Trace McSorley

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Stanford running back getting serious Love from Bovada in Heisman race

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Penn State running back Saquon Barkley was held in check for much of the afternoon on Saturday by Northwestern, but that wasn’t enough to change Barkley’s Heisman odds this week. The latest Heisman Trophy odds form Bovada held firm with the 5/4 odds placed on Barkley last week, which keeps him atop the Heisman board for now.

The most notable development in the Heisman odds this week may be the rise of Stanford running back Bryce Love. Love rocketed up the board this week by going from 14/1 odds last week to 4/1 odds this week. The only two players ahead of Love right now are Barkley and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. After a home loss to Iowa State, Mayfield’s Heisman odds moved from 9/4 to 13/4.

Love leads the nation with 206.67 yards per game and is the only running back in the nation to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark so far. Love leads the nation with 1,240 rushing yards, which is roughly 240 yards than the next leading running back, San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny. For reference, Barkley’s rushing total stands at 649 yards, although Barkley’s all-purpose yardage adds up to 1,302 yards, which is ahead of Love’s all-purpose yardage so far.

Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, saw his odds dip from 10/1 to 16/1 after a road loss at NC State on Thursday night.

Northwestern can’t keep lid on Saquon Barkley as No. 4 Penn State scores 31-7 road win

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Northwestern managed to tie down Penn State running back Saquon Barkley for the majority of the afternoon, but sooner or later he was bound to break loose for a big play. And break loose he did, Barkley ripped off a 53-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to flip the script in the box score for his Heisman Trophy campaign, but it was a full team effort that contributed to No. 4 Penn State (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) picking up a decisive 31-7 victory on the road against Northwestern (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten) in Big Ten play.

Barkley ended his afternoon with 75 rushing yards and two touchdowns, with the 53-yard score being the highlight of the day for him. At one point in the game, Barkley had more rushing touchdowns (1) than he had rushing yards (0). It was that kind of day against Northwestern, who excelled in not letting Barkley get too many opportunities to do damage. But that meant other players would have chances to step up for Penn State. Saeed Blacknall caught four passes for 74 yards. Backup quarterback Tommy Stevens caught two passes, including a touchdown. Juwan Johnson had a team-high six catches for 43 yards as Penn State spread the ball around in the passing game. Trace McSorley was 25-of-34 for 245 yards and a touchdown without a turnover.

Northwestern’s only score of the day came late in the fourth quarter after missing on some opportunities to make a game of it earlier in the game. Northwestern held the football on Penn State’s side of the field three times in the first half but saw each possession end with a turnover.

Penn State’s defense came close to pitching a third shutout of the season, but it continues to be a strength of the Nittany Lions. Northwestern managed just 265 yards of offense in the game.

Penn State heads into a bye week before what should be the make-or-break stretch of the season as far as Penn State’s Big Ten and College Football Playoff hopes may be concerned. After getting off next week, Penn State will host Michigan the following week. After that is a road trip to Ohio State. If Penn State doesn’t have their offensive line playing better for those two games, they could be in trouble.

Northwestern will hit the road in Big Ten play next week to play Maryland. The Terrapins will be coming off a road game at Ohio State.

Saquon Barkley adds to Heisman reel as No. 4 Penn State drops Indiana 45-14

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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.

Saquon Barkley ascends to top of Bovada’s Heisman Trophy board

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Coming off a monster performance against Iowa, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is now the new leader in the clubhouse for the Heisman Trophy, according to Bovada at least.

Bovada’s weekly updated Heisman odds put Barkley atop the Heisman board with 7/4 odds. He moves ahead of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, USC quarterback Sam Darnold, and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville, and separates himself from Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph.

Barkley has rushed for 518 yards with four rushing touchdowns in the first four weeks of the season. That alone would not be worthy of such high Heisman praise, of course, but Barkley has shown how good he is by contributing to the Penn State passing game. Barkley currently leads the Big Ten with 23 receptions and a conference-leading 335 receiving yards. Barkley has also added some yards on special teams returns, although he has not broken loose for a significant kickoff return just yet.

Barkley is not the only running back moving up Bovada’s board, however. Stanford running back Bryce Love went from 66/1 up to 33/1 following a big performance against UCLA. LOve is currently the nation’s leading rusher.

Two players were dropped from the Bovada board this week. Ohio State freshman running back J.K. Dobbins went from having 25/1 odds last week to off the board this week. I’m not entirely sure why Dobbins fell off the map so quickly, but he’ll have a chance to pop back on the board in the coming weeks. LSU running back Derrius Guice also fell off the board this week after having 50/1 odds last week.

Saquon Barkley scores 2 TDs as No. 4 Penn State pulls away vs. Pitt

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Big plays helped guide No. 4 Penn State (2-0) past a determined Pittsburgh (1-1) in Happy Valley. Despite Pitt’s workmanlike clock management giving the Nittany Lions offense little time on the field, the Panthers could only tie down Saquon Barkley and the Nittany Lions so much before they made some plays in a 33-14 victory Saturday afternoon.

Barkley finished his day with 88 rushing yards and a touchdown with 45 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown. Barkley also got involved on kick return duty at times, with two kick returns for another 50 yards. Pitt managed to keep Barkley largely ineffective in the first half, but Penn State kept plugging away to get him involved, including back-to-back runs for first downs to start the second half. Trace McSorley found Barkley over the middle for a 46-yard touchdown to push Penn State to a 21-3 lead early in the third quarter.

Penn State’s defense had to grind out some plays and were put to the test against the Panthers’ offensive attack to work the clock. For the most part, Penn State answered the call with a pair of interceptions off Pitt quarterback Max Browne and allowing just three points off two separate 15-play drives. Browne was later taken out of the game after having to be examined for a cut on his forehead after his helmet popped off. Ben Dinucci took over and finished off Pitt’s only touchdown drive on the first play from scrimmage since entering the game.

McSorley did not have a particularly sharp afternoon, completing 15-of-28 for 164 yards, but he did score three touchdowns. The lone interception was a deep pass as time expired at the end of the first half, so it was not a costly turnover. McSorley did contribute to the running game with 65 yards. Tight end Mike Gesicki scored each of Penn State’s two first-half touchdowns, scoring both in the first quarter with one coming on Penn State’s first offensive snap from the eight-yard line following an interception return by Grant Haley.

Pitt will look to give their clock management another tough test next week when they return home to the western side of the state to face Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have scored 59 and 44 points in their first two games, including Friday night’s 44-7 victory at South Alabama. Oklahoma State edged Pitt in Stillwater a year ago in this home-and-home series, 45-38.

Penn State will play a third-straight home game next week before stepping foot into Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions will host Georgia State for the first meeting between the two schools. Penn State and Georgia State have previously worked together at satellite camps in Georgia.