Penn State drops to No. 7 in AP poll following 1st loss

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Penn State drops to No. 7 in AP poll following 1st loss

Everything was going well for James Franklin and No. 2 Penn State, as the Nittany Lions entered the fourth quarter with a 15-point advantage Saturday over Ohio State.

Then Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett threw for three touchdowns in the final quarter to defeat the Nittany Lions in heartbreaking fashion, 39-38.

As a result, the Nittany Lions fell to No. 7 in the latest AP poll, their worst position of the season.

Georgia moved up to No. 2 and took two first-place votes from top-ranked Alabama in a major reshuffling of the top 10 in The Associated Press college football poll.

Every team in the top 10 except idle Alabama changed positions in the poll released Sunday following Ohio State's last-second victory over Penn State and Iowa State's win over TCU. The Crimson Tide finished with 59 first-place votes, and Georgia snared two after turning the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" into a 42-7 runaway over rival Florida.

Ohio State moved up three places after rallying to beat then-No. 2 Penn State, Wisconsin climbed one spot to No. 4 and Notre Dame rounded out the top 5 by moving up four places.

Penn State dropped to No. 7 behind Clemson, followed by Oklahoma, Miami and TCU, which dropped six spots after its 14-7 loss to the Cyclones .

Alabama and Georgia give the SEC the top two spots in the poll for the first time since 2013. The last conference to go 1-2 in the poll was the Big Ten in 2015, when Ohio State and Michigan State sat atop the poll.

To view the rest of the AP poll, click here.

Penn State's balanced attack wallops Pitt in Progressive Legends Classic

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Penn State's balanced attack wallops Pitt in Progressive Legends Classic

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Pat Chambers' message to his team could have been distilled to two words: Just. Play.

"I go back to the term `mental conditioning,'" Chambers said after Penn State's 85-54- rout of Pittsburgh Monday night in the second game of the Progressive Legends Classic."

"We have to win the next possession and the next possession. Don't even look at the score. I'm trying to teach them how to be an elite team," Chambers said. "Big 10 teams that are elite take care of business and I felt we did that in the second half."

Tony Carr scored 16 points to lead six Nittany Lions in double figure scoring. Mike Watkins and Shep Garner had 13 apiece, while Lamar Stevens, Josh Reaves and Nazeer Bostick each scored 10 for Penn State (5-0).

"I'm proud of my team. We were dialed in and focused," Chambers said.

While there was precious little for Chambers to criticize, Pitt (1-3) coach Kevin Stallings was stunned at what had transpired.

"It was a little bit shocking to me," Stallings said. "I didn't have our guys ready to play like I thought I did."

Jared Wilson-Frame led the Panthers with 17 points.

Despite the lopsided nature of the game, it was neither the biggest win in Penn State history nor was it the worst loss ever for Pittsburgh. The Nittany Lions' largest margin of victory was 74, in an 86-12 win over Susquehanna on Jan. 25, 1919, while Pittsburgh dropped a program-worst 106-13 decision to Westminster on Feb. 24, 1906.

Penn State's largest margin of victory against Pittsburgh was 84-44 on Jan. 14, 1967.

"We got punched right at the start of the game and we just didn't respond," Stallings said. "They just got into such a rhythm at the beginning of the game offensively that they played (in) a complete comfort zone and we never did anything to take them out of there."

Garner's opened the game with a 3-point jumper and Nittany Lions never trailed. Carr knocked down a straightaway 3 to make it 47-21 at the break. Bostick threw down a breakaway one-handed jam and Garner drilled another 3 to push the lead to 63-29.

"Our approach was: Win every possession. Every possession matters," Chambers said.

Big picture
Penn State: It may be a fun winter in Happy Valley, and not just because of the nationally ranked football team. Penn State has returned 80.8 percent of its scoring, 87.8 percent of its rebounding and 81.8 percent of its assists from last season.

Pitt: By comparison, it is likely a good thing Pittsburgh has the Stanley Cup Champion Penguins and the possible Super Bowl contender Steelers, because it may be a long season for Panthers fans. Pitt's roster has players who combined for three starts and 648 minutes in 2016-17.

Notable
Penn State: Penn State improved to 76-72 all-time against Pitt. The Nittany Lions snapped a seven-game losing streak to their in-state rivals.

Pitt: Jared Wilson-Frame's 17 points marked the third straight game he finished in double figure scoring.

In attendance: Stephen Curry arrived midway through the second half of the game. The Golden State Warriors star saw Penn State outscore Pittsburgh, 31-25.

Up next
Penn State: Will play No. 16 Texas A&M in the championship game on Tuesday.

Pitt: Will play Oklahoma State in the consolation game on Tuesday.

Hunt for clues about Saquon Barkley's future at Penn State is on

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Hunt for clues about Saquon Barkley's future at Penn State is on

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- For months now, everyone has been seeking clues as to what Saquon Barkley’s intentions beyond this season might be, and the detective work continued Saturday.

Is Penn State’s prized junior running back headed to the NFL after this season? Is he even going to play in the Nittany Lions’ bowl game?

The latter question was answered in the affirmative after Barkley generated 224 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in PSU’s 56-44 defeat of Nebraska: He’s a go for whatever bowl the No. 10 Lions, now 9-2, find themselves in.

Still TBA beyond that. While coach James Franklin advised Barkley before the season as to what he should do, Franklin wouldn’t divulge the particulars of that conversation. (You’re shocked, I’m sure.) And Barkley said he still wants to talk to his family before he decides whether or not to declare for next spring’s draft.

So we wait. And we hunt for clues.

Like when Franklin said he was “blessed to have coached” Barkley — past tense — what did that mean?

Uh, nothing, Franklin said though he did launch into a monologue about advising Barkley and advising players in general.

“What I try to do for all of my players is give them advice that I would give my son,” he said. “If I feel like they should come back to school to finish their degree and have the opportunity to go on and get one more season of development, and then go to the NFL, I tell them that. If I think they should leave early, then I tell them that as well.”

It’s quite simple, in his mind.

“If IBM came to our computer engineering department and offered a junior a $12 million contract, they’d be gone,” Franklin said. “So I give these guys information all the time based on the entire picture -- what their future is like, where they’re at academically.”

Which sounded like a hint as to what he might have told Barkley, all those months ago. But again, who knows?

What we do know is that Barkley is a likely top-five pick. And while he has performed unevenly this season through no fault of his own (i.e., the offensive line has been surprisingly poor), he scored on a 65-yard run three plays into Saturday’s game, went over 100 yards for the game (and 1,000 for the season) when he broke off a 30-yard run on the final play of the first quarter and finished the half with 142 yards and three TDs.

The Lions were up 42-10 at that point. Barkley's final totals were 17 carries for 158 yards and three TDs, and six catches for 66 yards. He became just the second player in program history to surpass 1,000 in three straight seasons — Evan Royster was the other — and overtook Lydell Mitchell for most career rushing TDs; Barkley now has 39.

And that's all with two games remaining this season.

Yes, definitely two — at Maryland in next week’s regular-season finale, and then the bowl, wherever that may be.

Again, there were clues as far back as May that Barkley might follow in the footsteps of two other NFL-bound running backs, LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, who skipped bowl games last year to prepare for the draft. Fournette was taken fourth overall by Jacksonville and McCaffery was taken eighth overall by Carolina

In a Sports Illustrated profile by Pete Thamel, Barkley was quoted as saying the following: “I would have a hard time doing it (i.e., skipping a bowl), but I’m not going to sit here and say I would never do it. I don’t know. I could be in a situation next year where I have close to two broken ankles, God forbid, or something going on in my upper body, and I can’t play in a game if I’m considering playing in the NFL.”

But he said Saturday he definitely plans to play, barring the unforeseen.

“I understand why some other players have not played in a bowl game,” he said. “I’m different from Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey. … Our situations are different.”

Barkley admitted that he did get “a little emotional” Saturday, not so much because it was his final home game but because it was the last time he would be playing alongside the seniors in Beaver Stadium — “no matter what happens.”

No clues there, then. His play, however, would appear to offer the biggest clue of all and leaves little reason for doubt.

Why, at this point, should the sporting equivalent of IBM have to wait any longer?