No. 10 Penn State topped Nebraska 56-44 on a rainy Senior Day at Beaver Stadium, securing its first win over the Cornhuskers since 2002.
James Franklin’s Nittany Lions cut Nebraska’s lead in the all-time series to 9-8, as Saquon Barkley scored three touchdowns in what could be his final home game.
How It Happened
Former Penn State and NFL linebacker Tim Shaw, who’s battling ALS, served as an honorary captain during the coin toss. Barkley put the game’s first points on the board with a 65-yard touchdown run just inside the left sideline less than a minute into the contest. Penn State’s defense delivered a nice stop on the ensuing drive, but the Huskers recovered a fumble on the punt.
Tanner Lee, who cleared concussion protocol, marched Nebraska deep into Penn State territory before settling for a 27-yard Drew Brown field goal with 9:18 to go in the first quarter. Blake Gillikin shanked a punt on Penn State’s next drive, setting up a quick scoring drive for the Huskers, as Devine Ozigbo punched it in from the 1-yard line to make it 10-7 Nebraska.
Barkley tied Lydell Mitchell’s program record of 38 career rushing touchdowns on a 1-yard score with 2:40 to go in the first. He would also surpass 1,000 rushing yards for the third straight season. Early in the second quarter, Trace McSorley scored his 69th total touchdown to give the Nittany Lions a 21-10 lead on a 9-yard run. Redshirt freshman Michal Menet rotated in at right guard for Brendan Mahon the next series.
Mike Gesicki broke the Penn State record for touchdowns by a tight end with a 9-yard grab in the left corner of the end zone — the 12th of his career. Barkley tallied his third touchdown of the evening on an 8-yard run. Three minutes later, McSorley found DeAndre Thompkins from 15 yards out to make it 42-10 just before the half.
The Huskers finally broke through for their first points since the 6:17 mark of the first quarter on Mikale Wilbon’s 24-yard touchdown run midway through the third. Nebraska would score again to make it 42-24, as De’Mornay Pierson-El hauled in a 22-yard touchdown catch.
Penn State finished off its second consecutive undefeated season at home despite a shaky fourth quarter showing. Gesicki scored his second touchdown of the day on a 17-yard strike from McSorley, raising his arms in the air in triumph.
Redshirt sophomore tight end Nick Bowers made it 56-24 on his first collegiate catch, a 15-yard touchdown across the middle from Tommy Stevens. Apke was called for targeting late in the fourth quarter and was ejected, meaning he’ll miss the first half against Maryland.
Stanley Morgan and Wilbon scored quick touchdowns for the Huskers, then Jack Stoll rounded out the scoring at 56-44 as time expired. Senior linebacker Brandon Smith led Penn State’s defense with a game-high 13 tackles in the victory, while Juwan Johnson eclipsed the century mark for the first time with 105 yards.
Player Of The Game
Trace McSorley | Redshirt junior | Quarterback
McSorley posted four touchdowns and 371 total yards on 24-of-36 passing.
The Nittany Lions (9-2) head to College Park for their regular season finale against Maryland next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network.