To top off the big win, Beaver Stadium was filled with 102 thousand fans, making it the first time since 2009 that the Lions have opened their season with each game recording at least 100 thousand attendees.
Head Coach James Franklin noted that this season is already special in a variety of ways.
“So, can't thank the community and the alumni and the fans and the students for the type of support that we get,” said Franklin. “It's nothing like I've been a part of in my career, so I'm very, very appreciative, and I know our team and coaches are as well.”
The dominant win featured a variety of Lions making great plays, but as usual, Saquon Barkley (Coplay, Pa.) stood out from the crowd with help from quarterback Trace McSorley (Ashburn, Va.).
In the first quarter, McSorley launched an 85-yard pass to Barkley who ran it in for a touchdown. Not only was this a spectacular play to watch, but it was also record-breaking – the longest passing play ever at home for the Lions.
“It was kind of just a feel,” said Barkley of the pass.” I thought Trace did an unbelievable job of using his eyes and coming down to a check-down. It's just something that we work on every single day in practice and he just naturally came down to me.”
Barkley’s stunts in the first quarter lasted all game as he set a new career-high for receiving yards in a game with 142. His previous record was 77 from the Michigan game last year.
McSorley, Barkley, DaeSean Hamilton (Fredericksburg, Va.), Saeed Blacknall (Manalapan, N.J.), Tommy Stevens (Indianapolis, Ind.), and DeAndre Thompkins (Hubert, N.C.)all managed to find the end zone against Georgia State on Saturday, demonstrating the depth of the team this year.
McSorley, also a team captain, noted how well the offense is connecting this year, both in practice and in the games.
“We put together a really good week of preparation and it was probably our most complete week that we've had this entire year,” said McSorley. “It was really good to get everyone in the right mindset before we get into conference play…knowing the standard we can work to and just keep elevating it as we go on.”
Defensively, the team was clearly rock-solid.
Defense locked in three interceptions, the most since facing Maryland in 2015. Grant Haley (Atlanta, Ga.), Marcus Allen (Upper Marlboro, Md.) and Tariq Castro-Fields (Upper Marlboro, Md.) each logged an interception.
The defense also caused five turnovers that resulted in 35 points for the Lions.
Lots of different Lions got to see the field on Saturday and gain valuable experience.
“We put together a really good week of preparation and it was probably our most complete week that we've had this entire year,” said Franklin. “It was really good to get everyone in the right mindset before we get into conference play…knowing the standard we can work to and just keep elevating it as we go on.”
Next week the real show begins with the squad facing Iowa in the two teams’ first game of Big Ten conference play. It is also the Lions’ first time on the road this season, so be sure to tune in at 7:30 p.m. Eastern next Saturday to cheer your Lions on from afar!