Wisconsin at Penn State

Penn State makes playoff case with 38-31 win over Wisconsin

Associated Press
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) As Penn States band played and Lucas Oil Stadium rocked, thousands of fans clad in their traditional white shirts chanted We Are Penn State.

It might have been more fitting if had it been We are Penn State - and we are back.

Five years after a child sex abuse scandal tainted the reputation of the school and its football program along with the legacy of late coach Joe Paterno, quarterback Trace McSorley put the Nittany Lions squarely back in the national spotlight Saturday night with an epic 38-31 come-from-behind victory over No. 6 Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. It was the largest comeback in the six-year history of the game.

Before coach James Franklin left the field, he was already lobbying the playoff committee to put No. 8 Penn State in the final four.

What I do know is that we just won the toughest conference in college football, he said. Weve won nine straight. They say youre allowed to overcome minor setbacks. Weve done that. Its up to you, committee.

The Nittany Lions resume is impressive.

Since rebounding from a 39-point thumping against Michigan on Sept. 24, Penn State (11-2, No. 7 CFP) has won every game, handed No. 2 Ohio State its only loss of the season and on Saturday rallied from a 21-point first-half deficit to end the Badgers six-game winning streak. Penn State also finished as co-champs of the Big Ten East, a division many considered the toughest in the nation, and now has its first conference crown in eight years.

Many, including die-hard Penn State fans, wonder whether that will be enough to jump up three spots in the committees rankings. Some fans even held signs that read we smell roses.

While McSorley, who was named the games MVP after a record-breaking performance, has even higher hopes, hes content to let his coach lobby for a playoff spot.

Coach said what he needed to say, Im going to enjoy this moment with my teammates, McSorley said before leaving the stage on the field.

It was certainly a moment worth savoring.

McSorley finished 22 of 31 for 384 yards with four TD passes, breaking the title game records for yards and TD passes. He also broke the schools single-season records for yards passing and touchdown passes.

And McSorley wasnt the only one putting on a show. Saeed Blacknall caught six passes, two for touchdowns, and finished with a championship-game record 155 yards. DaeSean Hamilton caught eight passes for 118 yards, most in the second half when the Nittany Lions repeatedly burned the nations No. 3 defense with deep throws.

What was most impressive was how they won it.

Penn State trailed 28-7 with 5:15 left in the first half. Thats when McSorley and the Nittany Lions offense finally got in sync by scoring touchdowns on each of their next four possessions - the last an 18-yard TD pass to Saquon Barkley with 13:41 left in the game. The Nittany Lions never trailed again.

They made some plays down the field and we didnt make enough to make McSorley feel uncomfortable, Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said.

Wisconsin (10-3, No. 6 CFP) played without starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook but jumped to the big lead behind Corey Clement, who ran 21 times for 164 yards including a 67-yard TD run in the first quarter.

But the Badgers usually stout defense allowed a season-high point total.

Wisconsins final chance ended when Clement was stopped short of a first down on fourth-and-1 from the Penn State 24-yard line with 1:01 to go.

THE TAKEAWAY

Penn State: Consider the turnaround is complete. Five years after the Jerry Sandusky scandal tainted the program and the late Joe Paternos legacy, and the ensuing NCAA sanctions seemed to put the Nittany Lions on the fast track to nowhere, they are Big Ten champs and look like a real national championship contender.

Wisconsin: After winning their first two title game appearances, the Badgers have now lost their two - in shocking fashion. Coach Paul Chryst never could have expected this from a defense that hadnt allowed more than 30 points all season and had only allowed No. 2 Ohio State to gain more than 400 yards in a game this year.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Penn State: Coach James Franklin insisted all week that his team was focused more on winning a Big Ten title. Now, the lobbying can begin - if Franklin wants to. The argument goes like this: Co-champs of the toughest division in college football, championship game winners of the best conference in football and the only team to beat No. 2 Ohio State. Will it be enough?

Wisconsin: In the first half, the Badgers looked like they would be making their case to the committee. Instead, the Badgers have no idea what will happen next.

UP NEXT

Penn State: Will eagerly wait to see who is next on the schedule.

Wisconsin: Will wait to see who the Badgers will get in the postseason, one that could have been much more interesting had they protected their lead.

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.

 
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Scoreboard
Wisconsin #6  (10-3)14143031
Penn State #7  (11-2) «77141038
Players of the Game
Badgers

C. Clement
Rush 21
Yds 164
Avg 7.8
TD 1
Nittany Lions

T. McSorley
Att 31
Comp 22
Yds 384
TD 4
Scoring Summary
WISCAustin Ramesh 1 yd run (Andrew Endicott kick)
WISCCorey Clement 67 yd run (Andrew Endicott kick)
PSUMike Gesicki 33 yd pass from Trace McSorley (Tyler Davis kick)
WISCRyan Connelly 12 yd fumble return (Andrew Endicott kick)
WISCDare Ogunbowale 7 yd run (Andrew Endicott kick)
PSUSaeed Blacknall 40 yd pass from Trace McSorley (Tyler Davis kick)
PSUSaeed Blacknall 70 yd pass from Trace McSorley (Tyler Davis kick)
PSUSaquon Barkley 1 yd run (Tyler Davis kick)
WISCAndrew Endicott 23 yd FG
PSUSaquon Barkley 18 yd pass from Trace McSorley (Tyler Davis kick)
PSUTyler Davis 24 yd FG
 
Team Stats
 WISCPSU
First Downs2221
Third Down Efficiency5-123-10
Fourth Down Efficiency0-10-3
Plays-Net Yards70-41560-435
Rushes-Yds49-24129-51
Passing Yds174384
Kick Return Yds6283
Punt Return Yds05
Passes16-21-022-31-0
Punts4-1392-98
Fumbles-Lost2-02-2
Penalties-Yds4-403-25
Time of Poss.36:5723:3
 
Individual Stats
RUSHING
WISC: Corey Clement 21-164, Bradrick Shaw 15-62, Dare Ogunbowale 6-26, Jazz Peavy 1-5, Austin Ramesh 1-1, Quintez Cephus 1--3, Bart Houston 4--14
PSU: Saquon Barkley 19-83, Andre Robinson 3-7, Team 1--19, Trace McSorley 6--20
PASSING
WISC: Bart Houston 16-21-174-0
PSU: Trace McSorley 22-31-384-0
RECEIVING
WISC: Jazz Peavy 4-53, Dare Ogunbowale 4-28, Corey Clement 3-43, Troy Fumagalli 3-30, Eric Steffes 1-14, Kyle Penniston 1-6
PSU: DaeSean Hamilton 8-118, Saeed Blacknall 6-155, Mike Gesicki 3-58, Chris Godwin 3-33, Saquon Barkley 2-20
 
Standings
TeamStandingsConferenceOverall
Wisconsin1st Big Ten West7-211-3
Penn State1st Big Ten East8-111-3

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