Two weeks ago, Penn State was second in the polls.
Two road losses later, by a total of four points, the Nittany Lions will need a lot to happen to have even a slim chance to get into the college football playoffs. Or maybe even just to make it back to the Big Ten championship game, which they won last December.
One week after blowing a 15-point second-half lead at Ohio State, the Nits (7-2, 4-2) lost at Michigan State (7-2, 5-1) on a 34-yard last-play field goal by Matt Coghlin, 27-24.
Coghlin had missed two kicks in a three-overtime loss to Northwestern the previous week.
Penn State was ahead,14-7, when play was halted because of bad weather. The delay lasted 3-1/2 hours
The Nits led by three entering the fourth quarter. A 32-yard FG tied things with just under 11 minutes left. The winning drive took 10 plays and covered 53 yards in 4:05.
Saquon Barkley didn’t score a touchdown for the first time in 16 games. He rushed for 63 yards on 14 carries, with 36 coming on one run. He might not be the Heisman Trophy favorite anymore. But there’s still time.
Trace McSorley threw for 381 yards and three TDs. He also was picked off three times. He did become the career program leader, with 50 TD passes. That’s two more than Christian Hackenberg, his predecessor.
The Nits were second in the nation in turnover ratio, at plus-14. They were minus-2 in the game. The Spartans, who’ve had fumbling issues, have already won four more than they did a year ago. In 2015, they won the Big Ten title and made the four-team tournament field.
Ohio State (7-2, 5-1) also lost on Saturday, 55-24, at Iowa. PSU has the much easier schedule remaining. Next, the Lions host Rutgers (4-5, 3-3), which has won three of its last four. They get Nebraska (4-5, 3-3) at home on Nov. 18 and finish at Maryland (4-5, 2-4) the following week. Ohio State hosts MSU this week and closes with Michigan (7-2, 4-2). So maybe the East Division can end in a four-way tie. Or three-way, as it did last season, since Michigan goes to unbeaten Wisconsin on the 18th
Richmond 22, Villanova 0
The Wildcats (4-5, 2-4 Colonial Athletic Association) lost their third straight, and second in a row at home. The other was at James Madison, the No. 1 team in FCS. They’ve scored 22 in that stretch.
They were still 20th last week, but should fall out of the rankings for the first time since late October 2015.
Richmond (5-4, 3-3) had dropped two straight. Seven of its games were against Top 25 opponents. The Spiders shut out Villanova last year at home, 23-0. That was the first time Villanova didn’t score since 2004.
True freshman Kyle McCloskey got his second start for the Wildcats. He fumbled at the Richmond 2 on the Wildcats’ second possession. He went 6 for 17 for 90 yards, with 60 coming on one completion on their fifth snap. In large part because of injuries, he doesn’t have nearly enough around him. He’s the third quarterback the Wildcats have used.
Richmond had the worst-rated defense in the CAA.
The Wildcats have not scored more than 14 in any of the nine losses over their last 22 games.
Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta (Downingtown East) became the 10th player at his level to pass for 3,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.
It was 8-0 at halftime, which included a late safety when a snap went over the punter’s head and out of the end zone. The Spiders had 271 more yards. They rushed for 175.
Villanova’s Drew Kresge missed a 47-yard field goal when it was a six-point game in the second period. The first two times the Spiders had the ball in the third quarter, they drove 81 yards and then 80.
This week, the Wildcats visit Rhode Island (2-7, 1-5). After that, they close at home with Delaware (6-3, 4-2). They’ve had only one losing season since 2005 (2-9 in 2011).
Penn 38, Princeton 35
The Quakers (4-4, 2-3 Ivy League) got a 15-yard TD pass from Will Fischer-Colbrie to Justin Watson with 1:12 left at Franklin Field to cap an 80-yard drive, and Tavish Rice missed a 31-yard field goal at the end for Princeton. But only after a near-completion in the end zone.
These teams shared the title last year.
Princeton (5-3, 2-3) lost its second straight. The losses have been by a combined eight points. Penn’s Ivy losses are by a total of 11, two on the last play.
There is a scenario in which seven teams could tie at 4-3. This week, Penn is at Harvard (5-3, 3-2). Harvard beat Dartmouth and Columbia (both 6-2, 3-2) the last two weeks. Penn will be trying to beat Harvard for a third straight time, which last happened from 1998-2000.
Penn led, 24-7, early in the third quarter. Princeton went in front for the first time since 7-0 on a short run with 4-1/2 minutes remaining.
Chad Kanoff threw for 351 yards for the Tigers, who host first-place Yale (7-1, 4-1) next. The Quakers rushed for 317. Justin Watson, who became the program’s all-time receptions leader, had eight for 124 yards and two scores.
Owls still in the mix
On Thursday night, Temple (4-5, 2-3) took a large step toward becoming bowl-eligible with a 34-26 win over visiting Navy (5-3, 3-3).
Mike Kern’s Top 10
1. Alabama (9-0). Beat LSU, 24-10. Saturday: at Mississippi State. So you were expecting maybe Georgia here? Has beaten MSU nine straight.
2. Georgia (9-0). Beat South Carolina, 24-10. Saturday: at Auburn. Has beaten Auburn three straight, and nine of last 11.
3. Notre Dame (8-1). Beat Wake Forest, 48-37. Saturday: at Miami. Has beaten Miami three straight. This used to be one of the games every year.
4. Clemson (8-1). Beat North Carolina State, 38-31. Saturday: vs. Florida State. Won last year at FSU by three. Hasn’t beaten ‘Noles three straight since 2005-07.
5. Oklahoma (8-1). Beat Oklahoma State, 62-52. Saturday: vs. TCU. Beat Frogs, 52-46, last year and 30-29 in 2015.
6. Miami (8-0). Beat Virginia Tech, 28-10. Saturday: vs. Notre Dame. Wonder how the T-shirt sales are going. Safe travels, Harvey. Get some stone crabs.
7. Wisconsin (9-0). Beat Indiana, 45-17. Saturday: vs. Iowa. Has beaten Hawkeyes four of the last five. Loss was two years ago at home (10-6).
8. TCU (8-1). Beat Texas, 24-7. Saturday: at Oklahoma. Have split last four meetings, which were decided by 14 points.
9. Washington (8-1). Beat Oregon, 38-3. Friday: at Stanford. Has lost nine of last 12 to Cardinal. Won last year by 44-6 on the road.
10. Auburn (7-2). Beat Texas A&M, 42-27. Saturday: vs. Georgia. Yo, somebody had to be 10.
Next in line: Oklahoma State (7-2), Southern Cal (8-2) and Ohio State/Penn State/Michigan State (all 7-2).
Ohio State – It’s OK to lose at Iowa. Heck, Penn State nearly did. But no way by 55-24.
Big 12 – Once in a while, you have to play some defense. Oklahoma-Oklahoma State was 38-all at the half, 62-52 at the end. Sorry. That’s not football.
Kansas – It’s OK to lose to winless Baylor, even at home. But 38-9 says it all. Good for Matt Rhule.
UCLA – Can’t be losing 48-17 at Utah. Not good for Jim Mora.
Me – For losing my best bet (Central Florida giving 14 to SMU) in a week in which I somehow went 12-3. I will be asked to give a urine sample soon.