It was a rout from the start — and the Nittany Lions never let up, ousting Georgia State 56-0 on Saturday night at Beaver Stadium.
The Nittany Lions held a 35-point halftime lead, nearly covering the hefty 38.5-point spread after two quarters.
Penn State outgained the Panthers 529-320. Saquon Barkley actually outgained the entire Georgia State offense 185 to 153 in the first half.
It was that kind of night.
Player of the game
Trace McSorley: It’s hard to deny Barkley of the nod. Every single time he touched the ball, Penn State’s star back electrified Beaver Stadium, tallying 226 all-purpose yards. But after a jittery performance a week ago, McSorley’s expected bounce-back showing was impressive. In the first half alone, the quarterback accounted for four touchdowns and 273 yards with a 239.9 quarterback rating. Sure, McSorley was helped out by Barkley’s 85-yard catch-and-run — more on that in a bit — but the quarterback kept his mojo going into the second half. McSorley hit Brandon Polk for a third-quarter score, his fourth passing touchdown of the night. All told, the redshirt junior tallied 309 yards on 18-of-23 passing. It was by far McSorley’s best performance of the young season.
First drive: It didn’t take long to realize this would be a lopsided affair. Barkley ripped off a 37-yard return on the opening kickoff, McSorley led the Nittany Lions down the field going 6-of 6-passing, and Tommy Stevens — yep, Tommy Stevens — caught the series-capping score. It took only the three-minute drive to realize the Panthers were no match.
DaeSean Hamilton: Penn State scored 99 points this season before a wide receiver reached the end zone. That changed in the second quarter of Saturday night’s game. Hamilton hauled in a McSorley pass at Georgia State’s 15-yard line and raced 11 yards untouched before going airborne past safety Antreal Allen for a 27-yard score. Not only was it Penn State’s first touchdown reception by a wide receiver this season, but it also moved Hamilton closer tying Deon Butler’s career receptions mark. Hamilton entered Saturday 12 catches away from breaking the program record, and he gained some ground with three catches against Georgia State.
Barkley’s dash: Stevens’ 35-yard touchdown pass to Saeed Blacknall is option 1B. The redshirt sophomore was popped as he released a perfect ball to the back of the end zone, and Blacknall tracked it somehow. The wideout stuck one foot in the ground as he made a difficult over-the-shoulder catch. But c’mon: Barkley’s are-you-kidding-me run after the catch and eventual 85-yard touchdown could be the opening scene of his Heisman Trophy highlight reel. Barkley caught McSorley’s cross-body pass at Penn State’s own 23-yard line and was off, running free for 20 yards before shimmying a couple defenders. At the Penn State 45-yard line, Barkley jumped outside to the Georgia State sideline and outran three Panthers giving chase. Followed closely behind by Penn State wideout Brandon Polk, Barkley — who progressively got faster as the play went on — skated into the end zone untouched. The 85-yard catch-and-run was the longest play in Penn State history at home, and it further proved that Barkley isn’t human.
Big Ten play: Penn State’s nonconference slate is a wrap, and the Nittany Lions emerged 3-0 as expected. Now comes the hard part: Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions travel to Iowa on Saturday for a night game at Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes are 3-0, but it’s an iffy 3-0. Iowa avoided an upset at the hands of Wyoming, edged rival Iowa State 44-41 and was unimpressive early in its 31-14 win over North Texas.