Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Saquon Barkley added a few more brushstrokes to his 2017 masterpiece when he rolled to 161 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns as the No. 2 Penn State Nittany Lions thrashed the No. 19 Michigan Wolverines 42-13 on Saturday night at Beaver Stadium.
Looking the part of the Heisman Trophy front-runner, Barkley rushed 15 times for 108 yards and two scores while catching three passes for 53 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown grab early in the fourth quarter that was the product of a personal tip drill:
Another week, another Saquon highlight 😯 https://t.co/8wMrrPEvVi
According to Optimum Scouting’s Eric Galko, Barkley became the first player in Penn State history to reach 3,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards for his career by virtue of the complete performance.
It wasn’t always a given that Barkley would gash Michigan’s front, considering the Wolverines entered Saturday’s Big Ten tilt wielding the nation’s ninth-ranked scoring defense (14.7 points per game) and sixth-ranked rushing defense (85.8 yards per game), but the Nittany Lions used the bye week to their advantage and debuted some new offensive wrinkles to keep the points flowing.
Take the game’s second play, for instance, when Penn State opted for a direct snap to Barkley—who used one simple cutback move to find daylight and accelerate 69 yards to the house:
Well that was quick. Saquon Barkley already doing his thing for the Nittany Lions. https://t.co/AsdRTuoDib
Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman provided some staggering statistical perspective on the score, while Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller didn’t hesitate to peg Barkley as the nation’s top prospect in real time:
Saquon Barkley just rushed for more yards (69) on his first carry than three of the six teams Michigan's faced this year got.
That's a 230 pound man running a 4.3. Best player in the draft. #Saquon
Four minutes later, Barkley added a 15-yard touchdown run to his ledger to help propel the Nittany Lions in front by 14 points.
The Wolverines countered with 13 unanswered points in the second quarter behind touchdown runs from Karan Higdon and Ty Isaac, but that was as close as head coach Jim Harbaugh’s bunch would get.
The Nittany Lions outscored Michigan 21-0 in the second half, and they simply ran away with the win as quarterback Trace McSorley did loads of damage.
Using a towering receiving corps to his advantage, McSorley completed 17-of-26 passes for 282 yards and a touchdown while relying primarily on Barkley, tight end Mike Gesicki and senior wideout DaeSean Hamilton to come down with contested catches in traffic.
McSorley was also stellar on the ground and produced three scores with his legs, including a powerful burst through the second level to help put Penn State up 29 midway through the fourth quarter, as Big Ten Network documented on Twitter:
Big Ten Network@BigTenNetwork
.@McSorley_IX lowers the shoulder, and this one's all over but the handshakes. Dominance from @PennStateFball: https://t.co/g2kyQQkqyK
Michigan signal-caller John O’Korn countered with 166 passing yards of his own and made some impressive touch throws facing pressure, but the Wolverines couldn’t conjure up the explosive plays necessary to keep pace.
Having lost two of their last three, the Wolverines will head back to the drawing board and attempt to right the ship when they return home for a Week 9 clash against Rutgers.
The Nittany Lions, on the other hand, will pack their bags and embark on a road trip to the Horseshoe with a titanic showdown looming against the sixth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes that figures to have major playoff implications.
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