EAST LANSING, Mich. — Penn State seemed to have weathered the storm, both literally and figuratively. After a 3 hour and 23-minute weather delay Saturday, No. 24 Michigan State gave the seventh-ranked Nittany Lions all it could handle.
But coach James Franklin and his team fought back. Quarterback Trace McSorley threw for 381 yards and three touchdowns, but in the end, Penn State couldn’t overcome its bad penalties and mistakes, as the Nittany Lions fell to the Spartans, 27-24.
Heisman hopeful running back Saquon Barkley ran for 0 yards in the first half, and though he broke out a bit in the second, he finished with just 63 yards total, and the run game was far less potent than usual for the Nittany Lions.
Defensively, Penn State had no answer for Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke, who threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns. Junior receiver Felton Davis also tore up the Nittany Lions, with a career-high 10 catches for 181 yards and a touchdown.
• The Spartans built a 21-14 lead with a touchdown from running back L.J. Scott, and they seemingly had all the momentum. Penn State fought back, though. After a methodical 12-play drive finished with a field goal from kicker Tyler Davis, the Nittany Lions defense got a stop.
• On the next play, redshirt junior quarterback Trace McSorley fired a bomb to redshirt junior receiver Deandre Thompkins behind the defense. Thompkins’ man fell down, and he walked into the end zone for a go-ahead 70-yard touchdown.
• Michigan State was driving early in the fourth quarter after an interception from safety David Dowell. But Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye tapped his toes for a seemingly momentum-swinging interception.
• The Nittany Lions couldn’t answer, though. After driving inside the Spartans’ 35-yard line, Penn State faced a key fourth down. McSorley’s pass went through the hands of Thompkins and Michigan State took over with a chance to win the game.
• It appeared that Penn State stopped its opponents to give its offense a chance to tie or win the game. But a roughing the passer penalty on safety Marcus Allen extended the Spartan drive.
• With No. 6 Ohio State losing, a win for Penn State could have been enormous for its playoff and Big Ten Championship hopes. With a victory, Penn State would have tied the Buckeyes in the Big Ten East standings, and the Nittany Lions likely would have hopped them in the CFP polls.
• In the first half, Barkley only received six rush attempts, and he took them for zero yards. His inability to get anything going within the tackles was a major hindrance to the Nittany Lions’ attack all game.
• Penn State’s rush defense was quite stout. Michigan State was only able to muster 74 rushing yards of its own, and Scott had only 43 of those.
• The Nittany Lions will return to State College to take on Rutgers (4-5) next week.