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Penn State beat Washington because Trace McSorley was 12-of-12 with a freaking 290 QB rating on 3rd downs

This was a virtuoso performance.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Penn State vs Washington Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State capped its second 11-win season in a row by beating Washington on Saturday at the Fiesta Bowl, 35-28. The score was indicative of a close game, though PSU had a 545-331 advantage in total yardage. The real way this game was close was that Washington could’ve turned the result if it didn’t get torched on third downs.

Penn State put together one of the better performances in recent memory on those downs, repeatedly extending drives that Washington’s defense was close to snuffing out. The numbers are wild, and they’re mostly thanks to quarterback Trace McSorley and his cast of receivers. Some figures to put his game into context:

13-of-17 (76 percent)

Penn State’s total conversion rate on third downs.

The national average is 40 percent. Penn State’s season conversion rate entering the day was 44 percent, while Washington’s defense gave up 34 percent.

290.1

McSorley’s quarterback efficiency rating on third downs.

12-of-12

The completion rate on third downs for Penn State QB Trace McSorley.

16.1

McSorley’s average completion on those throws, for a total of 193 third-down yards.

6.1

Penn State’s average yards to gain on third downs. Third-and-mediums are supposed to be difficult, but Penn State made them look like nothing.

11.6

Penn State’s average gain on third down. That is wild on its own, though it’s way worse than the figure when McSorley passed. Some of the difference is because Washington was able to clamp down on a few obvious running situations at the end of the game.

2

McSorley third-down TD passes to receiver DaeSean Hamilton, including this one, a 48-yarder that opened the game’s scoring in the first quarter:

2:19

How much time was left when McSorley found Hamilton for a 14-yard completion on another third-and-8, the last of his (and their) many conversions on the day.

2

Times in 12 attempts that Trace McSorley threw a pass on a third down and did not get that first down for Penn State, though those were at least caught, too.

If this were a video game, Washington would’ve ragequit sometime around the midway mark of the third quarter.