Game Ball & Helmet Stickers: Northwestern
Everyone came into this contest expecting the ‘Saquon Barkley Show,’ but for the most part, King ‘Quon stayed bottled up as Northwestern made a conscious effort to take the running game away. At times, seven to eight defenders were locked in on Barkley on any given play. It worked as he ended the first half with -7 rushing yards, but Northwestern forgot one thing in their game-plan and paid a hefty price for the negligence: The Wizard. With all the focus on Barkley, Trace McSorley picked their defense apart with precision. At one point he completed 15 passes in a row that broke a record set by Kerry Collins back in 1994. He finished the game with 245 yards passing with one touchdown and one touchdown on the ground. Six games in, there’s been a lot of baseless internet chatter swirling around McSorley's play, so it's only fitting he ushers us into a week of rest by collecting this week’s Game Ball and putting the doubters on notice.
As for this week’s Helmet Stickers, Touchdown Tommy Stevens leads the way as the back-up QB continues to wreak havoc on opposing defenses by catching the game’s first touchdown and lining up beside The Dynamic Duo in the backfield. Barkley may have had an ‘off day' by his standards, but still managed to rip off a 58-yard score and gain another with a one-yard leap in the third quarter that effectively closed the door on the Wildcats. On defense, Shaka Toney announced his arrival by racking up two sacks and forcing a fumble. Fellow redshirt freshman Shane Simmons had a tackle for loss on a crucial fourth down to go along with a career-high four tackles on the day and Kevin Givens blocked two passes. Amani Oruwaryie and Christian Campbell each got an interception and senior Curtis Cothren finally made his presence felt in a monstrous way.
And with that, we can all take a deep breath and rest for a week. Penn State has outscored opponents 238-54 through its first six games and has only been tested once, which was on that road trip to Iowa. After Northwestern, James Franklin made a point to mention there are parts of the offense that we have yet to see. A subtle warning to those laying in wait down the road and maybe a little eye-roll towards those of us that don’t think we've scored enough. Up next, a WhiteOut is brewing in the forecast, a shot at redemption over an embarrassing loss a year ago, and a three-game gauntlet as tough as they come. Rest well Nittany Nation, the fireworks are just around the bend.