Penn State’s McCovern, Barkley Honored After Strong Performances vs. Iowa

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – A pair of Penn State players were honored after the Nittany Lions 41-14 win over Iowa Saturday.

(Photo of Connor McGovern by Paul Burdick. Check out more of Burdick’s work here)

Freshman guard Connor McGovern was honored by the Big Ten as the Freshman of the Week, while Saquon Barkley was selected as the Rose Bowl Game Big Ten Player of the Week.

McGovern is the first offensive lineman in Penn State history to win a Big Ten weekly award. Additionally, he is just the third offensive lineman to win conference weekly honors, joining Ohio State’s Korey Stringer (11/21/94) and Michigan State’s Sean Poole (11/13/04), who both won Offensive Player of the Week accolades. Stringer and Pooler were both tackles.

The native of Larksville, Pa., was an anchor on the offensive line that paved the way for 599 yards of total offense in the 41-14 win over Iowa. The Penn State offensive line allowed just one sack and the Nittany Lions did not have an offensive turnover for the last three games. In addition, the Nittany Lions did not have a single three-and-out against the Hawkeyes and Penn State was 7-of-14 on third down conversions. Penn State’s offense has scored on 14 of its last 18 drives. (11 TDs and 3 FGs).

Penn State’s 599 yards of total offense are the most for the Lions since recording 661 yards at Rutgers in 1995. The 599 yards are also the highest total offense output by Penn State vs. a Big Ten team since 653 yards against Michigan State in 1994. The Nittany Lions’ 599 yards of total offense are the third-most by a Penn State team in a Big Ten game. The Nittany Lions had more than 500 yards of total offense in back-to-back games for the first time since surpassing 500 yards against Illinois and Eastern Illinois in 2009. Penn State has three games this season with more than 500 yards of total offense, which is the highest total since 2012.

McGovern’s blocking help free up Barkley for a 57-yard rushing score and a 44-yard receiving touchdown. Barkley, who had an 81-yard rushing touchdown at Purdue Oct. 29, became the first player to have rushes of at least 57 yards in consecutive games was in 2002 when Larry Johnson had rushes of 78 yards against Michigan State and 69 yards at Indiana. Both of those rushes were for touchdowns. In addition, the last time that Penn State had offensive plays of at least 57 yards in consecutive games was the 2014 season opener vs. UCF (79-yard pass from Christian Hackenberg to Geno Lewis) and 2013 season finale vs. Wisconsin (68-yard pass from Christian Hackenberg to Adam Breneman and a Zach Zwinak 61-yard rush).

Barkley accumulated 211 all-purpose yards thanks to 167 rushing yards, 44 receiving yards in the 41-14 win over Iowa Saturday. The sophomore running back also scored twice in the game, once on the ground and once in the air. He averaged 8.4 yards per carry and took his only reception 44 yards for a score.

The Nittany Lions have had at least one Big Ten weekly honoree each of their last five games, marking the first time in program history that Penn State has accomplished the feat, while Barkley is the third Nittany Lion to collect Rose Bowl Game weekly honors, joining Marcus Allen (10/3) and Grant Haley (10/24).

Penn State is 7-2 overall and 5-1 in Big Ten play after the victory over Iowa Saturday night. The Nittany Lions are back in action when they travel to Bloomington to face Indiana Saturday at noon on ABC with an ESPN2 mirror. The game will also air on the Penn State Sports Network and (10:30 a.m. airtime).

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