The Land of 10 staff will vote on a Big Ten Power Poll every Sunday during the 2017 college football season. Penn State analyst Tyler Donohue is among 13 voters. He’ll provide his thoughts here each week.
Penn State kept its spot atop of our Land of 10 Power Poll following another no-doubt-about-it victory. The Nittany Lions scored 35 first-half points against Georgia State on Saturday night and surged to a 56-0 win.
James Franklin led his squad to a second shutout victory in three games, and eight Penn State players scored a touchdown. Though their out-of-conference schedule wasn’t daunting, the Nittany Lions delivered an early statement by outscoring opponents 141-14 during those matchups.
As I wrote Saturday night, Penn State features two of college football’s top 10 Heisman Trophy candidates in running back Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley. Yes, it’s still way too early to declare any player a legitimate Heisman front-runner, but these two are on a roll that began in 2016.
McSorley, who tallied 333 total yards and 5 touchdowns in three quarters on Saturday night, has thrown a touchdown in 18 consecutive games. During this span, the redshirt junior has rushed and thrown for a score in nine contests. He has 11 touchdowns this month.
Barkley, who capped his sophomore season with 250 yards and 3 touchdowns against USC in the Rose Bowl, surpassed 200 all-purpose yards on Saturday. His highlight play occurred late in the first quarter, when he took a short completion from McSorley 85 yards for a touchdown.
You serious, @saquonb21?
— Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) September 17, 2017
This backfield duo gives Penn State a pick-your-poison scenario on each play, while weapons surround this group in the Nittany Lions’ offensive attack. Mike Gesicki has matched the expectations created by preseason All-America notoriety, catching 4 touchdown passes through three games. Receivers DaeSean Hamilton and Juwan Johnson lead a deep rotation of receivers. Add the compelling wrinkle of packages with backup quarterback Tommy Stevens (1 touchdown reception and 1 touchdown toss against Georgia State), and this offense seemingly implements more playmakers than any unit in Big Ten play.
Meanwhile, the defense has surrendered only 1 touchdown through 12 quarters, producing turnovers at a high rate. The Nittany Lions defense features veterans at all three levels, while young contributors continue to gain experience heading into conference competition.
Based on what we’ve seen across the Big Ten this season, there simply isn’t a case to be made for better balance in each phase of the game. We’ll learn a lot more about the Nittany Lions moving forward, as Iowa awaits Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Week 3 Land of 10 Power Poll vote totals
1. Penn State (13 first-place votes) … 169 points
2. Ohio State … 147
3. Michigan … 146
4. Wisconsin … 136
5. Iowa … 102
6. Maryland … 98
7. Minnesota … 93
8. Purdue … 74
9. Indiana … 67
10. Michigan State … 66
11. Northwestern … 42
12. Nebraska … 27
13. Illinois … 13
14. Rutgers … 3