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Barkley has big night as Penn State tops Iowa

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Saquon Barkley accounted for 211 all-purpose yards, scored two touchdowns and No. 12 Penn State beat Iowa 41-14 on Saturday night.

STATE COLLEGE, PA -- Penn State didn't just dominate Iowa in its 41-14 victory in Beaver Stadium, Penn State dominated Iowa in the fashion of its backup quarterback Tommy Stevens scoring a jet sweep from the slot, rumbling into the end zone for a 13-yard score in the fourth quarter.

The Stevens sweep came after the Nittany Lions had already pulled the majority of their offensive starters and the coaches decided to open up the playbook a bit with the Lions already holding a 27-point lead.

But for how impressive and shocking Stevens’ touchdown was, it wasn't nearly important as how Penn State got to that huge lead in the first place.

Just days after receiving a somewhat shocking No. 12 spot in this season's first edition of the College Football Playoff rankings, James Franklin's squad backed up the support from the playoff committee with another dominant victory.

Remember the days when Franklin’s Lions were just a second-half team? Some might remember those days being as recent as a month ago. But things are different now in Happy Valley; and that difference has almost entirely come on the offensive end.

Quarterback Trace McSorley’s growth has been phenomenal to watch all season and Saturday night’s installment was another stellar chapter. Just as he has all year, McSorley used both his legs and his arms to pick the Hawkeyes defense apart. Against Iowa, it was first with his legs, picking up a crucial first down on the Lions opening drive that directly led to a 19-yard touchdown strike to Saeed Blacknall in the back of the endzone. McSorley would finish with 240 yards passing and two throwing touchdowns while also garnering 40 yards rushing to go along with his fifth rushing touchdown. It was his fifth-straight game without an interception.

In his backfield, Saquon Barkley provided his usual dominance to the tune of 167 yards rushing and his 11th rushing touchdown of the season. He also helped out McSorley in the passing game with sound pass protection and later a 44-yard touchdown reception on a wheel route. The catch was the longest of his career while his fourth 100-plus yard game of the season put him over 1,000 yards for the second year in a row.

“That dude will surprise you with you anything,” McSorley said of his back. “There are some things he does, you give him the ball and I don't even know what he does. We call a play to the left and he ends up running to the right and I don't even know what he does. It’s fun to watch… but he’ll surprise you, theres something different he does every game.”

McSorley’s improvement has a runner has greatly eased Barkley’s work, as defenses have had to focus on two rushing threats.

"If you want to stop the run and you come at me, you give Trace an opportunity to beat you with his feet,” Barkley said. “And if you try to stop us both, you give him a chance to beat you on the outside in the passing game.”Penn State Trace McSorely

While Penn State’s 103 points combined in the past two games is undoubtedly impressive, its the team’s defensive play that should be leaving fans excited. For the fifth straight game, the unit has held the opposition to 26 or fewer points while Iowa’s 30 yards rushing were the fewest rushing yards the Lions had allowed all year. The Hawkeyes 234 total yards were the fewest Penn State had allowed since the 39-0 rout over Illinois last season.

The Nittany Lions defense received a lot of help from another loud and packed Beaver Stadium crowd, which was donned in an impromptu whiteout for the second time this year after a comment from Franklin last week.

“Unbelievable home environment, 106,000 fans going crazy was awesome,” Franklin said. “It had a significant impact and so we’re very, very thankful and very appreciative of the support we’re getting.”

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