Penn State rolls over Iowa in rout

Penn State's Saquon Barkley (26) races to the end zone for a touchdown against Iowa during the first half of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Chris Knight)

Penn State's Saquon Barkley (26) races to the end zone for a touchdown against Iowa during the first half of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Chris Knight)

STATE COLLEGE — First, Saquon Barkley flipped over Iowa safety Brandon Snyder for an 8-yard gain in the first quarter.

Then, he broke a 57-yard touchdown out of a keeper fake from Trace McSorley, cutting out of the backfield past Snyder and two other defenders then outrunning two more at the goal line.

Then, he caught a 44-yard touchdown from Trace McSorley and started to high-step his way past Iowa defender Bo Bower into the end zone early in the fourth quarter.

The Nittany Lion sophomore finished with 167 yards on 20 carries, surpassing 1,000 yards in a season for the second time in No. 20 Penn State’s 41-14 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes Saturday night at Beaver Stadium.

Coach James Franklin remembered a 13-yard run for a first down that led to a third-quarter field goal.

“He got spun around and the guy was tackling him from behind, and he knew he was going backwards and still went by the guy,” said Franklin. “I don’t know if he’s looking at the jumbotron, but the guy comes in low and he knows he’s coming and he hurdles him backwards.”

It’s the Nittany Lions’ (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten East) first five-game win streak in conference play since 2011 in the last five games of Joe Paterno’s career. Penn State also had 5-game win streaks in 2012 and 2015 that included non-conference games. That 2011 win streak went seven games and also included two non-conference wins before Paterno was fired.

The 1994 unbeaten Rose Bowl team is Penn State’s only one to win six straight Big Ten games in the same season, something this team can do next Saturday at Indiana. The school’s only other six-game conference win streaks came in 1998-99 and 2005-06.

“Guys are playing hard now, one play at a time,” said Franklin, pleased with most everything except nine penalties for 86 yards. “The championship standard. We were talking the average play lasts six seconds and can you give your best for attitude and effort in those six seconds? They’re doing that.”

Perhaps the only other downer for the Nittany Lions after Saturday is the realization that their longshot Big Ten title game hopes that rested in part on Iowa beating Michigan next week looks even less likely. Penn State needs to win out, then have Iowa beat Michigan and Ohio State beat Michigan and then claim the tiebreaker over the Buckeyes to appear in Indianapolis on Dec. 3.

But first things first, and first was perhaps the best full game Penn State has played to date. They needed overtime to beat Minnesota, they thoroughly outplayed a Maryland team now in decline, they needed a fourth-quarter defense and special teams rally to beat Ohio State, and started slow last week at Purdue.

Penn State outgained the Hawkeyes, 599-234, and held them to 30 rushes on 26 carries. Joe Moorhead’s offense held a 10-minute edge in possession and ran 18 more plays. The Lions’ 7 of 14 success on third down was also a season-best.

“You can see it in the defense’s demeanor,” said Barkley. “When they’re pressured, that’s good. Coach Moorhead talks about killer instinct. You want to get up early and step on them.”

COMMENTS