Penn State was eliminated from a return to the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday but the Nittany Lions continue to play like a conference bully at Beaver Stadium. Led by quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley, Penn State pounded Nebraska early and cruised to a 56-44 victory.
Barkley and McSorley combined for 7 total touchdowns vs. the Cornhuskers, helping the Nittany Lions build a 42-10 lead at halftime. It was the most points posted by Penn State before intermission since 2005, and confidence continues to grow as a pair of painful losses fall further in the rear-view mirror.
Afterward, players expressed confidence about the team’s ability to finish this 2017 season strong and set the stage for another offseason of high expectations. The Nittany Lions have won 14 straight games at home, outscoring Big Ten opponents by 21.2 points per game in the process.
Penn State, now 9-2 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten, remains the No. 3 team in our latest Land of 10 Power Poll, released Sunday. For a third straight week, the Nittany Lions look up at unbeaten Wisconsin and Big Ten east division camp Ohio State, in that order.
Penn State suffered back-to-back losses to Ohio State and Michigan State following a 7-0 start. Prior to those defeats, the Nittany Lions rose to No. 2 in national rankings and sat atop this Power Poll for seven straight weeks.
The Nittany Lions returned into the top 10 in College Football Playoff rankings last week following a rebound victory against Rutgers. Another dominant effort vs. Nebraska should give Penn State a shot to climb further Tuesday night when updated rankings are revealed.
There were a few notable individual achievements for the Nittany Lions on Saturday:
Senior tight end Mike Gesicki caught 2 touchdowns and is now No. 1 all-time in program history for scoring receptions among tight ends (13). Barkley became Penn State’s career leader in rushing touchdowns (39), scoring 3 times against the Huskers. Meanwhile, McSorley threw at least one touchdown pass for a 26th straight game. He now has 34 total scores through 11 games.
Penn State wraps up its regular-season schedule Saturday afternoon at Maryland. A road victory would give the Nittany Lions a double-digit win total for the second straight year. It would be the first time this feat is accomplished at Penn State since 2009.
A season-ending three-game win streak would also put Penn State in excellent position to compete in a New Year’s Six bowl.