saturday and is still a dark horse at best to win the Big Ten.

But this win over Ohio didn’t feel like a win over Ohio. 

It felt like the start of something big for Penn State, if not this year, then in the years ahead. 

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