PSU notebook: McSorley tosses 4 touchdowns

Members of the Penn State football team celebrate and pose for photos after defeating Michigan State on Saturday at Beaver Stadium to earn a trip to the Big Ten Championship next week. (PATRICK WAKSMUNSKI/For The Sun-Gazette)

STATE COLLEGE –Highlights, low lights and in-betweens of Penn State’s game Saturday at Beaver Stadium, a 45-12 Nittany Lion victory over Michigan State:

PLAY OF THE GAME: Trace McSorley boot-legged left and threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Mike Gesicki in double coverage at the goal line for a 24-12 lead midway through the third quarter.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: McSorley finished 17 for 23 for a career-high 386 yards and four touchdowns. His passing accounted for 83 percent of the Lions’ offense .

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Brandon Bell finished with a career-high 18 tackles, with one pass break-up.

SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE GAME: Michigan State kicker Michael Geiger was 4 for 4 on field goals, his team’s only points.

MICHIGAN STATE PLAYER OF THE GAME: R.J. Shelton was the Spartans’ lone top threat to make it the whole game, catching five passes for 74 yards and running three times for 15 yards. He also completed one pass back to quarterback Damion Terry for 15 yards.

CENTRAL MOUNTAIN: Von Walker is out for the season, but he was one of the seniors honored pregame and was the only player to speak on the stage during the post-game Land Grant trophy ceremony.

LEWISBURG: Brandon Smith finished with five tackles, including half of one for a loss.

JULIUS: Things were pretty routine for Penn State’s kickoff man, as four of his eight kicks were touchbacks and he wasn’t involved in any big collisions again.

BEST RUN: Saquon Barkley leaped about 10 feet through the air over the line for his second-quarter touchdown run.

BEST PASS: The timing was the best part of McSorley’s 34-yard lob go-ahead touchdown to Chris Godwin at the pylon for a 17-12 lead early in the third quarter.

BEST CATCH: DaeSean Hamilton reached up on near triple coverage for a 16-yard gain to open a second-quarter drive.

BEST KICK: Blake Gillikin’s fourth-quarter punt sailed 42 yards and was downed at the MSU 2, pinning the Spartans deep after three consecutive PSU scoring drives to open the second half.

WORST PENALTY: A fourth-quarter pass interference on John Reid was the only penalty against Penn State all game.

BEST MOMENT: Action stopped in the first quarter for fans to celebrate Ohio State beating Michigan as Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” played on the public address.

BEST CALL: Keeping the Ohio State score away from his players by not broadcasting the game or putting it on the out of town scores seemed to help Penn State’s focus. Besides, most interested fans could follow the game on their phones.

HIDDEN STAT: Michigan State’s near nine-minute edge in time of possession didn’t matter because the Spartans were outgained in the second half, 338-87.

TELLING STAT: Michigan State ran 88 plays to Penn State’s 57, but none reached the end zone.

MISLEADING STAT: Michigan State was 4 for 4 in the red zone, while the Lions were only 3 for 4 because the last play of the game put them there again.

BEST TACKLE: Garrett Sickels stopping Spartan quarterback Damion Terry on a second-and-goal keeper on the Spartans’ first drive set a tone for the rest of the first half.

WHAT’S HE THINKING?: Even though Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio wondered if PSU’s late throwing was related to the 55-16 Spartan win last year, James Franklin insisted it was because Penn State couldn’t run Saturday and Michigan State’s defensive setup made it vulnerable to the pass. So the Nittany Lions kept throwing to protect their lead.

PERSONNEL: Saquon Barkley did not return after being pulled in the second half with an apparent lower-leg injury, and James Franklin sounded cautiously and vaguely optimistic. “He’ll have great week and prepare based on what I know,” said Franklin. Terry and tailback L.J. Scott, instrumental in building the Spartans’ early lead, were knocked out of the game in the second quarter .

MILESTONES: This is Penn State’s first Big Ten division title since sharing the Leaders Division with Wisconsin in 2011, though the Badgers won the head-to-head matchup in the regular-season finale… PSU’s eight-game win streak overall is its longest since 2008… Barkley (102) and Tyler Davis (123) both have more than 100 points scored, the first time in school history with multiple 100-point scorers… McSorley joined Chuck Burkhart (1968), Tom Shuman (1973) and Darryl Clark (2008) as first-year PSU quarterbacks with 10 wins in their first year starting… Gesicki has 610 receiving yards, the most in a season in school history, passing Mickey Shuler (600, 1977).

BEST QUOTE: Franklin claimed he didn’t hear a word on stage from athletic director Sandy Barbour or school president Eric Barron in the postgame on-field Land Grant trophy ceremony. “I don’t know, it was like the mom on Charlie Brown on the phone,” said Franklin. “I wasn’t paying attention.”

NEXT WEEK: Penn State plays Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game at 8:17 p.m. on Saturday in Indianapolis on FOX.