Coincidence or not, Penn State fell to the Wildcats, 23-21, so this week Franklin has made sure his team sticks to its normal routine, and per Callahan he said practice has been "excellent" this week. Northwestern has won the last two meetings, most recently a 23-21 victory November 7, 2015, on a 35-yard field goal with nine seconds remaining. McSorley has completed 105 of 160 passes for 1,352 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. He is 5 for 11, making only 45.5% of his attempts.
Then it dawned on me.The guy who set the Penn State record for passing yards and passing touchdowns in a season in 2016, the guy who threw for 384 yards and four touchdowns in the Big Ten title game a year ago, the guy who has thrown a touchdown pass in 20 consecutive games might be underrated, underappreciated or both.Nittany Lions coach James Franklin and offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, both aware of the underworld on social media, felt compelled to strongly defend McSorley in separate interviews in the last week.It's hard to believe.McSorley leads the Big Ten with 270.4 passing yards and 306.2 total yards per game. So while Penn State may not have a better season on paper than it did in 2016, the Nittany Lions might be closer to those national title dreams than they were before the season began.
CBS Sports analyst Jerry Palm has stuck with Ohio State over Penn State to claim a playoff bid in his weekly bowl projections.
Justin Jackson now sits at 4,402 career rushing yards and needs just 83 yards to overtake Damien Anderson as the program's all-time leader. Same can be said for Scott, a reserve safety, and backup linebacker Cam Brown, both of whom have become special teams stars. Penn State does have a leg up because of its trip to the Bahamas this summer, which included extra practices and two exhibition games.
4 Penn State travels to Evanston, Ill., to take on the Northwestern Wildcats for the first time since 2015. Barkley has responded as the team's leading receiver so far with 386 yards on 27 catches.
Barkley may not have had a dominant afternoon running the football against IN last week, but the Heisman Trophy candidate proved why he is so risky by returning a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and recording his first career touchdown pass as well. Former head coach Bill O'Brien relied more on his so-called "run-on" players to man many of those key spots.
He bolstered his Heisman Trophy candidacy with stunning highlights in the process - like catching an overthrown ball one-handed, well behind the line of scrimmage, and turning it into a 36-yard gain to spark a touchdown drive in the first quarter. Barkley was held in check as a rusher, but had a hand in a second touchdown when he threw a scoring pass to wideout DaeSean Hamilton on a trick play.
Fitzgerald's biggest worry is surrendering the big play. The Wildcats posted wins over Nevada (31-20) and Bowling Green (49-7), while their losses have come against Duke (41-17) and No. 10 Wisconsin (33-24).
"He's got great vision, he's got great balance, he's got great speed, and he's got great toughness", Fitzgerald said. This year, he has 64 carries for 273 yards and four touchdowns.
"I think he's pretty much better in every metric possible", the Penn State coach said when asked to compare Trace McSorley's performance from this time a year ago. He is second only to Trace McSorley (270.4) in passing yards per game (265.3). "We've missed some tackles, especially early on and there's somebody right there".
"The tight ends, we're excited about the development", Franklin said. Veteran Andrew Nelson was coming off a knee injury and saw some playing time, but the coaching staff has settled on Will Fries as the team's third tackle.
"It's the little things", Franklin said. The Lions are 77th in sacks allowed after in dropped Trace McSorley five times last week.