No. 4 Penn State put on a show defensively Saturday in Evanston, beating Northwestern handily in a 31-7 rout at Ryan Field.
James Franklin’s Nittany Lions struggled to run the ball again, but had no problem airing it out against an overmatched Wildcat secondary.
How It Happened
Penn State drove into Northwestern territory on its first drive, but failed to convert a fourth and eight attempt, giving the ball back to the Wildcats with good field position. Pat Fitzgerald’s squad marched down to the doorstep before Amani Oruwariye picked off Clayton Thorson to keep things scoreless.
A rare offensive facemask penalty on Justin Jackson saved a touchdown with just over four minutes to go in the first quarter, then Penn State’s defense delivered another turnover. Kevin Givens fell on a Thorson fumble to set up an eventual Tyler Davis field goal from 21 yards out to make it 3-0 Nittany Lions. Penn State has yet to allow a single point in the first quarter this season.
The Nittany Lions stretched their lead to 10-0 early in the second quarter on a 10-yard strike from Trace McSorley to backup quarterback Tommy Stevens. McSorley started the game extremely efficiently, completing 13 of his first 16 passes.
Thorson turned a near safety into a 32-yard gain just before halftime, allowing the Wildcats to take a few shots at the end zone. As time expired, Christian Campbell corralled Penn State’s second interception of the game to send the team into the locker room on a high note. Saquon Barkley was held to negative one yard rushing in the first half, though.
Barkley would go airborne for his first touchdown of the afternoon, spinning into the end zone from the 1-yard line to give Penn State a three-score lead. Davis tacked on the extra point to make it 17-0 with 9:33 left in the third quarter.
Barkley finally broke free on a 53-yard run down the right sideline to give the Nittany Lions a 24-0 lead with 2:13 to play in the third. McSorley would rumble in from 5 yards out with 8:52 to go to extend Penn State’s lead to 31-0. Davis missed a 35-yard field goal wide right with 4:05 on the clock. Backup quarterback Matt Alviti scored Northwestern’s first points of the ballgame on a 1-yard touchdown run.
Player Of The Game
Trace McSorley | Redshirt junior | Quarterback
The Ashburn, Va., native finished 25 of 34 for 245 passing yards and two total touchdowns. At one point, McSorley completed 15 straight passes — a new program record.
The Nittany Lions (6-0), who are now bowl eligible, have a bye week before hosting No. 7 Michigan at Beaver Stadium Oct. 21.