Northwestern

Penn State sees a Bryce Jordan Center record

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Penn State sees a Bryce Jordan Center record

BOX SCORE

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- On a night where Penn State's guards deferred to their bigs, Nittany Lions forwards Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins were too much for Northwestern to handle.

Stevens set a Bryce Jordan Center record with 14 field goals and scored 16 of his career-high 30 points in the first half and Watkins had 18 points and 17 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season as Penn State beat Northwestern 78-63 on Friday night.

"They beat us up in the paint," Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. "They beat us on drives and post-ups and it was just too much for us to overcome tonight."

Both played with a visible edge -- Watkins backed his marks violently into the paint and Stevens screamed in exaltation after numerous dunks. It was a needed release after a somber ride home from Maryland where the Nittany Lions lost a game they thought they should've won Tuesday.

"Sometimes, a loss like that, where you're winning for 36 minutes and you come up short, it can fracture a young team," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said.

It didn't.

Tony Carr added 12 points for the Nittany Lions (12-5, 2-2 Big Ten), who led the Wildcats (10-7, 1-3) for all but 61 seconds.

Bryant McIntosh returned to the Northwestern lineup from a one-game injury absence and led the Wildcats with 18 points.

Penn State took control with its best shooting half in more than a decade. The Nittany Lions made 71 percent (17 of 24) of their field goals in the first half and led 41-34 at halftime. Penn State last made at least 70 percent of its shots against VMI in 2006.

The Nittany Lions used a 9-0 run that spanned four-plus minutes midway through the second to keep the game out of reach. In that time, the Wildcats went 0 for 7 from the field and wouldn't come closer than six points.

Wheeler’s emergence
Jamari Wheeler has become a valuable commodity off the bench and Chambers is plenty comfortable deploying the speedy freshman in nearly any situation.

Wheeler's speed has helped fuel Penn State's transition game and his defense left few clean shots for McIntosh's sidekick Scottie Lindsey, who dropped 31 points on Penn State on its home court last season.

Lindsey was just 3 for 17 from the field on Friday.

"Jamari's fearless," Stevens said. "I think he's really held his own as a freshman."

Carr’s contributions
Carr struggled scoring the ball for much of the game. He went just 3 for 13 from the field, but Penn State's top shooter made other contributions.

He finished with five assists and four rebounds and made 5-for-7 free throws. He also helped hold the Wildcats in check defensively.

"He was very proud to show me he had blood running down his leg and blood running down his elbow," Chambers said. "I said, `What do you think I'm going to say?' He said, `Winning hurts.' That's right. That's the way it's got to be from here on out."

The takeaway
Northwestern: The Wildcats have been inconsistent for most of the season, ranking in the bottom half of the Big Ten in scoring offense and defense as well as field-goal percentage. Getting McIntosh back should help.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions lost a game they probably should've won against Maryland and played with chips on their shoulders to start this one.

Up next
Northwestern hosts Minnesota (13-3, 2-1) on Wednesday.

Penn State travels to Indiana (8-7, 1-2) on Tuesday.

No. 4 Penn State-Northwestern observations: Slow start, big finish for Barkley

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No. 4 Penn State-Northwestern observations: Slow start, big finish for Barkley

BOX SCORE

EVANSTON, Ill. — Northwestern was determined to keep Saquon Barkley from deciding the game Saturday and, for a while, it worked.

That was just fine by Trace McSorley and the Penn State defense.

McSorley threw for 245 yards and a touchdown and ran in another while the No. 4 Nittany Lions had three takeaways in a 31-7 win over the Wildcats. 

Penn State (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) ended Northwestern’s first two drives with turnovers — an Armani Oruwariye pick deep in his own territory and Kevin Givens’ fumble recovery — before the offense got on track. McSorley found backup QB Tommy Stevens for a 10-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter for a 10-0 halftime lead. 

The Lions forced three-and-outs on Northwestern’s first two drives of the second half and didn’t allow the Wildcats into the end zone until the final two minutes of the game.

McSorley was 25 for 35 before coach James Franklin pulled him late in the game and Barkley, who came into the game with four games of 200 or more all-purpose yards, didn’t fill the stat sheet in his usual fashion but added a pair of touchdown runs in the third quarter to turn the game into a rout.

Northwestern, playing its Big Ten home opener, fell to 2-3 and 0-2 in the conference.

• Penn State got its third and final turnover of the first half when Christian Campbell snared Clayton Thorson’s heave at the goal line. The Northwestern quarterback was sacked three times in the opening half, including a hit by Shaka Toney that forced the fumble late in the first quarter.

Thorson ended the day 19 for 36 for 142 yards and was sacked four times. 

• Barkley had just four net yards after his first 12 carries but made run No. 13 more than lucky. He found a hole late in the third quarter and dashed untouched for a 53-yard touchdown to give the Nittany Lions a 24-0 lead and turn the game into a rout. 

He got his first touchdown earlier in the third on a one-yard dive over the goal line and finished the game with 75 yards on 16 carries and a pair of catches for nine yards.

• McSorley took a glancing shot to the head from Northwestern linebacker Paddy Fisher after a third-quarter pass but was not injured. Fisher was flagged for roughing and ejected after a replay review confirmed the initial call of targeting.

Wildcats safety Godwin Igwebuike was sent off in the fourth quarter after officials flagged him for targeting running back Miles Sanders with his helmet. McSorley scored on a five-yard keeper two plays later.

• Those weren’t the only penalties that greatly helped Penn State extend drives. A pass interference call put the ball at the Northwestern 6 and led to the Lions’ first points, a 21-yard Tyler Davis field goal. 

Davis missed a 35-yard attempt late in the game.

• Penn State’s first drive ended when McSorley couldn’t leg out a fourth-down conversion, then the Lions allowed Northwestern to extend the ensuing drive with a 24-yard fourth-down pass. The Wildcats had a first down at the Lions’ 10, but a holding penalty, Curtis Cothran’s sack and Oruwariye’s interception left the hosts with nothing to show on the scoreboard.

It was the deepest the Wildcats drove all afternoon.

• Penn State almost had its second conference road shutout in less than a year. The Lions blanked Rutgers 39-0 on Nov. 19.

• It should be a happy film session when the Nittany Lions return home: They committed just two penalties — a pair of holding calls after Northwestern punts — while the outcome was in doubt. The drive that followed Penn State’s first yellow flag ended with McSorley’s first touchdown pass.

• The Lions’ third penalty didn’t come until midway through the final period but did prove costly. A holding call negated DeAndre Thompkins’ 74-yard punt return for a touchdown.

• The Big Ten leaders in scoring defense (9.0 points per game) still have not allowed a first-quarter touchdown this season. Northwestern’s only score came with 1:54 to play, long after both teams rested their starters.

• Initial forecasts called for persistent rain Saturday but it never played a factor. The field was damp, but far from soggy at kickoff and showers held off until the final whistle.

• The Lions take a week off before beginning a stretch of games that should decide whether they’ll keep the Big Ten East division title. They welcome No. 7 Michigan to Happy Valley on Oct. 21 seeking to erase memories of last season’s 49-10 loss and snap a three-game losing streak against the Wolverines.

Penn State visits 10th-ranked Ohio State a week later. 

No. 4 Penn State at Northwestern: Trying to stay perfect before facing the big boys

No. 4 Penn State at Northwestern: Trying to stay perfect before facing the big boys

No. 4 Penn State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) at Northwestern (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten)
Ryan Field, Evanston, Illinois
Saturday, noon, ABC

Scouting Penn State
The fourth-ranked Nittany Lions drubbed Indiana, 45-14, last week, as Saquon Barkley returned the opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, helping PSU establish a 28-0 first-quarter lead. Barkley, tops in the FBS in all-purpose yards per game (243.6), had 205 in the game. The Lions, however, managed just 39 yards on the ground on 37 attempts, and are seventh in the Big Ten in rushing yards per game (179.0). They also allowed five sacks last week and have surrendered 11 to date, putting them in the middle of the conference pack in that department. Right tackle has been the trouble spot. Chasz Wright and Andrew Nelson have been slowed by injuries, leaving the position in the hands of redshirt freshman Will Fries, who began the season as the backup on the left side. 

Scouting Northwestern
The Wildcats, down 31-10 with 9:54 left in last week’s game at Wisconsin, cut the gap to seven but could get no closer in a 33-24 loss. Clayton Thorson threw for 219 yards and three touchdowns, but he was intercepted twice and sacked for a safety late in the game, sealing the verdict. Star running back Justin Jackson, who rushed for 1,524 yards last year but has picked up just 273 (4.3 per carry) this fall, left the game with a leg injury but is expected to play this week. Linebacker Paddy Fisher has 37 tackles and safety Godwin Igwbuike has contributed 29, as well as an interception. The Wildcats are, however, 10th in the Big Ten in points allowed (25.3), 11th in yards allowed (384.3) and 11th in rushing yards allowed (145.0).

History
Penn State leads the all-time series, 13-5, but the Wildcats have won the last two meetings, in 2014 and ’15. PSU coach James Franklin is, in fact, 0-3 against Northwestern, having also dropped a meeting while the head man at Vanderbilt. 

Storyline to watch
The weather. Rain is in the forecast today in Evanston, and that could serve as something of an equalizer.

What's at stake
The Lions are looking to keep their ducks in a row heading into their bye week, with games against Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State to follow.

Prediction
Penn State 28, Northwestern 16