GLENDALE, Ariz. — We’ll always have Phoenix, Saquon.
How apropos that what could be the final game in a Penn State uniform for one of Nittany Lions’ all-time greats happened in a contest sponsored by a video game company.
Because Saquon Barkley, bless him, never seemed … real.
He was more like a gift from the Greek god of pixels; Crash Bandicoot in cleats; the living, breathing answer to the eternal question of, ‘If Bo Jackson from Tecmo Bowl were human, which human would he be?’
We’ll always have the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.
We’ll always have Lions 35, Washington 28.
We’ll always have Right Stick flick right; Right Stick flick left; R2, R2, R2, R2, Triangle:
— Cosmic #BeatWashington (@CosmicNYG) December 30, 2017
#Hewas … magic.
Penn State’s star junior ran for 137 yards — including a 92-yard touchdown jaunt midway through the second quarter — to help pull the No. 9 Nittany Lions over the line at University of Phoenix Stadium.
A consensus top-15 draft projection, Barkley — who tied the program record for the longest scoring run in Lions history and now owns the longest touchdown run ever recorded in a Fiesta Bowl — had said he wouldn’t announce until after the contest whether he’d forgo his senior season.
Smart money says the money wins. Even if that money belongs to the Cleveland Browns.
If this really is the end of the road, Saturday was one hell of a farewell kiss.
We’ll always have the spins, the cuts on a dime.
We’ll always have dump screens that threatened to take our breath away.
We’ll always have one last hurdle, early in the fourth quarter.
Saquon Barkley hurdles will never get old https://t.co/QpAoPbBuCd
— Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB) December 30, 2017
#Hewas … an irresistible force. Who takes names. Washington’s defense had allowed only one play longer than 40 yards during the regular season. The Lions had piled up a pair of them by halftime — one by Barkley, both for scores.
The Huskies came into the weekend having allowed a miserly 92.3 rushing yards per contest, the stingiest run defense in the FBS. Barkley and company torched the immovable object to the tune of 148 via the ground on 18 carries — after only two quarters.
Linebackers came free for the Huskies, early and often. But new offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne made Washington pay for its aggression at the outset as Penn State marched 83 yards on its first possession in just 3:36, capping the drive on a 48-yard rainbow from Trace McSorley to DaeSean Hamilton for the score.
These Lions were the first-half-at-Ohio-State Lions, attacking without any fear of reproach. The playbook was a blank canvas, and every brush stroke was fair game. Penn State piled up 9 first downs over the game’s first 13 minutes.
Barkley half-helicoptered into the end zone from 2 yards out with 1:34 left in the first quarter to cap an 11-play, 64-yard drive that put Penn State up 13-0.
At that point, the Lions had completed more shovel passes (2) than the Huskies had accumulated yards (minus-5).
No last-minute backing out.
No business decisions.
Hats off to Saquon, you’ve gained a fan today. Glad to see one of the best in the game show out for his team. Many guys sitting out during bowl games and he gives it all he has to hand a butt kicking to my hometown dawgs. Best of luck in the league!
— Trevor madison (@Tmad_12) December 30, 2017
#Hewas … a legend. To the last.