We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Penn State sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, baseball or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.
This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Monday, Oct. 31. Let’s get started.
Is the Outback Bowl in Lions’ future?
Penn State became bowl-eligibile Saturday, routing Purdue 62-24 on the road behind Saquon Barkley’s career-high 207-yard rushing effort.
Barkley, who leads the Big Ten with 888 yards on the ground, also had three receptions for 70 yards, giving him a PSU sophomore-record 277 all-purpose yards in the game. And the Lions (6-2) outscored the Boilermakers 45-7 in the second half en route to their highest point total since a 66-10 victory over Coastal Carolina in the 2008 season opener, and their most in a Big Ten game since they generated 63 against Illinois in 2005.
PSU also set a record for points scored by an opponent in Ross-Ade Stadium and equaled a record for points scored by a Purdue opponent in any venue.
All of which allowed Penn State to vault from 24th to 20th in the Associated Press poll, and enter the Coaches Poll for the first time since 2011, at No. 23.
Finally, it means that it is safe to start speculating about bowl destinations. Jerry Palm, identified as the “bowl guru” of CBSSports.com, has the Nittany Lions squaring off with Florida in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2 in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
The Gators, coached by Jim McElwain, are 6-1 and leading the SEC East. It might be remembered that they beat the Lions 37-24 in the Outback Bowl in January 2011, when they were under the direction of Urban Meyer. It was the last bowl game coached by the late Joe Paterno.
More Mahon-sized work at tackle
No, this is not a recording: PSU right tackle Brendan Mahon enjoyed another big day on Saturday, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF, which named Mahon the top player at his position in the country after the victories over Minnesota and Ohio State, calculated that 195 of Barkley’s 207 yards came on 11 runs to Mahon’s side, an average of 17.7 yards per attempt. That includes an 81-yard touchdown burst.
Mahon, the regular left tackle the first six games of the season, was making his second start on the right side. He replaced Andrew Nelson in the second quarter of the Maryland game after Nelson was lost for the season with a knee injury.
Penn State coach James Franklin stands impressed with Mahon’s work, as noted by Derek Levarse of the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader:
“He’s taken that position and really run with it right now. Early in the season he had some growing pains, and he’s learned from it. I’m really proud of him.”
Here’s one more look at Barkley’s big run, courtesy of Sports Thread Big 10’s Twitter feed. Mahon is No. 70.
— Sports Thread BIG10 (@ST_BIG10) October 30, 2016
Golden contribution to secondary
Senior safety Malik Golden has been around the block, writes Frank Bodani of ydr.com. Golden was recruited by Paterno’s staff and played wide receiver under Bill O’Brien. Now the guy nicknamed “Juice Man” provides stability for the secondary.
That dates back to the tenure of Craig Fitzgerald, the strength and conditioning coach under O’Brien. As Golden told Bodani after Saturday’s game, Fitzgerald was attempting to enliven a practice one day when he offered a prize to “whoever brings the juice.”
Golden did so, intercepting two passes during drills that particular day. Fitzgerald rewarded him with a pair of oranges, Golden recalled:
“And he was about to give me the oranges and he smashed them on the ground. He said, ‘That’s your prize. You’re the Juice Man.’ “
Golden had eight tackles Saturday, giving him 49 this season.
Obie being Obie
Bill O’Brien, now the coach of the NFL’s Houston Texans, has always had a feisty side. When he was the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator, he engaged in a memorable sideline shouting match with quarterback Tom Brady during a game in 2011.
And when his first Penn State team outlasted Wisconsin a year later, he called the Lions “fighters” (or something like that). It should come as no surprise that O’Brien was seen screaming at special teams coordinator Larry Izzo when the Texans had to burn a timeout after having 10 men on the field during the first half of Sunday’s 20-13 victory over Detroit.
Here’s video, via The Big Lead’s Twitter feed:
VIDEO: Bill O'Brien Restrained While Yelling at Special Teams Coach on Sidelines https://t.co/RscJCbcakc
— The Big Lead (@thebiglead) October 30, 2016