Saquon Barkley

Penn State's Saquon Barkley not among Heisman Trophy finalists

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Penn State's Saquon Barkley not among Heisman Trophy finalists

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield made Heisman Trophy history just by being selected as a finalist.

Mayfield, reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville and Stanford running back Bryce Love were chosen as finalists for the 83rd Heisman Trophy on Monday night.

The award for most outstanding college football player will be given out Saturday night in New York.

Mayfield and Jackson are finalists for the second straight year, and Jackson is trying to become the second player to win two Heismans, joining former Ohio State star Archie Griffin.

Mayfield, though, will come to Manhattan as the clear favorite. He finished fourth in the Heisman voting in 2015, but was not invited to New York. Last year, he was one of five finalists and finished third behind Jackson and Clemson's Deshaun Watson.

Mayfield is the seventh player to finish in the top five of Heisman voting three times , joining Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard of Army, Doak Walker of SMU, Griffin, Herschel Walker of Georgia and Tim Tebow of Florida.

The Heisman has been naming finalists and bringing them to New York for the presentation since 1982. Mayfield is the ninth Oklahoma player to be selected as a finalist, matching Miami for the most from one school.

Mayfield is trying to become the sixth Heisman winner from Oklahoma and third Sooners quarterback (Jason White and Sam Bradford) to win since 2003.

This season, Mayfield has led the No. 2 Sooners (12-1) to the Big 12 championship and the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma plays Georgia (12-1) in the Rose Bowl semifinal on Jan. 1. Mayfield leads the nation in efficiency rating at 203.76 and has thrown for 4,340 yards and 41 touchdowns.

Jackson's numbers have been better than last season in some categories, but Louisville (8-4) has not had the big wins to go with it. With little fanfare, the quarterback is averaging 411 total yards -- up from 393 last season-- and accounted for 42 touchdowns.

"I'm honored to be chosen as a finalist with these two outstanding players," Jackson said in a statement. "They both had great seasons and deserve this tremendous honor. I want to thank all my teammates and coaches for achieving this honor together."

Griffin won back-to-back Heisman trophies for Ohio State in 1974 and '75.

Love is second in the nation in rushing at 164.42 yards per game and is averaging 8.32 yards per carry for the 15th-ranked Cardinal. An ankle injury slowed Love the last month of the season, but he still led the nation in rushes of at least 50 yards with 12. He also scored 17 touchdowns.

Not making that cut was a couple of talented running backs.

Penn State's Saquon Barkley is second in the nation in all-purpose yards (179.5) and is fifth with 21 touchdowns, including two kickoff return touchdowns for the No. 9 Nittany Lions. He was also 2 for 2 passing with a touchdown. He was considered the favorite heading into the final month of the season, but the Nittany Lions lost twice, and his production fell off until a late surge.

San Diego State's Rashaad Penny leads the nation in rushing (168.9) and all-purpose yards (224.8). Against Nevada three weeks ago, he scored on a rush, a kickoff return and a punt return. Penny had big games against Pac-12 teams Stanford and Arizona State early in the season but was held in check by San Diego State's top Mountain West rivals, Fresno State and Boise State.

Penn State crushes Maryland to finish regular season 'a bittersweet 10-2'

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Penn State crushes Maryland to finish regular season 'a bittersweet 10-2'

BOX SCORE

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Penn State’s regular season closed Saturday with a 66-3 embarrassment of Maryland (see observations).

The Nittany Lions are 10-2, with a high-profile bowl game ahead. They have outscored their last three opponents, 157-53, and all 12 by a whopping 499-186 margin.

Yet none of that can obscure a certain sense of unfulfillment — that a play here or a play there in the losses to Ohio State (by one) and Michigan State (by three), and their season would look very different.

“That’s the tough thing,” quarterback Trace McSorley said. “It’s 10-2, but it’s almost a bittersweet 10-2 because you know it could have been better and we wish it had been. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get it done in a couple games this year.”

He went on to say he and his teammates are happy with 10-2. Really, they are. It comes on the heels of last year’s 11-3 finish, and coach James Franklin was quick to remind reporters that on only two other occasions have the Lions enjoyed back-to-back double-digit victory seasons since joining the Big Ten in 1993.

He also refused to ponder what might have been. Maybe that was posturing. Maybe that was genuine. Maybe it helps him sleep at night.

Whatever the case, that’s his story, and he’s sticking to it.

“I’m excited about being 1-0 tonight, and I’m excited about 10 wins,” he said. “I’m going to focus on the positive, not the woulda/coulda/shouldas. Because we can’t affect them, right?”

Fair enough. But that will not stop the folks in the stands or the press box from playing the what-if game. From wondering what might have happened if a fourth-quarter punt had not been blocked at Ohio State, or if there had not been a three-and-a-half-hour lightning delay at Michigan State.

Franklin acknowledged the latter game was “a mess,” but emphasized that that was no excuse.

“We didn’t play well enough,” he said. “It was a perfect storm of issues.”

That was true right up to the point that safety Marcus Allen drew a roughing-the-passer penalty, allowing the Spartans to move into position for the decisive field goal at the gun.

Speaking of what-ifs.

Another played out Saturday. Tommy Stevens, McSorley’s backup and a guy often employed in the so-called “slash” role this season — i.e., quarterback-slash-running back-slash-receiver — ran for the day’s first touchdown when he was inserted in the backfield with McSorley and star running back Saquon Barkley. 

Stevens also threw a pass and caught one in the first half, then replaced McSorley for good late in the third quarter. In all, he ran 12 times for 113 yards and three scores, went 3 of 7 for 11 yards and another TD and had that lone reception.

Stevens now has rushed for four scores, passed for three and caught passes resulting in two this season. Yet he didn’t play in either loss (as well as three other games), a what-if unto itself: Couldn’t he, perhaps, have tipped the balance in PSU’s favor?

Asked if he might have been chomping at the bit when the Lions faced the Buckeyes or Spartans, Stevens took the diplomatic route.

“It’s in the past,” he said. “I’ve gotten past that.”

Franklin said the Lions typically have a “high red zone package” for Stevens, and that offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead inserts him as he sees fit — that it depends on down and distance, flow of the game, etc.

“We’ve got a pretty good quarterback in Trace McSorley,” Franklin said. “We’ve got a damn good quarterback in our backup quarterback, in Tommy Stevens. But you have to be careful. Sometimes when you get in a two-quarterback system it can mess up the flow. I think we’ve handled it pretty well this year, and I could see this package continuing to grow for us.”

The team’s growth continues as well.

“I like where we’re at, but I still think we’ve got a lot of room for improvement,” he said. “I still think we can get better. That’s still the exciting part of all of this.”

They will need to get better, given the fast company they keep in the Big Ten East. Also given the personnel losses ahead. Foundational players like Allen, linebacker Jason Cabinda and tight end Mike Gesicki will be gone next year. Barkley probably will be, too.

“So,” Franklin said, “we’ve just got to continue scraping and clawing and scratching for every little inch that we can find because to get where we want to go, it’s still going to be a slow, steady crawl. And I’d make the argument that it’s going to be harder, these next steps, than what we’ve already done. Should be an interesting ride.”

It’s the only what-if he would allow himself — the one about what might lie ahead.

The rest of us, meanwhile, can afford to take a backward glance.

No. 10 Penn State-Maryland: Nittany Lions' last chance to build résumé

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No. 10 Penn State-Maryland: Nittany Lions' last chance to build résumé

No. 10 Penn State (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten) vs. Maryland (4-7, 2-6 Big Ten)
Byrd Stadium, College Park, Maryland
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

Scouting Penn State
The No. 10 Nittany Lions beat Nebraska, 56-44, last week as Saquon Barkley generated 224 all-purpose yards, 157 of them coming on the ground. Barkley, who ran for three scores, exceeded the 1,000-yard mark for the third straight season and was named Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week. Trace McSorley has completed 65.2 percent of his passes to date, for a Big Ten-leading 2,991 yards and 24 touchdowns. He has been intercepted eight times. Coach James Franklin said earlier this week that linebacker Manny Bowen will miss his third straight game for what Franklin has called a violation of team rules. Franklin also said he hopes to have defensive end Ryan Buchholz back. He has missed the last three games after suffering an undisclosed leg injury early in the Oct. 28 loss at Ohio State. The status of offensive tackle Ryan Bates is less certain. He too suffered a leg injury against the Buckeyes and has been out the last three weeks.

Scouting Maryland
The Terrapins fell last week in the snow at Michigan State, 17-7, their third straight loss and their sixth defeat in the last seven games. Max Bortenschlager, one of four quarterbacks to start for Maryland this season, returned after missing the previous game with a head injury. He has clicked on 51.3 percent of his passes this season, for 1,128 yards and 10 touchdowns, while being intercepted five times. D.J. Moore (72 catches, 933 yards, eight TDs) leads the Big Ten in receiving, while Ty Johnson (805 yards, 6.2 per attempt) is eighth in rushing. Maryland is no better than 12th in the conference in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense or passing defense.

History
PSU leads the all-time series, 37-2-1, and has won the last two meetings. The score last season was 38-14.

Storyline to watch
It is likely to be the final regular-season game for Barkley, who has firmly established himself as one of the great players in school history.

What’s at stake
The Lions will seek to fill in the final lines on their résumé in hopes of earning a bid to a New Year’s Day bowl.

Prediction
Penn State, 45-14.