Following their performances in “The Grand Daddy of Them All,” ESPN ranked a handful of Penn State football players in their Big Ten All-Bowl Team. In a game where both players and viewers broke records, Penn State snagged five selections. Each Big Ten team that played in a bowl game has at least one representative on the list, but Penn State’s five tied Wisconsin for the most from any school.
QB Trace McSorley
Completing 18 of 29 passes for 254 yards and throwing four touchdowns landed McSorley a spot on the list, despite early missteps and a terminal late game interception. His performance went further than statistics — an athletic escape from pressure culminating in a touchdown pass to Chris Godwin in the third quarter comes to mind. McSorley starred in the Rose Bowl after setting Penn State’s single-season record for yards of offense this season with 3,614 and 29 touchdowns for the Lions.
RB Saquon Barkley
The writers at ESPN claim Barkley’s 79-yard touchdown run in the third quarter as “one of the best we’ve ever seen.” Barkley rushed for 194 yards on 25 carries, which was a Penn State yardage record in a bowl game. He also notched two touchdowns and caught five passes for 55 yards. In Big Ten bowl comparison, Barkley outperformed entire teams by himself. Wisconsin had 184 yards rushing total in the Cotton Bowl, Iowa had 171 rushing yards in the Outback Bowl, and Ohio State rushed for 88 yards in the Fiesta Bowl. Barkley outperformed all five USC running backs by a combined 72 yards.
WATCH: Amazing Saquon Barkley 79-yard TD run gives Penn State its first lead in the Rose Bowl. https://t.co/gCnWMMpGlT
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) January 3, 2017
WR Chris Godwin
Godwin earned his spot as one of the best performers from the Big Ten when he caught a bobbling pass for a 72-yard touchdown to give Penn State a 35-27 lead early in the third quarter. With another touchdown on his stat sheet in the game from an earlier reception that forced Godwin to tip-toe and roll out of the back corner of the endzone, his 187 yards receiving on 9 receptions show how the wide receiver stepped up for the team while it was missing a suspended Saeed Blacknall. Godwin declared for the NFL Draft following the game.
OL Ryan Bates
The redshirt freshman stepped up this year to play with some of the best competition in the country in the trenches and showed why he belongs in the Big Ten. The entire line only surrendered 23 sacks in the regular season, a huge step up from the 83 it let up the previous two seasons combined. Seeing the field in September for the first time at Penn State, Bates quickly picked it up and will come back to play next year with five other offensive linemen who have starting experience.
P Blake Gillikin
Gillikin’s longest punt of the game was a 65-yarder and in total he punted for 254 yards on five punts. The freshman punted for 2611 yards total in the 2016 season and his career long is 69 yards against Pittsburgh.