Elliott, Barkley square off as Cow­boys, Gi­ants seek first win

Texarkana Gazette - - SPORTS - By Schuyler Dixon

AR­LING­TON, Texas— Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley are friends from their days as foes at Ohio State and Penn State.

Now that they're set to share the field for the first time as pros, the run­ning back of the Dal­las Cow­boys re­mem­bers his only col­lege en­counter with Barkley, the promis­ing rookie of the New York Gi­ants.

To wit, the match­ing hur­dle plays that Elliott re­calls when Barkley was a fresh­man for the Nit­tany Lions and out­gained the reign­ing of­fen­sive MVP from the first cham­pi­onship game in the four-team play­off era a season ear­lier. Elliott's Buck­eyes got the big­ger

prize, a 38-10 win.

“I went out and hur­dled a guy and lit­er­ally the next drive he comes back and hur­dles one of our guys,” Elliott said. “That was pretty cool to me just to see him come back and do the same thing.”

Just as in that sce­nario three years ago, Elliott is the es­tab­lished star af­ter lead­ing the NFL in rush­ing as a rookie in 2016, and Barkley is the firstyear up­start. As for the big­ger prize Sun­day night, the NFC East ri­vals need the win with both com­ing off season-open­ing losses.

“We don’t worry about that,” first-year Gi­ants coach Pat Shur­mur said. “That’s fun for ev­ery­body to talk about out­side the build­ing. We didn’t do enough in the first game to win the game, and we’re work­ing to do what we can to win this next one. Pe­riod. End of story.”

It could be just the start of the Elliott-Barkley story. Friends since that night in Colum­bus, Ohio, af­ter Barkley rushed for 194 yards while Elliott had 153 yards and a touch­down, they are now among the most im­por­tant pieces for sto­ried fran­chises try­ing to get back to the Su­per Bowl.

And each was the first run­ning back taken in his draft: Elliott fourth over­all in 2016 and Barkley at No. 2 this year.

“They’re pow­er­fully built guys,” Shur­mur said. “When I say ‘col­li­sion bal­ance,’ in the hole, guys bounc­ing off, and they can keep their bal­ance. (Elliott’s) pro­duc­tion in his first two years had noth­ing to do with us se­lect­ing Saquon, but they’re sim­i­lar in a lot of ways.”

As­so­ci­ated Press

■ To­day's game will be the first pro meet­ing be­tween the new NFC East ri­vals and the top run­ning backs cho­sen in two of the past three drafts when Dal­las Cow­boys' Ezekiel Elliott and New York Gi­ants' Saquon Barkley meet.

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