Penn State running back Saquon Barkley may not have had a dynamite day running the football, but he once again demonstrated how lethal he can be in other ways. Barkley returned the game’s opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and threw a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter as No. 4 Penn State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) started fast and finished strongly against Indiana (2-2, 0-2 Big Ten) in a 45-14 win.
Barkley carried the football 20 times but was limited to 56 yards by the Indiana defense. But Barkley added four catches for 51 yards and completed a 16-yard pass to DaeSean Hamilton on top of his 98-yard kick return for 221 all-purpose yards. Hamilton also made some Penn State history by becoming the school’s all-time leading receiver with 180 career receptions. He also scored three touchdowns in the game. Trace McSorley had a somewhat rough outing but still managed to end the game with 315 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air, and he added one rushing touchdown as well.
Outside of the first quarter, in which Penn State put a 28-0 lead on the board, the Hoosiers played fairly well. But four turnovers proved to be too much against Penn State, with three turnovers leading to a Penn State touchdown. The Hoosiers also seemed to make a switch at quarterback from Richard Lagow (7-of-15, 97 yards) to Peyton Ramsey (8-of-17, 78 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). Lagow may have gotten banged up but he continued to toss the football on the sideline in the second half alongside Ramsey.
Penn State will be back on the road for the second time in three weeks of Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions head to Evanston to face Northwestern next Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats are coming off a road loss at Wisconsin and have won each of the past two meetings with Penn State (2014, 2015). James Franklin is 0-3 against Pat Fitzgerald, including one loss while the head coach of Vanderbilt.
Indiana will get a chance to get back in the win column next week when they return home to host FCS Charleston Southern in Bloomington. After that, Indiana will host the Michigan Wolverines on Oct. 14.
Get ready to see another Penn State defensive lineman be picked up by an NFL team in the NFL Draft. Redshirt junior Garrett Sickels has announced he will be entering the NFL Draft this year, thus passing on the final year of eligibility he had with the Nittany Lions.
The All-Big Ten selection is coming off a season with a career high in tackles (47) and sacks (6) and proved to be a dominant force up front off the end of Penn State’s defensive line this season.
“This journey has been an amazing ride from my commitment to Penn State in 2012 to this past Rose Bowl game,” Sickels said in a statement released on Twitter. “I have made friendships and bonds that will last a lifetime. I’m so unbelievably proud to call myself a Penn Stater. I take great pride in knowing me and my fellow classmates of the 2013 recruiting class have left Penn State in a much greater place then when we arrived.”
Sickels was one of the key recruits in Penn State’s Class of 2013 that remained committed to the program immediately after the program was slammed with NCAA sanctions at the time. That same class brought quarterback Christian Hackenberg, wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton, linebacker Brandon Bell and tight end Adam Breneman (who just finished off a stellar season at UMass), among others.
The loss of Sickels means Penn State will replace both starters at defensive end in the fall, although the Nittany Lions have some young options that have been waiting to get in the mix, including four-star addition in the Class of 2016 Shane Simmons, who redshirted this past season.
Penn State wide receiver Geno Lewis will be catching footballs with some other college football team in the fall. Lewis announced his intention to transfer out of Penn State with a statement released on his Twitter account Monday morning. Lewis announced he will transfer to Oklahoma.
“After a long discussion with my family and coaches, I have decided that it would be in my best interest to transfer from Penn State University to pursue my graduate studies and play football with my last year of eligibility,” Lewis said in his statement. “This was not an easy decision but I feel like it is time to move on to the next chapter of my life.”
Because Lewis will be a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play immediately with any other FBS program in the fall. Lewis was Penn State’s fourth-leading wide receiver in 2015 with 196 yards and three touchdowns. This was just one season after being the team’s second-leading receiver with 751 yards and two touchdowns. As a freshman in 2013, Lewis hauled in 18 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns as well. Lewis saw his production take a back step as young receivers like Chris Godwin, DaeSean Hamilton and Saeed Blacknall emerged for the Nittany Lions. Godwin, a sophomore, was a 1,000-yard receiver this season and Hamilton, also a sophomore, led the team with six touchdown catches. All three leading receivers from 2015 are expected to return for Penn State in 2016.
Lewis was the top-rated recruit in Penn State’s Class of 2012, the first under Bill O’Brien just weeks after being introduced as head coach. Penn State’s Class of 2012 was derailed by the Jerry Sandusky scandal fallout that led to the firing of Joe Paterno. Before Christian Hackenberg and Adam Breneman had a chance to be the leaders and glue of O’Brien’s first full recruiting class, Lewis was seen as the jewel of Penn State’s torched Class of 2012. Lewis was the only four-star recruit in Penn State’s Class of 2012.
UPDATE (12:45 pm): Lewis announced he will be moving to Oklahoma. This is the second time in a few years Penn State lost a transferring wide receiver to Oklahoma. Justin Brown transferred from Penn State to Oklahoma when the NCAA gave a free transfer exemption to Penn State players in 2012 with the sanctions dropped on the program.