Saquon Barkley carries No. 2 Penn State past No. 19 Michigan

By Gordie Jones, The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 21, 2017 at 11:47 PM
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Heisman Trophy candidate Saquon Barkley scored three touchdowns as No. 2 Penn State routed No. 19 Michigan 42-13 on Saturday night.

Barkley scored on runs of 69 and 15 yards in the first quarter, and a 42-yard reception from Trace McSorley with 13:11 left in the game.

The national leader in all-purpose yards per game when play began (217.0), Barkley finished with 176 -- 108 on 15 rushes, 53 on three receptions and a 15-yard kickoff return.

McSorley, who ran 11 times for 76 yards and three touchdowns, clicked on 17 of 26 passes for 282 yards and the score to Barkley. He was also intercepted once.

Playing before a Beaver Stadium-record crowd of 110,823, the Lions (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) piled up a 506-269 yardage advantage despite facing a team that began the night allowing an FBS-best 223.8 yards a game.

PSU had four touchdown drives of 75 yards or longer and scored the most points against Michigan since Ohio State rang up 42 against the Wolverines in 2015. It was also the Lions' second-highest total against the Wolverines in a regulation game.

Michigan, which scored first-half touchdowns on short runs by Karan Higdon and Ty Isaac, fell to 5-2, 2-2 in the Big Ten.

The Nittany Lions had not run a single Wildcat snap this season until the second play of Saturday's game. That's when Barkley took a direct snap, started to his right behind pulling guard Steven Gonzalez, cut back through a gaping hole to his left and outran the Michigan defense for a 69-yard touchdown run.

After a Wolverines punt, Penn State whisked 78 yards in four plays, including a 23-yard run by McSorley and his 35-yard pass to tight end Mike Gesicki. Barkley then took a pitch from McSorley around right end and scored from 15 yards out, giving the Nittany Lions a 14-0 lead.

With Penn State again on the move late in the period, Michigan cornerback David Long intercepted McSorley on a second-down snap from the Michigan 22, setting in motion an 11-play, 59-yard drive culminating in Higdon's 1-yard TD run on fourth down.

Michigan kicker Quinn Nordin, a one-time Penn State commit, missed the extra point wide right, leaving the Nittany Lions with a 14-6 lead.

The Wolverines cut the deficit to 14-13 on Isaac's 6-yard run with 1:45 left in the first half. Michigan's eight-play, 67-yard drive came after the Nittany Lions turned the ball over on downs, and featured a 23-yard pass from John O'Korn to Kekoa Crawford on third-and-5 from the Penn State 29. Isaac scored two plays later.

McSorley answered by leading the Nittany Lions 75 yards in seven plays, a march that consumed just 52 seconds. He hit three of four passes for 65 yards, including a 36-yarder to DaeSean Hamilton and a 17-yarder along the left sideline to Gesicki on third down. The latter pass gave the Nittany Lions a first-and-goal at the 3, and McSorley took it in from there with 53 seconds left in the half.

Up 21-13 at the break, Penn State had more points and yards (302) at that point than Michigan had allowed in any single game this season.

McSorley also ran 13 yards for a score with 5:13 left in the third quarter, capping a nine-play, 80-yard march. Hamilton, who finished with six receptions for 115 yards, contributed two catches, a 26-yarder and a 9-yarder on third-and-3.

McSorley then picked his way through traffic and dove inside the pylon at the left side of the end zone to score.

After a Michigan fumble early in the fourth quarter, McSorley fired to Barkley, who beat linebacker Mike McCray down the right sideline. Barkley made a juggling catch to complete the scoring play and extend PSU's lead to 35-13.

McSorley capped the scoring with a 9-yard run.

NOTES: Saquon Barkley's 100-yard game was the 13th of his career. ... The Nittany Lions, who built a 14-0 lead after a quarter, have outscored their opponents 90-0 in that period this season. They are the only team in the nation to hold their foes scoreless in that quarter to date. ... Before a 1-yard TD run by RB Karan Higdon early in the second quarter, Michigan had notched just six touchdowns on 18 trips into the red zone, the Big Ten's worst conversion rate.

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