Trace McSorley leads No. 5 Penn State in rout of Georgia State

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Trace McSorley leads No. 5 Penn State in rout of Georgia State


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- All week, the usually unflappable Trace McSorley told himself, if he could settle his feet down, his arm would follow suit.

A week after Penn State's quarterback played his most uneven game in a while, bouncing on his toes and firing over his teammates heads, he had one of his best under Beaver Stadium's bright lights.

McSorley threw a stadium-record 85-yard touchdown pass to Saquon Barkley for one of his four scoring strikes and also ran for a touchdown in No. 5 Penn State's 56-0 victory over Georgia State 56-0 on Saturday night.

"That was something that was in my mind," McSorley said. "Last week, personally, I didn't put our team in the best position through my play to win the game. Obviously, we were able to come out with a win but I felt that I didn't put our team in the best position."

That's all he did against Georgia State (0-2) and he got off to a fast start.

McSorley completed 14 of 19 passes for 258 yards in the first half to help Penn State (3-0) take a 35-0 lead in a rare prime-time game against a non-Power Five opponent.

The junior quarterback finished 18 of 23 for 309 yards and running back Saquon Barkley had 226 all-purpose yards despite being sidelined for a stretch in the second quarter with a stomach bug.

Barkley returned to the game after a brief evaluation but wasn't needed much longer. Penn State rested most of its starters after scoring on its first drive of the second half.

"I thought Trace definitely threw the ball better," Penn State coach James Franklin said. "Saquon, he's just got so many tools. You're talking about a 230-pound guy that can make you miss, can run you over and can burst down the sideline."

Backup quarterback Tommy Stevens caught a touchdown pass and threw one, and DaeSean Hamilton, Brandon Polk and Saeed Blacknall added touchdown receptions for Penn State.

Miles Sanders ran one in while Barkley was being out, and Andre Robinson added a late rushing touchdown for Penn State.

Conner Manning completed 16 of 29 passes for 133 yards for Georgia State with three interceptions. The Panthers also lost two fumbles and Penn State turned all five turnovers into touchdowns.

Barkley's ominous tent visit
Penn State's sideline got a scare when Barkley signaled he needed a breather midway through the second quarter.

The Heisman candidate had just lowered his head on an inside run and was piled on by Panthers defenders. Although he popped up quick, Barkley walked slowly to the bench, sat down and hung his head for a bit before being shuffled into the team's nearby medical tent by the team's head athletic trainer.

Barkley emerged after a few minutes and returned to the game apparently no worse for wear. He said afterward he ate something before the game that didn't agree with him and was fine after a brief reprieve.

"It didn't really affect me in the game," Barkley said.

Brown down
Torrence Brown wasn't as lucky.

Penn State's starting defensive end suffered an apparent right knee injury and was carted off the field in the first quarter. Brown took a hard block low by Georgia State running back Kyler Neal and tried to get back to his feet before crumpling to the grass and grabbing for his knee.

Franklin didn't update Brown's status after the game.

Allen breaks a streak
One of Penn State's most experienced players, fourth-year starter Marcus Allen has watched as underclassmen have snagged interception after interception during his tenure.

Allen, who was without an interception before Saturday, said after the Pitt game that he felt his was coming. He snatched Manning' pass and returned it 50 yards to set up Penn State's fifth touchdown.

"I told my dad two days before the game, `Dad, I swear, I promise you I'm going to get an interception before I leave Penn State,'" Allen said. "It feels like my birthday."

The takeaway
Georgia State: The Panthers actually moved the ball at times early. They just couldn't move it anywhere close to scoring position. Hart was explosive most of the night and was able to get open. Manning has a quick release and was able to keep Penn State's pass rush at bay, but his accuracy needs to improve to keep his offense moving.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions continue to break big plays seemingly at will and their defense is thriving. With nearly three dozen players rotating in and out through the first three games, Penn State has allowed just one touchdown. With the conference opener looming, Penn State appears primed for another strong Big Ten run.

Up next
Georgia State hosts Charlotte.

Penn State travels to Iowa City to open Big Ten play.

Penn State's Saquon Barkley tuning out hype, looking to do more

Penn State's Saquon Barkley tuning out hype, looking to do more

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Sometimes Joe Moorhead will call a play and then turn to his players and colleagues on the sideline to guarantee it'll go for a touchdown.

It's one of the ways Penn State's offensive coordinator like to lift his players' spirits. His predictions came true a lot last season. A play like Saquon Barkley's blistering, career-best 81-yard touchdown against Purdue come to Moorhead's mind.

"It's about instilling confidence in your players that any play you call has the opportunity to go the distance," Moorhead said. "When you hand the ball off to 26, you stand a chance to be right more often than not."

Barkley's dazzling running style complete with jukes, jumps and spins has propelled him for 3,209 all-purpose yards and 30 touchdowns in two seasons and vaulted him into preseason Heisman Trophy discussions. It's also why Moorhead plans to use his star back to wear down and saw up defenses even more this fall.

That's a bad prospect for Penn State's opponents who've been worn down and sawed up by Barkley's ability to break tackles, find daylight and pull away. It might be worse for them. Barkley's bigger, stronger and faster thanks to a productive offseason.

"Our coaching staff and our strength staff did a really good job pushing me," Barkley said. "I gained weight this year. I'm at 230 now. I feel faster. I ran a faster 40 than I did last year in the past. That's something I wanted to really add to my game because I feel like, when you do the weight room, it really translates to the football field."

Videos from inside the team's weight room of Barkley squatting nearly 500 pounds went viral last year. They were joined by clips of him power cleaning 405 pounds in January. In winter workouts he ran a hand-timed 4.33 in the 40 and in July he wowed spectators at a team charity event with 30 bench press reps of 225 pounds.

Those measure up favorably to numbers posted at the most recent NFL Combine. Oklahoma's Samaje Perine was the lone running back to bench 30 reps and Barkley's 4.33 would've been the fourth-best 40 time. Surely, the option of Barkley foregoing his final season at Penn State to jump to the NFL will loom throughout the season.

He was asked about it at the team's media day on Saturday.

"I have not made a decision yet," Barkley said. "I'm really just focusing on the season and focusing day by day. Right now my biggest focus is on camp."

Instead of thinking about the NFL, or the Heisman, which only one Nittany Lions player -- John Cappalletti in 1973 -- has won, Barkley has taken a similar approach to the last offseason when he spent time watching some of college football's other top backs on film.

Barkley, who caught four of his five receiving touchdowns last season, primarily wants to play a bigger role in the passing game. He's drilled with the team's top wideout and smoothest route-runner DaeSean Hamilton to learn new techniques.

"I feel that, and Coach (James) Franklin will agree, that I'm capable of being lined up in the slot, being able to run routes," Barkley said. "I do feel like I'm capable to do a lot with the ball in my hand in space, and I just want to continue to grow in that area."

But as Barkley's highlight reel has grown, he's remained grounded. Staying humble despite the expectations and hype that have swirled around him has endeared Barkley to his teammates.

When the Nittany Lions have strolled through town to meet fans and distribute posters each of the last two summers, Barkley has drawn the biggest crowd, huddles of kids and adults all with markers intent on getting No. 26's autograph.

"Since that hurdle in the Buffalo game, there's been a buzz about him," Franklin said. "And he's handled it really well, better than I would have ever handled it at that age. There's no doubt about it. And I think that's where he kind of has earned everybody's respect."