No. 2 Penn State-No. 19 Michigan observations: Yeah, Nittany Lions are this good

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No. 2 Penn State-No. 19 Michigan observations: Yeah, Nittany Lions are this good

BOX SCORE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Heisman Trophy candidate Saquon Barkley scored three touchdowns as No. 2 Penn State routed No. 19 Michigan, 42-13, Saturday night.

Barkley scored on runs of 69 and 15 yards in the first quarter, and a 42-yard reception from Trace McSorley with 13:11 left in the game.

The national leader in all-purpose yards per game when play began (217.0), Barkley finished with 176 — 108 on 15 rushes, 53 on three receptions and a 15-yard kickoff return.

McSorley, who ran 11 times for 76 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, clicked on 17 of 26 passes for 282 yards and the score to Barkley. He was also intercepted once and finished with 76 yards on 11 rushes.

Playing before a Beaver Stadium-record crowd of 110,823, the Lions (7-0) piled up a 506-269 yardage advantage despite facing a team that began the night allowing an FBS-best 223.8 yards a game. 

PSU had four touchdown drives of 75 yards or longer and scored the most points against Michigan since Ohio State rang up 42 against the Wolverines in 2015.

Michigan, which scored first-half touchdowns on short runs by Karan Higdon and Ty Isaac, fell to 5-2.

• The Lions had not run a single Wildcat snap this season, until the second play of Saturday’s game. That’s when Barkley took a direct snap, started to his right behind pulling guard Steven Gonzalez, cut back through a gaping hole to his left and outran the Michigan defense for a 69-yard touchdown.

• PSU gobbled up 75 on its first possession and 78 more on its second, a four-play march culminating in Barkley’s 15-yard TD run, on an option pitch from McSorley. In all the Lions had four TD drives of 75 or longer.

• The Lions finished the first quarter with a 14-0 lead, and to date, this season they have outscored their opponents, 90-0, in the opening period. They are the only team in the nation to hold their foes scoreless in that quarter to date.

• The Lions’ fast start obscured some early struggles by McSorley. He overthrew Barkley and tight end Mike Gesicki when both were wide open over the middle, then was intercepted by cornerback David Long when it appeared there was a miscommunication between the QB and Gesicki.

• Coming into the game, Michigan had scored just six touchdowns on 18 trips into the red zone, the Big Ten’s worst conversion rate. Following Long’s interception, the Wolverines drove to a first-and-goal at the PSU 3. They finally punched it in on a one-yard run by Higdon on fourth down.

• UM kicker Quinn Nordin, the one-time Penn State commit, was booed lustily when he lined up for the extra point. He then proceeded to push his kick wide right.

• After Michigan cut the gap to 14-13 on Isaac’s touchdown run with 1:45 left in the half, McSorley whisked the Lions 75 yards in seven plays, a drive that consumed just 52 seconds. McSorley hit three of four passes, including a 36-yarder to DaeSean Hamilton and a 17-yarder to Gesicki on third down. The latter gave PSU a first-and-goal at the 3, and McSorley ran it in from there, with just 53 seconds left in the half.

• McSorley also scored on runs of 13 yards in the third quarter and nine yards in the fourth.

• Barkley, who had a rare drop of a pass in the first half, made a juggling grab of a McSorley throw for his fourth-quarter TD. In the course of the game, he became the first Penn State player with over 3,000 career rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards, and the fourth in Big Ten history.

• McSorley and Hamilton clicked all night. The senior wide receiver finished with six receptions for 115 yards.

• Middle linebacker Jason Cabinda led the defense with 13 tackles and was credited with one of the Lions’ seven sacks.

No. 10 Penn State vs. Nebraska: Staying in hunt for New Year's Day bowl

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

No. 10 Penn State vs. Nebraska: Staying in hunt for New Year's Day bowl

No. 10 Penn State (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) vs. Nebraska (4-6, 3-4 Big Ten)
Beaver Stadium, State College, Pennsylvania
Saturday, 4 p.m., FS1

Scouting Penn State
The 10th-ranked Nittany Lions drubbed Rutgers, 35-6, last week, as Trace McSorley threw for two touchdowns and ran for one. Saquon Barkley also rushed for two scores, but was limited to a season-low 35 yards on 14 attempts. Barkley, second in the FBS in all-purpose yards per game (184.6), needs 101 yards on the ground for his third straight 1,000-yard season. He also leads the Big Ten with 16 touchdowns, and last week became PSU’s all-time leader in all-purpose yardage (5,055). Linebacker Manny Bowen will be held out of his second straight game for what coach James Franklin said was a violation of a team rule, but Franklin hinted Tuesday that offensive tackle Ryan Bates (Archbishop Wood) and defensive end Ryan Buchholz (Great Valley) might be available. Both suffered undisclosed leg injuries against Ohio State on Oct. 28 and have missed the last two games.

Scouting Nebraska
Things are falling apart for the Cornhuskers, who have dropped four of their last five games. Coach Mike Riley appears likely to be fired at season’s end, and quarterback Tanner Lee suffered a head injury in last week’s 54-21 loss to Minnesota, leading to his placement in the concussion protocol. If he can’t play, freshman Patrick O’Brien will get the start. He has gone 18 of 30 for 192 yards in limited action this year, without a touchdown pass. He has been intercepted once. He has two solid receivers in JD Spielman (49 catches, 734 yards, two touchdowns) and Stanley Morgan (47-727-7), but the Huskers are 13th in the 14-team Big Ten in rushing offense (115.6 yards per game). Nebraska is also last in the conference in rushing defense (200.1), and next-to-last in scoring defense (32.5) and total defense (412.0).

History
Nebraska leads the all-time series, 9-7, and has won the last four meetings, including a 23-20 overtime victory in 2013. The teams haven’t squared off since.

Storyline to watch
Once again, the Lions will try to solve an eminently solvable run defense. They have managed just 256 yards on the ground in their last three games, on 87 attempts (2.9 per try), and are just ninth in the Big Ten in rushing, averaging 146 yards a game.

What's at stake
The Lions will honor 23 seniors beforehand. They will also try to remain in the hunt for a New Year’s Day bowl.

Prediction

Penn State 42, Nebraska 17

Undermanned Penn State cruises past Columbia at home

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Undermanned Penn State cruises past Columbia at home

BOX SCORE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Shep Garner scored 18 of his 26 points in the first half and Penn State beat Columbia 79-65 on Friday.

Lamar Stevens added 14 points and Mike Watkins had 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Nittany Lions (4-0) who played without starting guards Tony Carr and Josh Reaves.

Garner was 10 of 18 from the floor with five 3-pointers.

Mike Smith led Columbia with 18 points while Quinton Adlesh and Nate Hickman added 11 apiece for the Lions (1-2).

Penn State led for all but 4:52 and by as many as 14 midway through the first half. Columbia chipped away to cut the halftime deficit to 38-35 but the Nittany Lions opened the second half with a 13-5 run over the first 4:14 to take control.

Carr sat out with a sprained ankle he suffered on Wednesday while Reaves was out for an undisclosed reason.

Big picture
Columbia: The Lions need to do everything better if they want to compete in the Ivy League. Columbia hasn't won back-to-back games since Jan. 27-28 last season. The Lions won two in a row just twice a year ago when they went 5-9 in conference play.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions' depth was tested for the first time this season with Carr and Reaves unable to play. Nazeer Bostick and Jamari Wheeler played well in their places and Satchel Pierce has been tough to play against down low with Watkins in early foul trouble.

Up next
Columbia: Travels to Army on Tuesday.

Penn State: Plays Pittsburgh in the Legends Classic at the Barclays center in New York on Monday.