Penn State Hosts Michigan St. With Big Ten East Title on the Line

saquon-barkley-by-paul-burdick
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (PSU Athletics)- Penn State hosts Michigan State in its regular season finale Saturday in Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions will honor 17 seniors prior to the 3:30 p.m. kick on ESPN.

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

This senior class has posted a 30-19 record over the past four years, helping Penn State extend its streak of winning seasons to 12 and earn top-10 rankings for the first time since 2009.

Penn State will look to extend a seven-game winning streak, its longest in the Big Ten since going 8-0 in league play in 1994 and longest overall since 2011. The Nittany Lions are also off to a 6-0 start in home games this season and have 12 wins in the last 13 home games.

Quarterback Trace McSorley, running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Mike Gesicki will be among the Nittany Lions looking to continue to lead one of the most prolific offenses in Penn State history. The unit has been averaging 39.7 points per game during its winning streak. McSorley is on track to break Penn State’s record for total offense in a season, while Barkley continues to lead the Big Ten in rushing yards, all-purpose yards and total touchdowns. Gesicki set a program record for receptions in a season by a tight end, hauling in five at Rutgers to bring his season total to 42.

The Penn State defense will also look to build off the momentum of a 39-point shutout at Rutgers. Penn State’s 87 yards allowed and five downs allowed against the Scarlet Knights are the fewest given up in a Big Ten game in program history.

Penn State will be facing the defending Big Ten champions. Michigan State entered the season ranked 12th in the AP poll and moved up to as high as eighth, but struggled in October. However, the Spartans last five games include a 49-0 win over Rutgers and narrow losses, including a one-point loss to Ohio State last Saturday. Running back LJ Scott is averaging nearly 120 yards per game during that stretch, and set career highs against the Buckeyes.

HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO

  • Mark Dantonio owns a 90-41 record in his 10th season at the helm of Michigan State.
  • This is Dantonio’s 13th season as a collegiate head coach, posting a career mark of 108-58. He was the head coach at Cincinnati from 2004-06, before accepting the same position with the Spartans.
  • Dantonio is a two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year (2011, 2013).
  • Dantonio also coached at Michigan State from 1995-2000, serving as the defensive coordinator all six years, and adding the title of associate head coach for the 2000 season.
  • As a player, Dantonio was a three-year letterman as a defensive back at South Carolina (1976-78).

SCOUTING THE SPARTANS

  • Michigan State is 3-8 overall and 1-7 in Big Ten play on the season.
  • The Spartans have won two out of the last three Big Ten Championships, including last season’s.
  • Michigan State was ranked 12th by the AP entering the season and moved as high as eighth in late September, but has lost eight of its last nine.
  • In their last five games, the Spartans have played in multiple close games and have a 49-0 win over Rutgers.
  • Most recently, Michigan State fell to No. 2 Ohio State, 17-16. The Spartans elected to try a two-point conversion after scoring a touchdown with less than five minutes remaining, but the attempt for the go-ahead points failed.
  • Running back LJ Scott is heating up. After rushing for 336 yards and two touchdowns on 73 carries in the first six games of the season, he has rushed for 599 yards and four touchdowns on 95 carries in his last five games.
  • Against Ohio State, Scott collected career highs in rushing yards (160), all-purpose yards (236) and receiving yards (76).
  • The Spartan defense held the Buckeyes to season lows in points (17), yards of total offense (330) and passing yards (86).

WINNER CLAIMS LAND GRANT TROPHY

  • When the Penn State-Michigan State series was renewed with the Nittany Lions’ entrance into the Big Ten in 1993, the Land Grant Trophy was established to go to the winner in what was each school’s annual season finale from 1993-2010.
  • The Land Grant Trophy honors Penn State’s and Michigan State’s unique places in history as the two pioneer land-grant institutions in the United States.
  • Each school was founded in 1855, Michigan State on Feb. 12 and Penn State on Feb. 22. The schools were the prototypes after which the land-grant system was patterned.
  • Each institution brought to American education the new dimensions of service and outreach in addition to education and research.
  • The Land Grant Trophy joins the Governor’s Victory Bell, presented to the Penn State-Minnesota victor, as the other trophy the Nittany Lions play for in Big Ten competition.
  • The game will be the third consecutive season finale between the two schools. The annual meeting will be played earlier in the season through at least 2019.

SENIORS TO BE HONORED

    There are 17 Nittany Lion seniors that will take the field in Beaver Stadium for the final time Saturday.

  • The 2016 seniors have been instrumental in the Nittany Lions earning a 30-19 record the past four years under unprecedented circumstances, with four winning seasons and a third bowl appearance upcoming during their careers. The group also helped lead Penn State to its first top-10 ranking since 2009.
  • The 17 players will be introduced in a pre-game ceremony and include: Brandon Bell, Gordon Bentley, Tom Devenney, Derek Dowrey, Brian Gaia, Evan Galimberti, Gregg Garrity, Malik Golden, Zach Ladonis, Wendy Laurent, Paris Palmer, Irvine Paye, Evan Schwan, Jordan Smith, Von Walker, Nyeem Wartman-White and Tyler Yazujian.
  • The Nittany Lions have earned victories in 20 of their 26 Senior Day games since 1990.

 

AT THE TOSS

  • The Big Ten Conference has developed a commemorative flipping coin to honor the memories of Michigan State graduate Mike Sadler and Nebraska student Sam Foltz.
  • The coin was used by all Big Ten schools during the opening week of Big Ten play (Oct. 1), the coin will be used on-field at the start of Saturday’s game.
  • Sadler played his final Big Ten game for Michigan State as a senior in 2014 at Penn State.
  • Both punters, Sadler and Foltz were tragically killed in a car accident in July.

PENN STATE-MICHIGAN STATE CONNECTIONS

  • Penn State redshirt freshman QB Billy Fessler, and Michigan State sophomore QB Damion Terry and junior running back Delton Williams all attended Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep.
  • Penn State cornerbacks coach Terry Smith coached Michigan State junior S Montae Nicholson for two seasons at Gateway (Pa.) High School.

WINNING WAYS

  • Penn State’s win over Iowa guaranteed it its 12th consecutive winning season.
  • Only six other FBS teams have posted winning records each of the last 12 years (Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Boise State, Oklahoma, USC and Florida State). LSU can also clinch 12 consecutive winning seasons this year.
  • At 9-2, Penn State owns its best 11-game record since posting the same mark in 2011.
  • It marks the 10th time in the Big Ten era that Penn State has reached at least nine regular season wins: 1993 (9-2), 1994 (11-0), 1996 (10-2), 1997 (9-2), 1999 (9-3), 2002 (9-3), 2005 (10-1), 2008 (11-1), 2011 (9-3), 2016 (9-2).
  • The Nittany Lions have won seven consecutive Big Ten games for the first time since 1994 when Penn State went 8-0 in league play.
  • The seven-game winning streak is longest overall winning streak since clicking off seven consecutive victories in 2011.
  • The Nittany Lions are 7-1 in Big Ten play for the first time since 2008 and the fourth time since joining in 1993 (1994, 2005, 2008).
  • Penn State has improved its regular season win total each season under head coach James
    Franklin. The Nittany Lions went 6-6 in 2014, 7-5 in 2015 and is now 9-2 with one game remaining in 2016.

WINNING AGAINST A TOUGH SLATE

  • The Nittany Lions’ 11 opponents have a combined record of 59-42, which ranks 17th in FBS.
  • Of the nine teams Penn State has defeated, they have a combined 50 FBS wins, which ranks among FBS leaders. (Source Phil Steele)

DAVIS NAMED B1G CO-SPECIAL TEAMS POTW

  • Junior kicker Tyler Davis continued his impressive season by earning Big Ten Co-Special Teams Player of the Week honors after going 4-for-4 on field goals and 3-for-3 on extra points against Rutgers. Davis shares the accolade with Iowa’s Riley McCarron.
  • Despite windy conditions, Davis connected on all four of his field goal attempts (32, 34, 40, 32), setting a career-high, to lead the Nittany Lions past Rutgers.
  • With a trio of extra points, he scored a career-high 15 points against the Scarlet Knights.
  • Davis also tied his season long with a 40-yard field goal in the second quarter.
  • Penn State has had a Big Ten Player of the Week following six of its last seven games.

QUINTET OF LBS OUT FOR THE SEASON

  • Five Nittany Lion linebackers are out for the season due to injury.
  • Senior LB Von Walker was injured at Rutgers. He will not play for just the third time in his career and the first time since the Indiana game in 2014, ending a streak of 28 consecutive games played.
  • Senior LB Nyeem Wartman-White was injured during the Temple game. He also missed nearly the entire 2015 season with an injury suffered in the opener against the Owls.
  • Redshirt freshman Jan Johnson was injured at Michigan in his first collegiate football action.
  • Sophomore Jake Cooper and junior transfer Jason Vranic are also both out for the season.

INJURY BUG HITS OFFENSIVE TACKLES

  • Penn State has lost three OTs for the season, and Brendan Mahon has missed the last three games.
  • Junior starter Andrew Nelson suffered a season-ending injury against Maryland.
  • Senior Paris Palmer, who was starting in place of Nelson, suffered a season-ending injury at Indiana.
  • Sophomore Chance Sorrell announced the end to his playing days due to recurring injuries.
  • Redshirt freshman Ryan Bates has moved from guard to left tackle and sophomore Chasz Wright is now starting at right tackle.

HIGH SCORING

  • During its seven-game winning streak, the Nittany Lions have scored 278 points, an average of 39.7 points per game.
  • Prior to scoring 39 points at Rutgers (Penn State had a botched snap on an extra point try), Penn State had posted 40 points or more in three consecutive outings (Purdue, Iowa, Indiana) for the first time since 2008 (Oregon State, Temple, Syracuse).
  • It was the first time in program history, the Nittany Lions had scored 40 or more points in three-straight Big Ten Conference games.
  • Penn State has scored 30 or more points in eight games this year, the most in a season since the 2009 squad did it eight times.
  • The Nittany Lions have scored in 17 consecutive quarters.
  • The Nittany Lions have scored 187 points in their last four games, marking the highest four-game total since 2008 (211 – 66 vs. Coastal Carolina, 45 vs. Oregon State, 55 at Syracuse, 45 vs. Temple).
  • The Nittany Lions have scored 187 points in their last three Big Ten games, marking the highest four-game total since 1994 (190 — 61 vs. Iowa, 31 at Michigan, 63 vs. Ohio State, 35 vs. Indiana).
  • The 24 points scored in the fourth quarter at Indiana and the third quarter at Purdue are the most by a Penn State team since scoring 28 in the second quarter against UMass in 2014.
  • Penn State’s 62 points scored at Purdue are the most for the Nittany Lions in a Big Ten game since scoring 63 against Illinois 2005. It is the third-highest point total in a Big Ten game in program history.
  • The 62 points scored against the Boilers are the most by a Penn State team in any game since topping Coastal Carolina, 66-10, in the season opener in 2008.
  • Penn State’s 62 points set a record for an opponent at Purdue’s Ross-Ade Stadium, surpassing the 56 Ohio State scored in 2013. It also tied the most points any Purdue team has allowed anywhere, matching Wisconsin’s output from 2011.
  • The Nittany Lions’ 45 points scored in the second half are the most by a Penn State team in a half since scoring 56 in the first frame against Illinois in 2005.
  • Penn State had 28 points off of turnovers against Purdue. Entering the day, the Nittany Lions had 20 points off of turnovers for the season. It was the most points scored off turnovers for Penn State since scoring 34 points off of five Temple turnovers in 2014.
  • The 39 points scored by Penn State against Pitt were the most in a loss in program history. The previous mark was 35 against Iowa in a 2002 overtime game.

COACH OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE

  • Penn State head coach James Franklin is one of 16 semifinalists for the George Munger Coach of the Year Award, which is presented yearly by the Maxwell Football Club.
  • Franklin has guided Penn State to nine wins, the most for the Nittany Lions since 2011, and a top-10 ranking.
  • Penn State head coaches have won the Munger Coach of the Year award on four occasions. Joe Paterno won the honor three times in 1990, 1994 and 2005, while Bill O’Brien claimed the award in his first season at the helm in 2012.
  • Semifinalist voting for of the Maxwell Football Club Collegiate Coach of the Year award will began on Friday, Nov. 18 and closes on Sunday, Dec. 11. The finalist round will include the top three coaches as selected in the semi-finalist round. Finalist voting will open Dec. 12 and run until Dec. 27. The winner will be announced on Dec. 29.
  • The formal presentation of the George Munger Collegiate Coach of the Year Award will take place at the Maxwell Football Club’s National Awards Gala on Friday, March 10, 2017 at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
  • Eligible voters include Maxwell Football Club members, NCAA Head Football Coaches, Sports Information Directors and selected national media.
  • Dabo Swinney from Clemson University was the 2015 winner of the award.

B1G DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE

  • Penn State shutout Rutgers 39-0 for its first shutout since a 39-0 home victory over Illinois last season. The last time Penn State shutout an opponent in back-to-back seasons was 2009 and 2010.
  • The 39-point shutout win is Penn State’s largest road shutout victory since joining the Big Ten in 1993.
  • It was the largest road shutout since blanking Navy, 39-0, in 1973.
  • It was Penn State’s seventh Big Ten shutout (against 6 different teams) and the first time doing so in consecutive seasons: 1993, 31-0 at Iowa; 1998, 27-0 vs. Illinois; 2002, 49-0 vs. Northwestern; 2006, 12-0 at Purdue; 2009, 20-0 vs. Minnesota; 2015, 39-0 vs. Illinois; 2016,
    39-0 at Rutgers
  • The Nittany Lions allowed just 87 yards of offense to the Scarlet Knights, the fewest given up in a Big Ten game by a Penn State team.
  • The 87 yards allowed are the fewest in a game overall since giving up 74 yards versus Temple in 2006.
  • Penn State gave up just five first downs to Rutgers, the fewest surrendered in a Big Ten game in program history.
  • The five first downs allowed are the fewest in any game since giving up two first downs versus Temple in 2006.
  • Penn State posted its first first-half shutout of the season at Rutgers.

SECOND HALF SUCCESS

  • Five of Penn State’s nine wins this season were one possession games at halftime with the Nittany Lions trailing on two occasions.
  • Most recently at Rutgers, Penn State held a 9-0 lead at halftime, but then added 30 points in the second half for a 39-0 victory.
  • The Nittany Lion offense ranks tied for third in FBS in second half scoring (21.73) and fourth in fourth quarter scoring (12.91).
  • Penn State is fourth in FBS in second half scoring differential (+12.45) and second in fourth quarter scoring differential (+7.91).
  • Courtesy of SportSource Analytics
  • Penn State has scored 142 points (12.9 per game) in the fourth quarter compared to 61 points (5.5 per game) in the first quarter. PSU is averaging 8.0 and 8.8 points in the second and third quarters, respectively.
  • Over the last five games, Penn State has outscored opponents, 140-40, after the halftime break.
  • The PSU defense allowed multiple scores in the third quarter for the first time all season at Indiana (TD, FG).
  • Just 105 of the 261 points allowed by Penn State have been after halftime.
  • Penn State has shut out three teams in the second half: Kent State, Maryland and Rutgers (entire game).

OFFENSE COVERING GROUND

  • Penn State has had four games with 500 or more yards of total offense, the most in a season since the 2009 team had four games with 500+ yards. Penn State totaled 549 yards at Rutgers in its last outing.
  • The Nittany Lions have eight games with 400 or more yards of total offense, the most since the 2008 team had 10 games with 400+ yards.
  • PSU did not have a single three-and-out against Iowa, a feat not accomplished since 2015 against Purdue.
  • Penn State had 599 yards of total offense against Iowa, the most since recording 661 yards at Rutgers in 1995. The 599 is 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’s 359 yards rushing were the most since rushing for 372 earlier this season against Maryland and the most allowed by the Hawkeyes since 2000.
  • Penn State had 511 yards of total offense at Purdue.
  • At the time, Penn State’s 524 yards of total offense against Maryland were the most since posting 574 against Eastern Michigan in 2013 and the most in a Big Ten game since having 546 yards against Indiana in 2012. It was the first game with 500 or more yards since the 2014 season opener vs. UCF (511).

McSORLEY IN THE RECORD BOOKS

  • Quarterback Trace McSorley completed 17-of-33 passing attempts for 210 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 55 yards at Rutgers moving him up multiple Penn State statistical charts.
  • McSorley recorded his eighth 200-yard passing game of the season, which is tied for fourth in a season in Penn State annals with Daryll Clark (2009). He ranks tied for 11th with Michael Robinson (2002-05) on the career 200-yard passing list.
  • McSorley is seventh in the Penn State season passing charts with 2,600 yards, moving up five positions after Rutgers.
  • McSorley ranks 13th place on Penn State’s season pass completions list with 167. He is 12th in season pass attempts with 304.
  • McSorley has 2,959 yards of total offense this season (2,600 P, 359 R), jumping him up three positions to fourth on Penn State single season list and just 259 yards shy of the record held by Matt McGloin (3,215).
  • The 332 passing yards against Indiana are tied for 14th on Penn State single game list, tying the mark he posted earlier this season against Pitt. McSorley also holds the 13th position on the chart with his 335-yard effort against Minnesota this season.
  • McSorley posted his third 300-yard passing game of the season at Indiana, which ranks fourth on both the career and single-season lists in program history.
  • McSorley had one of the most productive games by a Nittany Lion ever against Minnesota. He accounted for 408 yards of total offense — 335 passing and 74 rushing — to mark the third-highest total in school history. It was the most yards of total offense since Christian Hackenberg posted a school-record 454 yards against UCF in the 2014 Croke Park Classic vs. UCF. McSorley also had his longest career completion, an 80-yard touchdown to Irvin
    Charles.
  • McSorley is the 12th quarterback in Penn State history to register a 300-yard passing game, and just the fifth to record to have multiple 300-yard pass games, joining Christian Hackenberg, Matt McGloin, Kerry Collins and Daryll Clark.

GESICKI SETS TIGHT END RECORD

  • With five receptions at Rutgers, Mike Gesicki broke the TE school season receptions record, bringing his total to 42 catches on the season. The previous mark was set by Andrew Quarless (41) in 2009.
  • Gesicki added 47 yards to his season total at Rutgers, raising it to 546 yards. That figure is 54 markers short of the season record for receiving yards by a tight end of 600 yards set by Mickey Shular in 1977.
  • Gesicki tied his single-game career mark with five receptions against Rutgers. He has had five receptions on three other occasions, all this season.
  • Gesicki earned a spot on the Mackey Award Midseason watch list. He was previously nominated for the preseason watch list. The Mackey Award is given annually to the most outstanding collegiate tight end.
  • His reception total (42) ranks first in the Big Ten and tied for fifth in FBS amongst TEs, while his receiving yard total (546) leads the Big Ten and ranks sixth in FBS.
  • Gesicki leads all tight ends with four catches of 40 or more yards. He caught a 52-yard reception against Temple, a 53-yard reception against Minnesota, a 44-yard reception against Iowa and a 45-yarder at Indiana.
  • Gesicki has a career-high two touchdowns this season.
  • Gesicki’s receptions, receiving yard and receiving touchdown figures rank second amongst all receivers for Penn State.
  • His four catches for 46 yards against Ohio State were team highs in that game.
  • Gesicki has had at least 23 receiving yards in each game this season.
  • Against Indiana, Gesicki set a career high of 88 yards receiving. He also matched his career high of five receptions.
  • Gesicki’s five-reception, 70-yard performance against Minnesota included a career-long 53-yard catch.
  • Gesicki caught his second touchdown pass of the season and third of his career on Penn State’s opening drive against Maryland.
  • All three of his career touchdowns have been scored in Beaver Stadium.

HEATING UP

  • Saquon Barkley has had more success in his last six games than in his first five games this season.
  • In the last six, he has totaled 825 rushing yards on 130 carries with seven touchdowns. That’s an average of 137.5 yards per game and 6.35 yards per carry. He totaled 380 yards on 86 carries in the first five games of the season with seven rushing touchdowns.
  • In three quarters of action at Rutgers, Barkley totaled 92 rushing yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
  • Prior to the Indiana game, Barkley had one of the most productive four-game stretches in Penn State history.
  • He totaled 675 rushing yards on 81 carries with four touchdowns. That’s an average of 168.8 yards per game and 8.3 yards per carry.
  • The only other running backs to have a more successful four-game stretch in PSU history are: Larry Johnson (2002) – 109 carries, 1,073 yards, 10 touchdowns in 2002 (279, 188, 327, 279); John Cappelletti (1973) – 150 carries, 787 yards, 8 touchdowns (202, 220, 204, 161); Curt Warner (1981) – 98 carries, 716 yards, 5 touchdowns (238, 117, 105, 256).

YARDAGE LEADER

  • Barkley continues to lead the Big Ten with 1,205 rushing yards and an average of 109.5 per game. The figures rank 17th and 18th in FBS, respectively.
  • Barkley also leads the Big Ten with 139.8 all-purpose yards per game, which ranks 16th in FBS.

POINTS ON THE BOARD

  • With one rushing touchdown at Rutgers, Barkley now has 14, which are the most by a Penn State player since Larry Johnson had 20 in 2002. The figure ranks second in the Big Ten and 12th in the country.
  • Barkley has 16 overall touchdowns this season (16 rushing, 2 reception), which are the most for a Penn State player since Johnson had 23 in 2002. That figure leads the Big Ten and ranks 10th in FBS.
  • Averaging more than a touchdown per game, Barkley ranks 28th in FBS and fourth in the Big Ten with 8.7 points scored per game. Only kicker Tyler
    Davis is averaging more on the Nittany Lions (9.5).
  • Barkley has scored at least one touchdown in all but two games this season: Michigan and Ohio State.

GETTING CHUNKS

  • At Rutgers, Barkley had his streak of 14 consecutive games with at least one run of 20+ yards snapped. It was the second-longest streak in college football in the last 20 years (LaMichael James – 19), according to the Big Ten Network.
  • Barkley ranks in the top three in FBS in both rushing plays and scrimmage plays of 20 yards or more.
  • The last time Barkley was in Beaver Stadium, he made his longest touchdown run in the facility, a 57-yarder, and he also caught his longest reception, a 44-yarder that went for a touchdown, vs. Iowa.
  • Barkley’s 44-yard reception was the longest by a Penn State running back since Evan Royster had a 49-yard catch in 2009 vs. Syracuse.

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