Barkley expected to play in conference championship

STATE COLLEGE – Standout running back Saquon Barkley is expected to play for Penn State this week against Wisconsin, which also has a major injury concern of its own.

“We’re confident he’s playing,” coach James Franklin said Sunday afternoon. “But for me to tell you right now how he’s looking, I don’t know.”

Barkley suffered a right foot or ankle injury in the third quarter that knocked him out of Saturday’s win over Michigan State. Franklin talked with the running back Sunday but did not offer up any specifics.

Badgers QB hurt

Wisconsin could be without starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook after he took a hit to the head that knocked him out of Saturday’s win over Minnesota.

“He was just in the office 15 minutes ago and says he’s feeling good and feeling a lot better than he did yesterday,” Badgers coach Paul Chryst said during the Big Ten coaches teleconference Sunday. “On these you truly take it day by day and see where he’s at.”

Hornibrook, a freshman, was not the starter to open the season but eventually took over the job from senior Bart Houston. If Hornibrook can’t go against Penn State, then Houston would be in charge of the offense.

Houston has completed 64 percent of his passes for 912 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. Hornibrook hasn’t been overly effective, completing 58 percent for 1,243 yards with eight TDs and seven interceptions.

The Badgers, of course, don’t rely heavily on their passing game since they have a strong offensive line and standout running back in Corey Clement.

Franklin back in Indy

Franklin got some experience at the Big Ten championship game last season, even though he wasn’t coaching. He worked as an analyst for FOX.

“Being at that game and watching that game and how it played out, what the environment was like, I thought it was a valuable experience for me,” he said.

Positive perception

Franklin was asked what this season’s success will do for recruiting, and he acknowledged that it “definitely has changed some conversations.”

“We have a lot of things that recruits and families were looking for,” he said before noting that some “needed to see a little bit more evidence” that the program was going in the right direction.

Franklin said he wishes he had 15 more scholarships to give out for the current class, but that’s not the case since most of the Lions’ spots have been filled.

Bell honored

Linebacker Brandon Bell was named the national Defensive Player of the Week by the Walter Camp Foundation after recording 18 tackles in Saturday’s win. He had half a tackle for loss and broke up one pass.