Penn State’s Barkley and Smith Named Big Ten Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State sophomore running back Saquon Barkley and junior linebacker Brandon Smith were selected as the Big Ten Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week, respectively, after outstanding performances in the win over Maryland.

(Photo of Brandon Smith (No. 47) making a tackle against Minnesota two weeks ago. Photo by Paul Burdick. Check out more of Burdick’s work here)

This is the second-straight week a Nittany Lion has won defensive accolades with junior safety Marcus Allen claiming Oct. 3 Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week. Barkley is the first Nittany Lion to win Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week since Bill Belton claimed the honor after his 201-yard performance against Illinois in 2013. The last time the Nittany Lions had both the Big Ten Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week was in 2009 when Daryll Clark and NaVorro Bowman won the awards following the Michigan State game.

Barkley paced a Nittany Lion rushing attack that ran for 372 yards against the Terps as he clicked off a career-high 202 yards on a personal-best 31 carries. The effort was his first 200-yard rushing game and seventh career 100-yard effort. Barkley became the 15th different Nittany Lion to eclipse the 200-yard mark.

The Coplay, Pennsylvania native’s 202 yards are tied for 23rd all-time on Penn State’s single game rushing list (John Cappelletti vs. Maryland, 1972). Barkley’s 202 yards are the most by a Penn State player since Larry Johnson had 279 yards against Michigan State in 2002. Barkley had six runs of 10-plus yards versus the Terps to give him 16 such efforts on the season and 50 for his career. Barkley moved into 22nd on the career rushing charts with his performance, jumping six spots in the game. He ended the afternoon with 1,658 career yards on the ground.

Smith, a walk-on turned starting Mike linebacker, had a game- and career-high 14 tackles versus the Terps. He surpasses his previous high of eight against Temple from two games ago. Smith also came up with his first career interception, picking off Maryland QB Perry Hills at the Penn State 45 with 2:06 to play in the first quarter.

With the Penn State linebacking unit decimated by injury with the three opening day linebackers and two others out for Saturday’s game due to injury, Smith has stepped into a leadership role and has become the quarterback of the defense. Penn State allowed just 100 passing yards against the Terps, which were the fewest in a Big Ten game since giving up 68 yards at Indiana in 2014.


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