Penn State rolls; much bigger obstacles looming

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Penn State safety Nick Scott picks up the fumble to run it in for a touchdown during the first quarter against Indiana on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, at Beaver Stadium in Universtiy Park, Pa. The host Nittany Lions won, 45-14.

Fourth-ranked Penn State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) will soon be in the season-defining window of its schedule: Michigan at home on Oct. 21 (coming off a bye) followed by at Ohio State seven days later. The Nittany Lions have revenge going for them in the first part of that, not so much in the second.

First they have to go to Northwestern (2-2, 0-1), which just lost at unbeaten Wisconsin, 33-24. They have lost their last two against the Wildcats, in 2014 and ‘15.

On Saturday afternoon, a week after winning at Iowa on the last play, they toyed with visiting Indiana (2-2, 0-2), 45-14.

They have now won 20 of the 21 meetings. It was 28-0 after 15 minutes. The lead was 14 at the half and 24 after three quarters.

Saquon Barkley rushed for only 56 yards on 20 carries, but he returned the opening kickoff 98 yards. He caught four passes for 51 yards and threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to DaeSean Hamilton, who became the program’s all-time receptions leader. The 180th of his career, early in the fourth period, took him past Deon Butler (2004-08). He finished with nine catches for 122 yards and three scores.

When Butler broke the school record (by passing Bobby Engram) it also happened against Indiana.

Trace McSorley threw for 315 yards but was sacked five times. Nick Scott ran a fumble back 13 yards for a TD to make it 21-0.

The Lions wore white cleats and throwback jerseys that blended design elements from past teams’ uniforms.

Houston 20, Temple 13

The Owls (2-3, 0-2 AAC) dropped their second straight.

The Cougars (3-1, 1-0), coming off a 3-point home loss to Texas Tech (3-1, 0-1 Big 12), went up 20-0 with 111/2 minutes left in the third quarter.

The Owls got to within seven with 8:47 remaining on Aaron Boumerhi’s second field goal. They got the ball back three minutes later, at their 8. They would lose possession on downs near midfield. They would get one more chance with 30 seconds showing, from the 9. They got to the 34 at 0:04 before a long pass was intercepted.

Logan Marchi went 20-for-41 for 182 yards with a TD (on a 4th-and-goal from the 1) and three picks.

Houston’s Kyle Postma, in his second start and first since last September, was 25-for-36 for 226 yards and a TD. He also ran for 81 on 15 tries.

Now the Owls head to East Carolina (1-4, 1-1). After that they get Connecticut (1-3, 0-2) here.

Villanova 24, Towson 9

One week after three key starters went down in what became an overtime loss at Albany – one for the season and the others for what are being called extended periods – the Wildcats (3-2, 1-1, ranked 14th in FCS) lost quarterback Zach Bednarczyk early with yet another knee injury.

Redshirt freshman Jack Schetelich threw for a TD on the game’s opening possession and ran for two more in the fourth quarter, both of which were set up by fumble recoveries deep in Tiger territory.

He ended up 5-for-15 for 59 yards with three interceptions. He rushed for 40 on nine attempts.

Drew Kresge put them ahead for keeps with a 46-yard field goal with 5:43 to go in the third.

Towson (2-3, 0-2) rushed for 44 yards on 32 tries, the seventh straight game the defense has kept an opponent under 100.

Bednarczyk’s status is yet to be determined, but early indications are that his injury might not be season-ending.

This week the Wildcats host Maine (1-2, 0-2). It’s their second home game. Then they go to No. 1 and defending national champion James Madison.

In case you missed it, on Friday night Penn (2-1, 0-1) lost its Ivy League opener at Franklin Field to Dartmouth (3-0, 1-0), 16-13, on a 1-yard run on the final snap. Ouch.

Mike Kern’s Top 10

1. Alabama (5-0). Beat Mississippi, 66-3. Saturday: at Texas A&M. That’s 125-3 the last two weeks, if you’re counting. Has beaten A&M four straight since Johnny Manziel was doing his thing.

2. Clemson (5-0). Beat Virginia Tech, 31-17. Saturday: vs. Wake Forest. Hasn’t lost to Wake since 2008. Hardest part of Tigers’ sked is mostly behind them.

3. Oklahoma (4-0). Idle. Saturday: vs. Iowa State. Will try not to be looking ahead to Texas. Has lost once to ISU since 1961. That was 27 years ago.

4. Penn State (5-0). Beat Indiana, 45-14. Saturday: at Northwestern. Will try not to be looking ahead to Michigan.

5. Washington (5-0). Idle. Saturday: vs. Cal. Have won 7 of last 8 meetings. Loss was two years ago in Seattle.

6. Georgia (5-0). Beat Tennessee, 41-0. Saturday: at Vanderbilt. Lost to Vandy last year at home, 17-16.

7. Michigan (4-0). Idle. Saturday: vs. Michigan State. Have lost 7 of last 9 meetings. Won last year at MSU, 32-23.

8. Wisconsin (5-0). Beat Northwestern, 33-24. Saturday: at Nebraska. Has beaten Huskers four straight, and 6 of last 7. Last year it went to overtime.

9. Ohio State (4-1). Beat Rutgers, 56-0. Saturday: vs. Maryland. Beat Terps last year 62-3 on road.

10. Washington State (5-0). Beat USC, 30-27. Saturday: at Oregon. Have won last two meetings, after losing eight straight and 10 of 11 before that.

Next in line: USC, TCU, Auburn, Miami and Oklahoma State.

Fraud Five

LSU – Can’t be losing to Troy. No other way to put it.

Tennessee – Can’t be losing 41-0 at home to Georgia.

Mississippi State – Shouldn’t be losing 49-10 at Auburn week after losing 31-3 at Georgia. That 37-7 win over LSU ain’t looking like much now.

Duke – It’s OK to lose to Miami, even at home. But maybe not 31-6, on a Friday night, when you’re unbeaten and only a slight underdog coming off a win at North Carolina. Of course UNC is 1-4 and just lost by 26 at Georgia Tech.

Mississippi – I know the Rebs were big underdogs. But 66-3 seems excessive even when it’s at Bama.

Dishonorable Mention: Memphis — It’s OK to lose at Central Florida, in a matchup of unbeatens. But 40-13? So how did the Tigers beat UCLA?