When you're in the dairy aisle at Jewel this week, don't be surprised to see Northwestern's offense on the back of a milk carton.
The Wildcats couldn't get much of anything going on that side of the ball, wasting what early on was a strong defensive performance before visiting Penn State ran away with a 31-7 win Saturday afternoon in Evanston.
The early story was Northwestern's defense silencing Heisman-favorite running back Saquon Barkley, who had a negative rushing total at halftime and well into the second half. Penn State's explosive offense managed just 10 points in the game's first 30 minutes.
But Barkley and the Nittany Lions showed up after halftime. The star running back scored on a leaping one-yard touchdown rush to put Penn State up by 17 in the third quarter. Then he had his Heisman moment of the week, bursting away from the Northwestern defense for a 53-yard scoring dash about seven minutes later.
Barkley finished with 75 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
The Cats' solid defensive play early was completely forgotten by the time the Lions grabbed a 31-0 lead in the fourth quarter, but the story of the day for Northwestern was its offense's glaring ineffectiveness. Of course, Penn State deserves a great deal of credit. But for the second straight week, a top-10 conference opponent barraged quarterback Clayton Thorson. The Cats turned the ball over three times, including a pair of Thorson interceptions. All those turnovers came in the first half. Thorson threw for just 142 yards and zero touchdowns.
Justin Jackson was again mostly a non-factor, rushing 16 times for 66 yards and no touchdowns. He had a big 30-yard run in the first half, but that was negated by a penalty, one of a few critical flags to go against Northwestern in that first half. A defensive holding call wiped away an interception, allowing Penn State to finish off that drive with a field goal.
On the day, the Cats mustered just 265 yards of offense and had 74 penalty yards compared to the Lions, who finished with 381 total yards and just 30 yards of penalties.
Northwestern has somewhat expectedly struggled in the first two games of conference play, falling in back-to-back contests to Wisconsin and Penn State, two teams who could once again meet for a Big Ten title at season's end. The Cats fell to 2-3 on the season with the loss.
Penn State, meanwhile, reached bowl eligibility with its sixth win. A perfect 6-0, the Lions have outscored opponents 238-54.