Penn State sprung some surprises on Michigan in blowout victory

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Penn State sprung some surprises on Michigan in blowout victory

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — It was 11:23 p.m. Saturday night — James Franklin, poised to address reporters in the Beaver Stadium media room, knew the time because he checked a cellphone lying before him — and Penn State’s coach said that would allow him exactly 37 minutes to enjoy the 42-13 victory over Michigan (see observations).

After that, it was time to move on, time for the second-ranked Nittany Lions to prepare for the next step down a treacherous path. That involves a visit to No. 6 Ohio State next weekend, with another trip, to No. 18 Michigan State, to follow.

Franklin wasn’t about to discuss the Buckeyes within that precious 37-minute window. There will be time enough for that in the days to come.

But what seems apparent is the Lions have the ability and adaptability to run with the Big Ten’s big dogs — that if they lose next week, it will be because of the Buckeyes’ strengths, not their weaknesses.

On Saturday night, PSU was as good as it has been against a quality team in Franklin’s three-plus seasons on the job, outgaining the No. 19 Wolverines, 506-269, and unleashing Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley for three touchdowns apiece.

“Everybody’s been saying we haven’t been playing anybody this year,” wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton said. “Obviously we played somebody today.”

Somebody who came away pretty, pretty impressed.

“They hit us on quite a few plays that we have defensed well this year,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “I thought their execution was really good tonight, right from the beginning.”

As in, the second play from scrimmage. That’s when Barkley lined up in the Wildcat — a formation the Lions hadn’t shown all year — and zipped 69 yards for a touchdown. He then capped their second possession by scoring on an option pitch, something else PSU hadn’t done much this season.

Franklin had said in the days leading up to the game the Lions had something up their sleeves, that they were waiting to spring some stratagems on the Big Ten heavyweights. The wrinkles, he added Saturday, were things they had worked on during the preseason.

“The fact that we have some recall helps,” he said.

So too did the fact they had a week off to prepare for the Wolverines.

“We watched, probably, seven different games of Michigan film,” Hamilton said. “It really helped a lot.”

Michigan cut the gap to 14-13, but then the Lions ran away and hid. It was difficult to find fault with any aspect of their performance, though Franklin tried. He thought the defense could have handled sudden change better, seeing as Michigan charged downfield for a touchdown after McSorley threw a first-quarter interception.

Barkley tried, too. On a day when he generated 176 all-purpose yards — 108 of them on the ground — the Heisman hopeful fixated on his second-quarter drop of a McSorley pass, on a wheel route down the left sideline.

“Sometimes I overthink and I just put myself in bad situations,” Barkley said. “I should have just caught it first. I was thinking score. I was thinking about catching the ball. I felt the safety. I felt his presence. I wanted to try to make him miss and find a way to get into the end zone.”

He atoned with a 42-yard TD reception in the fourth quarter, though he juggled that one, too.

“I was able to run through it,” he said. “It humbles you again, makes you realize you’ve got to put a little more work in. You’ve got to find a way to make those plays.”

Especially now that the celebration, brief as it was, is over. It’s time to take another step down a treacherous path, time to find out where it might lead.

Penn State comes up short in overtime

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Penn State comes up short in overtime

BOX SCORE

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Dupree McBrayer scored 14 of a career-high 24 points in the second half and overtime and Minnesota beat Penn State 95-84 on Monday night.

Nate Mason added 25 points and Jordan Murphy scored 22 and grabbed 19 rebounds for the Golden Gophers (14-6, 3-4 Big Ten) who snapped a three-game losing streak.

Tony Carr scored 33 points, Mike Watkins added 20 and 11 rebounds and Lamar Stevens chipped in 12 for Penn State (13-7, 3-4).

Minnesota made 53 percent of its field goals on 35-for-66 shooting. That included a 10-for-17 pace from 3-point range with three coming in overtime after the Golden Gophers gave up a 13-point lead with 8:56 to play.

McBrayer hit a jumper then to put Minnesota up with its largest lead of the game at 63-50 but Penn State raced back with a 15-2 run. Mike Watkins capped Penn State's surge with his second steal, sprinted the other way for a dunk that tied it 65.

The teams traded baskets down the stretch before Carr sank a 3-pointer with three seconds left to make it 74-all and force overtime.

Big Picture
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers needed some positive energy. Losers of three straight since star Reggie Lynch was suspended and talented sophomore Amir Coffey was hurt, a win to kick off an East Coast road trip featuring three games in six days should boost their morale.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions need Josh Reaves back. They looked listless at points in this one without arguably their most fiery player. Notably, Penn State has allowed nearly 10 more points per game with their best defender suspended for academic reasons.

Up Next
Minnesota travels to Maryland on Thursday.

Penn State travels to Northwestern on Saturday.

Tony Carr saves his best for last in OT

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Tony Carr saves his best for last in OT

BOX SCORE

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Tony Carr has had some nice second-half efforts lately. Penn State's top shooter saved most of his best stuff for overtime on Friday.

Carr scored nine of his 17 points, including a game-winning long jumper with three seconds left in overtime, and Penn State beat Nebraska 76-74 and secure Pat Chambers' 100th win as Penn State's coach on Friday?night.

Lamar Stevens scored 26 points and Mike Watkins added 20 and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Nittany Lions (13-6, 3-3 Big Ten), who led by as many as 16 in the second half.

But it was Carr, who notched 18 of 28 in the second half at Indiana on Tuesday, who wrestled control back with tough makes through crowds of defenders in the final five minutes.

"Tony had the guts to come out and hit some big shots for us when he didn't have the best shooting night," Chambers said.

When Carr was working to find his shot, Stevens was taking over in a fashion that's become typical for him of late. The hybrid forward entered the game averaging 22 points over the last three.

He quickly kept at it with 10 of Penn State's first 19 points and Penn State closed out the first half on a 21-9 run and led 33-24. Nebraska made just five of its final 14 field goals in that span and finished the first half 9-for-32 from the floor.

"You can't just get blasted in the first half like that," Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. "We have to be more prepared to battle with a guy who's a warrior like that because he just attacks the rim."

Glynn Watson Jr. and Isaac Copeland scored 21 points apiece while Isaiah Roby and Anton Gill scored 12 and 10, respectively, for the Cornhuskers (12-7, 3-3).

Shep Garner made a 3-pointer to give Penn State its largest lead at 42-26 just over two minutes into the second half.

But the Huskers fought back from there and switched to a press look to slow Penn State's offense.

They put together a 39-23 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers from Copeland and Watson that made it a two-point game with?3:28?to play. They combined for four free throws and Watson hit the final shot of regulation moments later to send it to overtime 65-65.

The big picture
Nebraska: The Cornhuskers were on a good stretch with five wins in six tries before?Friday's?game. Runs like that could come more often if they shoot better. Nebraska entered the Bryce Jordan Center shooting just 43 percent from the floor and 36 percent from 3-point range for the season.

Penn State: All three of Penn State's conference losses have come by six or fewer points and although they played a poor-shooting team in this one, the Nittany Lions have enough talent committed to playing defense to keep even good offenses at bay. Whether they can outscore those teams, or hold on to big leads, remains to be seen.

No Reaves
Penn State was again without its top defender as Josh Reaves sat out a second straight game for academic reasons. Reaves leads the team and is 15th nationally with 2.47 steals per game. He's chipped in 10.8 points per game, too.

Awaiting word on Tshimanga
Nebraska was without starting center Jordy Tshimanga, who did not make the trip to Penn State as he mulls whether to transfer. Multiple outlets reported Tshimanga's frustration with the way his season has unfolded.

The 6-foot-11 sophomore started all 18 games previously and was averaging 3.5 points and 5.1 rebounds over 15.2 minutes per game.

Miles said he couldn't offer an update yet on Tshimanga's status.

"I won't know until I get home," he said.

Up next
Nebraska hosts Illinois (10-8, 0-5)?on Monday.

Penn State hosts Minnesota (13-5, 2-3) on Monday.