Penn State has rattled off two impressive home victories against conference opponents who came into Happy Valley unbeaten. Now comes the biggest test yet in 2016, as the unranked Nittany Linos will take on the #2-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday evening.
Ohio State squeaked by a feisty Wisconsin Badger squad in Madison, Wisconsin this past Saturday by a score of 30-23. It took overtime to decide the contest, which can only be good for Penn State heading into this game.
Ohio State is currently a 19 1/2 point favorite in Las Vegas casinos, meaning that they are expected to beat PSU by about three touchdowns. That seems a bit crazy given the fact that they will be playing two consecutive road games, and the Nittany Lions are coming off a bye week.
Nonetheless, the Buckeyes are a very explosive team. Penn State will look to star running back Saquan Barkley to help them control the time of possession and move the ball downfield. If superstar-in-the-making Trace McSorley is able to have a good game and live up to his potential against the most difficult defense he will face this year, PSU could shock the college football world.
At the very least, they have a very good chance of keeping the final tally within three touchdowns. After an unfortunate three-point loss in Pittsburgh in early-September and a forgettable loss at Michigan in late-September, Penn State could conceivably find themselves in a very respectable Bowl game if they are able to run the table against a series of mid-range conference opponents following whatever happens to go down this Saturday.
Although the Maryland Terrapins came into Happy Valley as a three-point favorite in Las Vegas casinos, Penn State ignored the “experts” opinions and hammered away at the previously-undefeated team all afternoon long en route to a 38-14 victory.
State now has a small winning streak of two games in a row after having dispatched of Minnesota at home on the first Saturday in October. They also have a two-game streak of beating undefeated opponents. They will have a chance to best an undefeated conference opponent at home once more when Ohio State comes to town for a game a week from Saturday.
Saturday’s game was close throughout a competitive first half until Maryland quarterback Perry Hills went down with an injury. Trace McSorley and running back Saquan Barkley took over from there. Barkley racked up 202 yards on the ground via 31 carries, and McSorley tucked the ball and ran 18 times for a total of 81 yards. Impressively, Penn State was able to stop the seemingly unstoppable Maryland rushing attack, holding the leading rusher to 76 yards and the entire team to just 170 – 130 yards short of their average coming in. Wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins made some wonderful catches that totaled a 91 yard day.
PSU has both a bye week and even more momentum as they build toward what is easily the biggest game of their season against the #2-ranked Buckeyes. The Nittany Lions outgained Maryland 524 yards to 270, and dominated the time of possession and flow of the game by gaining 28 first downs compared to Maryland’s meager 11.
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The Nittany Lions will have another golden opportunity to slay an undefeated conference opponent this Saturday when the Maryland Terrapins and their 4-0 record come to town. The atmosphere is going to be bonkers, and the team has serious momentum after a victory against a tough Minnesota squad.
State may be ranked low in overall offense in Division 1, but they had sizable amounts of it on display last Saturday. A key to this game will be stud running back Saquan Barkley getting on track much earlier than he did against the Golden Gophers.
The task of moving the ball on the ground won’t be easy for Barkley and Penn State, as Maryland comes into the game with the 31st overall ranked defense against the rush, allowing under 120 yards per game.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful that Penn State can work a consistent game plan and utilize the strong-arm of quarterback Trace McSorley. The sophomore tossed an 80-yard TD last Saturday that got the Nittany Lions back into the game after they had fallen behind and were on the verge of being blown out.
McSorley has thrown for one touchdown in each of his last four games after a two touchdown performance opening weekend in a win against Kent State. PSU has been unable to win consecutive games thus far, and a win against Maryland would make them even more confident heading into a huge showdown two Saturdays from this one against Ohio State in Happy Valley.
Maryland comes in to the affair averaging a staggering 300 yards per game on the ground, but the numbers have been generated against opponents such as Howard and Florida International. If State can stymie the run, it could slow down the Terrapins quickly. Penn State is currently a two point favorite in Las Vegas casinos.
Following a brutal defeat at the hands of the Wolverines in Michigan last week, the Penn State Nittany Lions came into a very important home game against an undefeated conference opponent.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers hopped into Happy Valley with a 3-0 record and plenty of momentum. A loss for Penn State would’ve meant a 2-3 start and plenty of murmurs on and around campus about the future of the coaching staff. But the Nittany Lions bowed their backs and won a highly-entertaining overtime battle by a score of 29-26, pulling within striking distance of conference favorites and building momentum heading into upcoming home games against Maryland and Ohio State.
Saturday’s game was a test of patience for star running back Sequon Barkley, who finished the day with just 63 yards on 20 carries. His biggest tote came on the final play of the game, when he tore through a tired Minnesota Secondary en route to a 25-yard touchdown.
Trace McSorley once again proved that he belongs at the helm of one of the most storied programs in college football. Although his completion rate on the day was slightly less than 50%, he gained 335 yards through the air and was accurate enough to avoid an interception. Wide receiver Chris Godwin was on the business end of four catches for 97 yards. Speedster Irvin Charles caught just one ball on the day, but it was a pivotal second-quarter 80-yard touchdown that effectively got Penn State into the game.
The squad will not have to leave Happy Valley for a game until Halloween weekend, when they play at Purdue. Suddenly, the future looks bright and promising.