Nittany Lions run wild in 28-3 triumph over Rutgers
STATE COLLEGE — Saquon Barkley could've been playing for Rutgers. Instead, the Penn State freshman spent Saturday night making the Scarlet Knights miserable.
Barkley, a freshman and former Rutgers recruit, ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns and Penn State beat Rutgers 28-3 in the Big Ten Conference opener for both teams.
Akeel Lynch added 120 yards rushing on 10 carries with a touchdown, and DeAndre Thompkins also ran for a score for Penn State (2-1, 1-0).
"I think Saquon Barkley has brought something to our offense. I think him and Akeel are a nice one-two punch right now," Penn State coach James Franklin said.
It was Barkley who sparked the Nittany Lions for the second straight week. He scored on a 15-yard run up the middle in the second quarter and added a 16-yard touchdown run in the fourth to cap Penn State's scoring.
Barkley averaged just over nine yards on 21 carries.
After a scoreless first quarter, Thompkins scored on a sweep from two-yards out, capping an 80-yard drive early in the second quarter. Barkley scored his touchdown, and Lynch added another on a 75-yard run to give the Nittany Lions a 21-0 halftime lead.
Kyle Federico kicked a 34-yard field goal for Rutgers in the fourth quarter. Chris Laviano was 27 for 42 with 251 yards passing with two interceptions for the Scarlet Knights (1-2, 0-1).
Thompkins' scoring run capped an 80-yard drive in the second quarter. Barkley took advantage of perfect inside blocking and finished off a 90-yard drive with his first touchdown two possessions later.
"We've had two weeks in a row where we haven't given up a sack. We're able to run the ball," Franklin said.
When Barkley wasn't bursting through holes, Lynch was. The junior ran untouched into the end zone late in the first half.
Lynch said he'd never seen a hole that big and acknowledged he might not see another one. But Penn State's offensive linemen — often beleaguered after allowing 44 sacks last season and 10 in the season opener to Temple — would say otherwise.
Playing without starting left tackle Andrew Nelson, Penn State's front five kept pass rushers off of Christian Hackenberg for the second straight week, and helped Penn State gain 330 yards rushing.
"I think the past two weeks, their performance, they've done a great job," Hackenberg said. He was 10 of 19 for 141 yards passing, and threw a late interception.
Rutgers struggled to move the ball all night in the rain that picked up as the game wore on. The Scarlet Knights managed just 115 yards to Penn State's 311 in the first half, and added 179 more the rest of the way.
Penn State cornerback Grant Haley intercepted Laviano's final pass of the first half, and freshman John Reid picked off Laviano off early in the third quarter after Rutgers had crossed midfield.
The Nittany Lions sacked Laviano seven times with two from Austin Johnson.
"We were consistent," Johnson said. "That's all we need to be consistent and we'll be really good and it's going to be really hard to beat us."
Rutgers receiver Janarion Grant was held to four catches for 22 yards and was kept in check on returns. After returning a punt and two kickoffs for scores in the first two weeks, Grant lost a yard on his lone punt return and managed just eight yards on his only kickoff return.