No. 4 Penn State vs. Pittsburgh: Rivalry or not, some revenge on the mind

No. 4 Penn State vs. Pittsburgh: Rivalry or not, some revenge on the mind

No. 4 Penn State (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) vs. Pittsburgh (1-0, 0-0 ACC)
Beaver Stadium, State College, Pennsylvania
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ABC

Penn State, having jumped from No. 6 to No. 4 in the major polls, hosts Pitt.

Scouting Penn State
The fourth-ranked Nittany Lions opened their season with a 52-0 rout of Akron, as Saquon Barkley rushed 14 times for 172 yards and two touchdowns, and Trace McSorley threw for two TDs and ran for another. Both scoring passes went to tight end Mike Gesicki, who led both teams with six catches. Juwan Johnson added four receptions for 84 yards in his first career start. DeAndre Thompkins also became the first PSU player since 2008 to return a punt for a touchdown, and the defense limited the Zips to 159 yards. The Lions recorded 14 tackles for loss, three of those by backup defensive tackle Tyrell Chavis, and three sacks. Jarvis Miller and Ryan Buchholz had one each, and Chavis combined with Curtis Cothran for the other.

Scouting Pitt
The Panthers went to overtime to nudge Youngstown State, 28-21, in their opener, on Max Browne’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Jester Weah. Bricen Garner then clinched the game with an end-zone interception. Qadree Ollison rushed 22 times for 91 yards and two TDs, while Browne, a graduate transfer from USC, went 17 for 24 for 140 yards. Wide receiver Quadree Henderson also contributed 155 all-purpose yards, including 77 yards on nine rushes, while linebacker Oluwaseun Idowu and cornerback Dennis Briggs had seven tackles apiece to pace the defense. Safety Jordan Whitehead served the first of a three-game suspension, and the Panthers allowed 311 yards passing.

History
Penn State leads the all-time series, 50-43-4, but the Panthers won last year’s meeting at Heinz Field, 42-39.

Storyline to watch
Two things: Whether the Lions can contain Henderson, who piled up 201 all-purpose yards in last year’s game, and how Pitt defends the pass. The Panthers finished 127th among 128 FBS teams in yards allowed through the air last season (333.2), and saw their struggles continue against Youngstown State.

What’s at stake
Depends who you ask. The Panthers regard this as a rivalry game, while the Lions claim it is not.

Prediction
Rivalry or not, PSU remembers last year.

Penn State 45, Pittsburgh 14

Penn State can't keep streak alive against No. 6 Purdue

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AP Images

Penn State can't keep streak alive against No. 6 Purdue

BOX SCORE 

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Carsen Edwards scored 27 points to lead sixth-ranked Purdue to a 76-73 victory over Penn State on Sunday night.

Dakota Mathias added 18 points and Isaac Haas had 12 points and six rebounds for the Boilermakers (24-5, 13-3 Big Ten), who snapped a season-worst three-game skid.

Tony Carr had 19 points, five rebounds and five assists, Shep Garner had 17 points and Lamar Stevens had 13 points and six rebounds for the Nittany Lions (19-10, 9-7). The loss ended a stretch of six wins in seven games.

Ryan Cline's 3-pointer with 5:31 remaining gave Purdue a 61-58 lead, and the Boilers never trailed the rest of the way.

It wasn't easy for a Purdue team in search of the same offensive flair that made the Boilermakers unbeatable during a program-record 19-game winning streak that stretched from November until a 64-63 loss to Ohio State on Feb. 7. It became more difficult without starting forward Vincent Edwards, one of the team's most consistent players.

Vincent Edwards sat on the bench wearing a walking boot after spraining his left ankle in practice on Saturday. The team disclosed the injury in a statement before tipoff.

It was another uncharacteristic game for the Boilermakers. They trailed by as much nine points in the first half, during which they shot 42.3 percent from the field and went 2 for 9 from 3-point range.

Penn State led 36-32 at halftime.

Big picture 
Penn State: Despite another poor offensive night by Purdue, the Nittany Lions proved their recent hot streak, which included a 79-56 blowout of No. 8 Ohio State, may not have been a fluke. Even after the Boilermakers found a groove in the second half, Penn State still never trailed by more than 11 points.

Purdue: After dropping three straight conference games and falling in the Big Ten standings, the Boilermakers needed to get back on track quickly with just two regular season games remaining.

Up next 
Penn State: The Nittany Lions host Michigan on Wednesday.

Purdue: The Boilermakers are at Illinois on Thursday.

Garner and Carr lead Penn State to 3rd straight win

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USA Today Images

Garner and Carr lead Penn State to 3rd straight win

BOX SCORE

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Shep Garner scored 16 points and Tony Carr had 15 points to lead Penn State to a 74-52 victory over Illinois on Sunday night.

Illinois missed its first nine second-half shots and didn't score for seven-plus minutes as Penn State went on a 12-0 run to make it 49-36. The Nittany Lions (18-9, 8-6 Big Ten) led by at least nine points the rest of the way.

Carr hit three 3-pointers, grabbed six rebounds and had six assists. Lamar Stevens finished with 11 points, while Mike Watkins and Josh Reaves scored 10 apiece, for Penn State.

Illinois had the lead for more than 15 minutes in the first half, but squandered it late. Carr air balled a 3-pointer from the right wing, but Jamari Wheeler grabbed the offensive rebound and kicked it out to Garner, who nailed a corner 3.

On the ensuing play, Mark Alstork stepped on the baseline while inbounding the ball, giving Penn State possession with 3.6 seconds left. Carr scored a layup before the buzzer to take a one-point lead into the break.

The Nittany Lions shot 54.5 percent from the field, outscored Illinois 34-12 in the paint and won their fourth consecutive game against the Illini. Penn State has won six of its last seven overall.

Leron Black led Illinois (12-14, 2-11) with 18 points.

Big Picture
After finishing three games below .500 last season, the Nittany Lions continued their impressive turnaround this year. With a strong finish in conference play, Penn State could make its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011.

After scoring career-high 32-points in a 78-69 loss to Wisconsin on Thursday, Trent Frazier was held to just six against Penn State. He has been Illinois' best player in conference play, and without a strong performance from him the Illini struggled.

Up Next
The Illini will face Indiana on the Wednesday night. Illinois knocked off the Hoosiers on Jan. 24 for its first Big Ten victory of the season.

Penn State returns home to face No. 14 Ohio State. The Buckeyes sit atop the Big Ten after a one-point win over No. 3 Purdue last week.