Kern: Penn State scores big victory

Penn St Purdue Football
Penn State's Saquon Barkley scores on an 81-yard run against Purdue during second half on Saturday.

PENN STATE (6-2, 4-1 Big Ten) has now won four straight since a 49-10 loss to unbeaten Michigan on Sept. 24. Saturday was its first road game since then. The Nittany Lions rolled at Purdue (3-5, 1-4), which fired its coach two weeks ago, 62-24, to move up four places to No. 20 in the Associated Press poll.

At halftime it was tied at 17. Ten minutes later the Nits were up 17. And they scored the last 28.

It was their first true road win since 2014 at Indiana (13-7). They'd lost their last six. But it was their eighth straight win over the Boilermakers.

It's the most points scored by a visitor in the 92-year history of Ross-Ade Stadium. The record had been Ohio State's 56-zip win there three years ago.

The most they'd scored before this was 39, in a three-point loss at Pitt on Sept. 10.

Saquon Barkley rushed for 207 yards and two touchdowns, including a career-best 81-yarder, the longest TD run by a Lion since Larry Johnson's 84-yarder against Illinois in 2002. Trace McSorley passed for three scores.

Purdue rushed for 46 yards on 26 carries. Good thing one of them gained 23.

Now the Nits host Iowa (5-3, 3-2). The Hawkeyes will be coming off a bye. After that, Penn State goes to Indiana (4-4, 2-3), which just broke a three-game losing streak by beating Maryland (5-3, 2-3) at home. Then they're at Rutgers (2-6, 0-5) before finishing up in Happy Valley against Michigan State (2-6, 0-5).

If somebody beats Michigan, which of course is at Ohio State Nov. 26, the Nits can tie for first in the East. The tiebreakers just don't work in their favor. Still, how many would have signed on for 10-2 or even 9-3 as recently as a month ago? Figured as much.

Temple 34, Cincinnati 13

The Owls (6-3, 4-1 American Athletic Conference) might have cleared their toughest remaining obstacle. The East Division is theirs for the taking. They weren't the preseason favorite last season either. Maybe there's even a scenario in which they can end up hosting the final this time.

This is what they have left: Friday night at Connecticut (3-6, 1-5), followed by at Tulane (3-5, 0-4) and East Carolina (3-5, 1-3) in South Philly. Doesn't mean they'll win out. Just means they'll be favored to.

The Bearcats (4-4, 1-4) never led at the Linc. It was 17-13 at the half. Temple added a short field goal late in the third quarter, then two short TD runs by Ryquell Armstead early in the fourth.

The Owls had nearly 300 more yards. While Jahad Thomas didn't score multiple TDs in a seventh straight game, he rushed for 151 yards on 17 carries.

Three weeks ago this team was 3-3 and losing by five with 32 seconds and 70 yards to go at Central Florida. Everything has changed. Yes, the Owls will be going to a bowl in back-to-back seasons for the first time. Yet at this point that's almost become an afterthought. As is the fact this is the fifth time they've won six-plus in three consecutive seasons, and second since 1973-75 (they also did it in 2009-11).

Armstead and Thomas are the only FBS teammates to each have seven-plus rushing TDs. Linebacker Avery Wiliams became the first Owl to lead the team in tackles twice this year (he also did so in the opener). Avery Ellis blocked a punt for a second straight game. Since the start of 2013 the Owls have 18 blocked kicks, most in the nation.

Penn 21, Brown 14

The Quakers (5-2, 4-0 Ivy League) had beaten their previous three Ivy opponents 114-41. This time, at Franklin Field, they had to hold on a fourth down at their 32-yard line with 10 1/2 minutes left and get end-zone interception from Sam Philippi with 1:28 to go.

Justin Watson had 11 catches for a career-high 210 yards, including a 67-yard TD to open the scoring midway through the first period. It's the most yards for a Penn receiver since 1981.

It was 21-0 at the half. The Bears (2-4, 1-3) made it a one-possession game near the end of the third quarter.

The school welcomed back the 1986 unbeaten team that went 10-0 for first-year coach Ed Zubrow.

This was Penn's third straight first-half shutout. Sophomore Jack Soslow, kicking in place of Jimmy Gammill, missed a 28-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Penn has converted one of five.

Brown tied with Penn and Harvard for the title last season. The Quakers have won 10 straight in the Ivies.

Now they go to Princeton (5-2, 3-1), which won at Cornell (3-4, 1-3) 56-7. Penn beat the Tigers here a year ago in overtime, after blocking a field goal at the end of regulation. After that they'll host Harvard (6-1, 4-0), which won at Dartmouth (3-4, 0-4) by two. Two weeks ago Harvard won at Princeton by three in OT.

Michael Jack's Top 10

1. Alabama (8-0). Idle. Next: Saturday at LSU. Tide's last true road game. Has beaten LSU five straight. Last year was 30-16 at home.

2. Clemson (8-0). Beat Florida State, 37-34. Saturday: vs. Syracuse. Has won five games by seven points or less. Beat Syracuse by 10 each of last two years.

3. Michigan (8-0). Beat Michigan State, 32-23. Saturday: vs. Maryland. Lost at Maryland two years ago. Beat Terps 28-0 in Ann Arbor last season.

4. Washington (8-0). Beat Utah, 31-24. Saturday: at Cal. Lost at home to Cal last year by six. Beat Bears in 2014 in Berkeley, 31-7.

5. Louisville (7-1). Beat Virginia, 32-25. Saturday: at Boston College. Won last three meetings. Last year it was by 17-14 at home.

6. Texas A&M (7-1). Beat New Mexico State, 52-10. Saturday: at Mississippi State. Lost at MSU two years ago, 48-31. Won last season at home, 30-17. Can Aggies get into playoffs if they finish 11-1 with blemish at Alabama?

7. Ohio State (7-1). Beat Northwestern, 24-20. Saturday: vs. Nebraska. First meeting since 2012. Buckeyes won that one at home, 63-38.

8. Florida (6-1). Beat Georgia, 24-10. Saturday: at Arkansas. Gators lead series, 9-1. Loss was in first meeting, in 1982 Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl (28-24). Last meeting was in 2013, 30-10 win at home.

9. Wisconsin (6-2). Beat Nebraska, 23-17 (overtime). Saturday: at Northwestern. Lost to Northwestern last year at home, 13-7. Also lost at NW in 2014, 20-14.

10. Nebraska (7-1). Lost at Wisconsin, 23-17 (OT). Saturday: at Ohio State. Will try not to be looking ahead to Minnesota. At least Cornhuskers don't have to also play Michigan in a cross-division game, as Wisky did, which is why they can still control destiny in the West by coming up with an upset in Columbus.

Next in line: Auburn (6-2), Baylor (6-1), Oklahoma (6-2), LSU (5-2) and West Virginia (6-1).

Michael Jack's Fraud Five

Boise State - Can't be losing at Wyoming when you're trying to get to a New Year's bowl. But Western Michigan certainly thanks you. Western Michigan?

Baylor - Shouldn't be losing at Texas when you're trying to make a case for being in the playoffs.

West Virginia - Ditto, only substitute Oklahoma State for Longhorns. Big 12 can't catch a break. Or maybe it's just not all that. Ask TCU.

Tennessee - That's three straight losses, if you're counting. At Texas A&M in overtime and Alabama were one thing, if you can overlook the fact that 'Bama won by 39 in Knoxville. But South Carolina? I thought Vols were supposed to be better than that.

Mississippi - Not so much that the Rebels lost at home to surging Auburn by 11, even though they led after three quarters. It's just that a team that was ranked 11th in the preseason is 3-5 and in last place in the rugged SEC West, which still seems a bit hard to digest.

And let it be duly noted that Notre Dame rallied in the final six minutes to beat Miami at home by three. Good thing. Harv needed a reason to smile again. Next up is Navy, which will be coming off a loss at South Florida, in Jacksonville.


kernm@phillynews.com

@mikekerndn