USA Today Images

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.