Penn State won’t get the chance to defend its Big Ten title in Indianapolis on Dec. 2. Instead, the final will match Ohio State and Wisconsin. Yet with a win next week in the regular-season finale at Maryland (4-7, 2-6), the Nittany Lions (9-2, 6-2) could do something for the first time since 2008 and ’09 — reach double-digit victories in back-to-back seasons.
On Saturday, they beat visiting Nebraska (4-7, 3-5), 56-44. It was 42-10 at the half. The Cornhuskers scored three touchdowns in the closing 6-1/2 minutes, the last on the final play.
Saquon Barkley, in what might have been his last home game, looked like a Heisman Trophy finalist for the first time in a month. He carried 17 times for 158 yards and caught six passes for 66 more yards. His three rushing TDs – including a 65-yarder on PSU’s third play — gave him 39 for his career. That’s one more than the school record Lydell Mitchell held for 46 years.
The Nits have won 14 straight in Happy Valley. It’s the first time they’ve had consecutive unbeaten home seasons since 1985-86.
This was the highest-scoring game at Beaver Stadium.
They had 609 yards, their most since 1995, when they put up 661 against Rutgers.
Quarterback Trace McSorley had 371 yards of total offense and was responsible for four TDs (one running). It was the 26th straight game in which he’s thrown for a TD. It was also his ninth 300-yard game. That ties him with Christian Hackenberg, his predecessor, on the program’s all-time list.
If they could only have that fourth quarter at Ohio State to do over.
Villanova 28, Delaware 7
This is what they call a program win.
The host Wildcats (5-6, 3-5 Colonial Athletic) had lost four straight. They’d scored 28 points in those games. The Blue Hens (7-4, 5-3), who’d won five of their previous six, were trying to get into the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2010.
It was 14-0 after only 6-1/2 minutes, following a 38-yard interception return by Jeff Steeb. The lead was double that with 22 minutes left. Only an 11-yard pass with 59 seconds to go kept the Wildcats from getting a third home shutout in a season for the first time in 78 years.
The Wildcats, who lost 18 players to season-ending injuries, hadn’t scored a TD in their previous nine quarters. They threw eight passes. Two went for TDs of 9 and 37 yards, both from redshirt freshman Jack Schetelich to senior Taurus Phillips. Junior Aaron Forbes rushed for 140 yards on 13 attempts.
This won’t make up for all the things that went wrong for them this season. But this was their sixth straight win in the series, and 11th in the last 12 meetings.
Penn 29, Cornell 22
Justin Watson went out the way a historic player should. He had 13 receptions for 192 yards and a TD at Franklin Field, as the Quakers (6-4, 4-3 Ivy) won their fourth straight with a goal-line stand at the end.
Cornell (3-7, 3-4), which trailed, 21-10, at the half, went up by a point on a short TD run early in the fourth period. The Quakers later drove 97 yards with backup quarterback Nick Robinson to regain the lead on a 3-yard run by Tre Solomon (and a conversion pass to Watson) with 2:06 showing. The play before that had been a 34-yard completion to Watson.
Cornell would get to the 1 on a 28-yard pass at 0:18. But a run was stopped. And, following a spike, Jacob Martin broke up a pass in the end zone.
Watson leaves with a bunch of Penn and Ivy records. He caught at least two passes in all 40 of his games, and had a receiving TD in all 10 this year.
Central Florida 45, Temple 19
The Owls (5-6, 3-4 American Athletic) had won their last two. But UCF (10-0, 7-0), which is trying to get into a New Year’s Six bowl, led, 31-13, at halftime after trailing by three early in the second quarter. The margin was 32 with 5-1/2 minutes to go in the third.
McKenzie Milton threw for four scores and ran for another.
The Knights are the highest scoring team in FBS. And second-year coach Scott Frost, a former Nebraska QB, will be running a Power Five program soon. It’s mostly a matter of where.
The Owls had five turnovers. Four were interceptions.
They can still become bowl-eligible by winning at Tulsa (2-9, 1-6) this week.
Other local schools
In the Division II NCAA tournament, West Chester (9-3) won at Shippensburg (10-2), 27-6. The Rams had won there on Oct. 7 by 10. They will now face unbeaten Indiana (Pa.), which had an opening bye, on the road. They lost to IUP in the PSAC title game at home two weeks ago, 24-7.
And in Division III, fifth-ranked Delaware Valley (11-0) beat visiting New England University (8-3), which had won seven straight, 35-0. Next for the Aggies is a visit on Saturday from Husson (10-1), from Bangor, Maine. The Eagles (10-1) won at No. 19 Springfield (Mass.), which had been unbeaten. It was their first playoff win.
Mike Kern’s Top 10
1. Alabama (11-0). Beat Mercer, 56-0. Saturday: at Auburn. Has won five of the last six in series. Could still get into playoffs with close loss.
2. Miami (10-0). Beat Virginia, 44-28. Saturday: at Pitt. Hurricanes have won 18 of 20 meetings since 1976. Last year, it was 51-28.
3. Clemson (10-1). Beat The Citadel, 61-3. Saturday: at South Carolina. Last year, it was 56-7 at home.
4. Oklahoma (10-1). Beat Kansas, 41-3. Saturday: vs. West Virginia. Sooners have won all five Big 12 matchups. Last year, it was 56-28.
5. Wisconsin (11-0). Beat Michigan, 24-10. Saturday: at Minnesota. Has beaten Minny, which just lost, 39-0, at Northwestern, 13 in a row.
6. Georgia (10-1). Beat Kentucky, 42-13. Saturday: at Georgia Tech. Has lost two of the previous three to GT, which just lost, 43-20, at Duke.
7. Auburn (9-2). Beat Louisiana-Monroe, 42-14. Saturday: vs. Alabama. Last time the Tigers beat the Crimson Tide, in 2013, was on that last-play 100-yard field-goal return.
8. Ohio State (9-2). Beat Illinois, 52-14. Saturday: at Michigan. Buckeyes have beaten the Wolverines five straight, and 12 of 13. Sounds like Villanova-Delaware.
9. Notre Dame (9-2). Beat Navy, 24-17. Saturday: at Stanford. Irish have lost six of last eight to Cardinal.
10. Southern Cal (10-2). Beat UCLA, 28-23. Next: Pac-12 title game Dec. 2 vs. opponent TBD (Santa Clara, Calif.). If only it hadn’t lost by 35 at Notre Dame.
Next in line: Penn State (9-2), TCU (9-2), Washington (9-2), Central Florida (10-0), Memphis (9-1), andWashington State (9-2).
Fraud Five Plus
Arizona – It’s OK to lose at Oregon, even if Ducks had lost four of their previous five. But maybe not by 20.
West Virginia – Probably shouldn’t be losing at home by 14 to Texas, whose two wins in the previous five weeks were over Baylor and Kansas.
Minnesota – It’s OK to lose at Northwestern. But not by 39-0.
Oklahoma State – Shouldn’t be losing to Kansas State at home as double-digit favorite when you’re trying to get into the Big 12 title game.
Cincinnati – I know the Bearcats stink, but so does East Carolina. So losing there by 48-20 seems excessive.
BYU – I know Cougars aren’t good, but losing at home to Massachusetts still isn’t acceptable.
Syracuse – I know Orange was a 14-point underdog at Louisville. But it was 56-10.
Georgia Tech – Lost by 23 at Duke, which was a TD ‘dog.