In a sea of white, it was the boys in blue that put on a show as No. 2 Penn State avenged its embarrassing 2016 loss at the hands of Michigan. Fans in Happy Valley roared as their team came out on top with a dominating 42-13 victory Saturday night.
In last year’s matchup, it was the then-unranked Nittany Lions getting buried on the scoreboard, this time around it was Penn State in the driver’s seat.
Fresh off a bye week, the Nittany Lions made their presence known right out of the gate. Heisman hopeful running back Saquon Barkley took a direct snap on his first carry to the house for a 69-yard touchdown. The play is the longest rush given up by the Michigan defense this season.
Barkley displayed Le’Veon Bell-like vision as his offensive line created enough space and the running back let his 4.3 speed do the rest as he went untouched into the end zone.
On the next drive, Barkley took a pitch from McSorley and beat the Michigan defenders to the outside for his second score of the game, extending the Penn State lead to 14-0.
Barkley wasn’t going to leave this game without making his mark as a pass catcher. With Penn State up 28-13 early in the fourth quarter, Barkley lined up in the slot and beat Michigan LB Mike McCray on a go route for his third touchdown of the game.
The versatile running back displayed his full offensive repertoire in this one, making superb plays on the ground and through the air, exposing one of the best defenses in the FBS.
In a matchup that seemed to have the makings of another tough day on the ground, Barkley broke out of his “slump” on his way to his first 100-yard game since week 4. His performance is a good sign for Penn State as they move through the heart of their schedule.
My Heisman Rankings Through Week 8
- Saquon Barkley RB Penn State (LW: 1): 108 rush yards, 2 TDs, 3 catches, 53 yards, TD
- Bryce Love RB Stanford (LW: 2): Bye
- Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma (LW: 3): 78 Comp. %, 410 pass yards, 2 TDs, INT, 69 rush yards, 2 Rush TDs
- Josh Adams RB Notre Dame (LW:NR): 191 rush yards, 3 Rush TDs
JT Barrett QB Ohio St. (LW: HM): Bye
Trace McSorley QB Penn State (LW: NR): 65.4 Comp. %, 282 pass yards, TD, INT, 76 rush yards, 3 Rush TDs
With the spotlight surrounding Barkley due to his Heisman potential, it’s easy to look past the superb play of QB Trace McSorley this season. The redshirt junior has 21 total touchdowns on the season and has played a key role in the 7-0 start for No. 2 Penn State.
Going up against Michigan’s formidable top ranked total defense, McSorley torched them for 282 pass yards, 76 rush yards and four total touchdowns. Despite clamoring for backup QB Tommy Stevens to start, McSorley has continued to produce and prove the doubters wrong. With two ranked conference road games in the coming weeks, McSorley’s play will be the key as defenses continue to focus in on Barkley.
Saturday’s victory looked to be the most complete performance by the Nittany Lions to this point in the season, racking up 506 total yards (282 pass, 224 rush) while holding the Wolverine’s offense to a mere 269 total yards.
Going on the road next week to face a Buckeye team with NFL talent all around the defensive line, the Penn State offensive line will need a performance similar if not better than Saturday’s victory if the offense wants to have success against Ohio State.