Trace McSorley

Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Baker Mayfield headlines Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award finalists

Leave a comment

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield may be solidly on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy, but he may also have a decent chance of taking home some other hardware this award season as well. Mayfield was named one of the five finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award today.

The Golden Arm Award is given to the nation’s top quarterback in his senior or fourth year of college football (freshmen and sophomores are not eligible), and this year’s crop of finalists is an impressive one. In addition to Mayfield, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett, Penn State’s Trace McSorley, and NC State’s Ryan Finley were named finalists for the award.

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson won the award a year ago. It could be a coincidence, but the award has gone to a quarterback playing in the College Football Playoff each of the past three seasons. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota won the award in 2014 and Michigan State’s Connor Cook won the award in 2015. Mayfield appears to be in a position to keep that trend going if he is the favorite to win this year’s Golden Arm Award.

The last Oklahoma player to win the award, and the only one thus far, was Jason White in 2004. No player from Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Penn State or NC State has won the award, which was first presented in 1987 to Don McPherson of Syracuse.

Over five hours later, Penn State and Michigan State finally reach halftime

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Over five hours later, we have reached halftime in East Lansing between Penn State and Michigan State, with the Nittany Lions and Spartans tied 14-14 at the second break of the game. A nearly three-and-a-half hour weather delay in the middle of the second quarter posed an extra challenge to both teams.

With 7:58 to play in the second quarter, the game had to be sent into a weather delay as lightning strikes moving through the area caused a threat to the safety of the teams and fans in Spartan Stadium. The weather delay was announced as officials were reviewing an incomplete pass from Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke to Trishton Jackson on the sideline. The incomplete pass was upheld. It would be a while until they played third down.

Penn State was looking to get off to a nice quick start to move on from last week’s loss at Ohio State, but an interception thrown by Trace McSorley after missing a couple of throws earlier on the drive brought the game’s opening drive to an end. Unfortunately for the Spartans, Michigan State could not take advantage of the possession despite a promising looking drive that included a 3rd and 11 and 3rd and 19 pass completions to keep the ball moving. But on 4th and 2, Mark Dantonio opted to punt from the Penn State 43-yard line.

Penn State got the offense in gear on their second possession with McSorley dialing in and Saquon Barkley getting a chance to throw out of a direct snap for a 20-yard gain to tight end Mike Gesicki. McSorley then completed back-to-back passes to DeAndre Thompkins and then DaeSean Hamilton for a 31-yard score and a 7-0 lead. Michigan State answered after getting the ball near midfield on the ensuing kickoff, thanks in part to a good return and a late hit penalty on Penn State. Four plays later, Lewerke tied it up with a pass to Darrell Stewart Jr. Not to be outdone, Penn State had their own answer with Mcsorley completing a fourth-down pass to Saeed Blacknall, who then took advantage of horrendous tackling efforts by multiple Michigan State players on his way to the endzone for a go-ahead score.

Michigan State tied the game at 14-14 with a Lewerke touchdown pass to Felton Davis III from 33 yards.

Lightning causes weather delay of Michigan State-Penn State

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Big Ten contest in East Lansing, Michigan between Michigan State and Penn State is getting an earlier break than expected. Midway through the second quarter, the game was forced to be interrupted with inclement weather bringing lightning to the area. The teams left the field for their respective locker rooms midway through the second quarter with Penn State leading the Spartans, 14-7.

The announcement of the weather delay came just before an official video review on a Michigan State incompletion could be ruled on. The pass was ruled incomplete as the Spartans appeared to be on the move.

At the weather break, Trace McSorley has passed for 193 yards and two touchdowns with one interception for Penn State, while Brian Lewerke has been effective through the air for the Spartans with 159 yards and a score. The running backs have not been able to get too much going, with LJ Scott leading the way with 18 rushing yards on five carries. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley is once again not impressing in the rushing department with just one yard on three carries, however, Barkley completed a 20-yard pass to tight end Mike Gesicki and has caught a couple of passes for 13 yards.

Penn State’s streak of not allowing a touchdown to be scored in the first quarter was snapped this week, a week after seeing its first quarter shutout streak come to an end against Ohio State.

J.T. Barrett rallies No. 6 Ohio State past No. 2 Penn State, 39-38

Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
34 Comments

Whew!

After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter after a blazing fast start by No. 2 Penn State (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten), No. 6 Ohio State (7-1, 5-0 Big Ten) pulled together a 19-3 fourth quarter against one of the best second-half teams in the nation to capture a monster 39-38 win in the Big Ten race, and the College Football Playoff race. J.T. Barrett was incredible with 33-of-39 for 328 yards and four touchdowns and 95 rushing yards.

After Penn State had a 10-play drive to tack on what seemed to be a pivotal field goal to take a 38-27 lead, Ohio State and Barrett would not be stopped. The Buckeyes scored two touchdowns on their next two possessions while the defense put the clamps down on the Nittany Lions. Penn State had two straight possessions with negative yardage with the game still on the line, and Ohio State made them pay for it.

For Penn State, it was reminiscent of the Rose Bowl against USC, where a game that looked to have a favorable ending coming together came crashing down without a killer instinct to make a key play or two on either side of the football to close the book. It was a tough loss to take for Penn State, but how damaging it ultimately ends up being will now be left in the hands of the College Football Playoff selection committee starting next week.

Saquon Barkley returned the game’s opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown and he had a 36-yard touchdown run in the first half as Penn State was making the big plays while Ohio State was dominating the offensive yardage in the box score. Ohio State bottled up Barkley for the majority of the game outside of those two plays as he ended the day with 44 rushing yards and 23 receiving yards (and 105 kickoff return yards). Barkley should still be heading to New York, but he will very likely have some company from the Big Ten joining him as Barrett should be in the conversation now as well.

Ohio State out-gained Penn State 529-283 and racked up 27 first downs to Penn State’s 17. That helped wear Penn State down and to overcome two turnovers and 10 penalties for Ohio State. Ohio State also had two interceptions of Trace McSorley in the end zone overturned by replay review. Both overturned picks were led by Penn State touchdowns, including one that occurred on the same play. It was a game that Penn State shouldn’t have won and the fates tried hard to prevent Ohio State from winning. But college football is goofy sometimes, and then things like Penn State squandering an 11-point lead in the final five minutes happens.

Ohio State now owns the inside track to the Big Ten championship game with a head-to-head win against Penn State. Ohio State would have to lose twice if Penn State wins their remaining games in order for the Nittany Lions to get a chance to return to the Big Ten championship game. And with the playoff rankings about to be unveiled, Ohio State should feel confident they will be ranked in the top four from the selection committee.

Ohio State will have to keep the momentum going next week with a road game at Iowa. Penn State will look to rebound next week on the road against Michigan State. The Spartans dropped an overtime game at Northwestern and will also be looking for a rebound win. There is still a lot of football to be played, but Ohio State is rolling right now.

Two Saquon Barkley TDs help Penn State hold halftime lead at Ohio State

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
1 Comment

For the second straight week, Penn State took a 14-0 lead just minutes into the game, but this time they did it on the road to silence the Ohio State crowd a bit out of the gates. Penn State also capitalized on a controversial call by the Big Ten officials and holds a 28-17 lead on the Buckeyes at halftime of a colossal Big Ten showdown.

Saquon Barkley returned the game’s opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown to get Penn State off to a great start with a 7-0 lead just 15 seconds into the game.

After the defense forced a fumble by Parris Campbell, the Nittany Lions took an early 14-0 lead on a Trace McSorley pass to DaeSean Hamilton inside the red zone on third down. After Ohio State got on the board with a field goal, Penn State went back to work a couple of possessions later and extended their lead to 21-3 on a 36-yard touchdown run by Barkley, getting a key downfield block by McSorley. An official review checked to make sure Barkley did not step out of bounds and upheld the initial call for the touchdown.

Down 18 points at home, Ohio State was already getting desperate for a touchdown, and they finally got it with a J.T. Barrett touchdown pass to Terry McLaurin to cut into the Penn State lead. The pass was Barrett’s 91st career touchdown pass, breaking the Big Ten record previously set by Drew Brees of Purdue.

Penn State did get a lucky break following a terrific kick return following the Ohio State touchdown. McSorley was picked off in the end zone but a pass interference call on Ohio State negated the interception, and McSorley ran in for a score on the next play to push the lead to 28-10. The call that will be scrutinized can be seen here…

Ohio State gets the ball to start the second half. It’s still anyone’s game with first place in the Big Ten East on the line.