Penn State heads to Big 10 title game af­ter dis­patch­ing Spar­tans, 45-12

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Travis John­son

STATE COL­LEGE >> Trace McSor­ley has got­ten used to see­ing ex­tra de­fend­ers crowd­ing the line of scrim­mage this sea­son and he’s be­come adept at tak­ing ad­van­tage of it

With an­other de­fense sell­ing out to stop star run­ning back Saquon Barkley, McSor­ley com­pleted 17 of 23 passes for 376 yards and four touch­downs to lead No. 8 Penn State to a 45-12 vic­tory over Michi­gan State and the Big Ten East title Satur­day.

Penn State (10-2, 8-1 Big Ten, No. 7 CFP) edged No. 2 Ohio State for the East title, set­ting up a con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game against West win­ner Wis­con­sin next week in In­di­anapo­lis. The Nit­tany Lions beat the Buck­eyes 24-20 at home Oct. 22.

“It’s al­most like pick your poi­son,” McSor­ley said. “We’ve got so many weapons out­side, if you want to try to load the box to stop Saquon and our run game, we’ve got enough weapons out­side and if you want to try and stop that, we’ve got one of the best run­ning backs in the coun­try. He’s go­ing to do what he does.”

But Barkley couldn’t get go­ing and even­tu­ally left the game with a right leg in­jury.

The Spar­tans (3-9, 1-8) stacked the line of scrim­mage and held Barkley to 9 yards in the first half

on nine car­ries. Mean­while, Michael Geiger kicked four field goals, the last giv­ing Michi­gan State a 12-10 half­time lead.

McSor­ley, who set a school record for to­tal of­fense in a sea­son (3,348), and his speedy, phys­i­cal re­ceivers took over in the third quar­ter. The shifty, dual-threat quar­ter­back threw deep touch­down passes on three straight drives to cue Penn State’s 35-0 sec­ond half.

“Dis­ap­point­ing out­come to a dis­ap­point­ing sea­son,” Michi­gan State coach Mark Dan­to­nio said. “Thought we played very well in the first half, es­pe­cially the first quar­ter, came out and es­tab­lished our­selves early on but drove down the field four straight times and had to set­tle for field goals.”

McSor­ley found Chris God­win down the side­line for 34 yards on Penn State’s first sec­ond-half pos­ses­sion and fol­lowed it with a 45-yarder to Mike Gesicki. God­win got loose down the mid­dle min­utes later and McSor­ley hit him in stride for 59 yards to give Penn State a 31-12 lead.

“Trace did a great job of giv­ing me a great, catch­able ball and af­ter that point, it’s just fin­ish­ing the play,” God­win said.

An­dre Robin­son added a 14-yard touch­down run and caught a 40-yard pass from McSor­ley to com­plete the scor­ing in the fourth quar­ter, and Barkley scored on a 1-yard run in the sec­ond. Barkley left in the third quar­ter with an ap­par­ent right leg in­jury and did not re­turn.

Tyler Davis added a sec­ond-quar­ter field goal for Penn State which won its eighth straight game.

“It’s been spe­cial,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “I think this team, the con­nec­tion and the bond they have for each other, we’ve over­achieved and we keep over­achiev­ing.”

Bend but don’t break

The Spar­tans moved against Penn State’s de­fense un­til they pushed into the red zone. Michi­gan State mounted four long first-half drives of at least 11 plays but had to set­tle for Geiger’s kicks each time.

The Spar­tans never got into the red zone af­ter Geiger’s fi­nal field goal, man­aged just 87 yards in the sec­ond half, lost a fum­ble and al­lowed three sacks.

“We were pissed off that they got down there and we knew once our feet were set, they weren’t do­ing any­thing spe­cial that could re­ally keep us on our heels,” line­backer Bran­don Bell said.

Eyes on Barkley

Barkley was helped to the side­line by train­ing staff in the third quar­ter and didn’t re­turn. He had a towel over his head while he sat on the train­ing ta­ble.

Franklin, who only con­firms in­juries if a player is out for the sea­son, said he ex­pects Barkley to prac­tice and pre­pare as he would nor­mally from the in­for­ma­tion he had at the end of the game.

Poll Im­pli­ca­tions

Penn State: The Nit­tany Lions will get an­other shot to im­press the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee in the Big Ten cham­pi­onship game. As for a shake up right now, the ques­tion is how far will No. 3 Michi­gan fall hav­ing lost two of its last three, in­clud­ing a dou­ble-over­time game at Ohio State.

The Big Pic­ture

Michi­gan State: The Spar­tans’ run of nine straight sea­sons with a bowl ap­pear­ance un­der Dan­to­nio was snapped weeks ago. Their chance to play spoiler was hin­dered by more in­juries Satur­day. Dan­to­nio’s squad, which started dif­fer­ent line­ups on both sides of the ball in ev­ery game, lost start­ing quar­ter­back Damion Terry (con­cus­sion), guard Bran­don Cle­mons and TE Josiah Price. Run­ning back LJ Scott hurt his right leg in the first half, and although he re­turned, was not ef­fec­tive.

Penn State: With in­juries mount­ing, Penn State ap­peared des­tined for an­other ho-hum sea­son at best af­ter a Week 4 loss to Michi­gan dropped the Nit­tany Lions to 2-2. The vibes were bad enough that ath­letic di­rec­tor Sandy Bar­bour had to pub­licly re­fute spec­u­la­tion that Franklin’s seat was hot. Franklin’s team re­cov­ered and hasn’t lost since that af­ter­noon in Ann Ar­bor. Of even more sig­nif­i­cance is Penn State got it done with one of the youngest ros­ters in the coun­try. It’ll lose just 17 se­niors and re­turn many key con­trib­u­tors next sea­son.


Penn State’s Ma­lik Golden hoists the Big Ten East divi­sion tro­phy af­ter de­feat­ing Michi­gan State on Satur­day.


Penn State wide re­ceiver Chris God­win scores on a 34yard touch­down from quar­ter­back Trace McSor­ley in the third quar­ter Satur­day.


Penn State’s Kevin Givens (30) sacks Michi­gan State quar­ter­back Tyler O’Con­nor dur­ing the sec­ond half Satur­day.

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