The rise of Saquon Barkley is continuing before our very eyes.
After a breakout performance in Penn State's Week 2 win over Buffalo, the true freshman running back had a monster game Saturday, leading the way as the Nittany Lions dominated Rutgers in a 28-3 win, the first Big Ten conference game of the season.
Barkely carried the ball 21 times for 195 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the victory, a superb one-up of his big game last week, when he went for 115 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries. As could have been guessed considering the general sluggishness of the Penn State offense since James Franklin took over, Barkley's effective game was rewarded with nearly double the carries he had a week earlier. He seems to be the team's No. 1 back, getting twice as many carries Saturday as Akeel Lynch, who entered the season as the No. 1 back. Lynch had a big day Saturday, too, carrying the ball 10 times for 120 yards and a touchdown.
Maybe it was the Rutgers defense, which certainly struggled a week ago vs. Washington State, but this is some kind of showing from the Penn State rushing attack. The Lions were one of the Big Ten's worst rushing teams last season and briefly into this season but had a huge day on the ground with a whopping 330 yards.
Behind that huge rushing total, Penn State had a big offensive day, totaling 471 total offensive yards. Christian Hackenberg was again fairly mediocre, completing 10 of 19 passing attempts for 141 yards and no touchdowns with an interception.
Rutgers, meanwhile, struggled mightily in the first game of head coach Kyle Flood's three-game suspension, not to mention amid the indefinite suspension of star wide receiver Leonte Carroo and the bevy of other off-field issues plaguing that program at the moment.
The Scarlet Knights totaled 294 yards of total offense, and they were particularly snuffed out on the ground, held to just 43 rush yards by the Lions' defense. Rutgers' leading carrier, Paul James, got 10 attempts but amassed just seven yards. Quarterback Chris Laviano threw for 251 yards but no touchdowns. Rutgers fumbled three times but only turned the ball over once.
It's a big win for Penn State, helping the Lions to continue to bounce back from that horrendous season-opening loss to Temple. It's two wins in a row now for Penn State, which sees its easy early season schedule continue with non-conference showdowns against San Diego State and Army in each of the next two games.
Meanwhile, the poor play on the field is beginning to match all the negative headlines off it for Rutgers. After throttling Norfolk State to open the season, it's been back-to-back defeats: a heartbreaking last-second loss to Washington State and a beatdown at the hands of Penn State. The Knights get Kansas next week.