Trace McSorley tossed a pair of touchdowns while racking up 240 yards through the air. It’s also apparent that Joe Moorhead gave Trace the green light to carry the ball once again, as he tallied 40 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, and also used his feet to keep a play alive to find a wide-open Mike Gesicki, which helped set up a one-yard touchdown run the following play by Trace. McSorley’s handoff to his backup Tommy Stevens on a jet sweep for a touchdown with the game already in the bag was borderline necrophilia.
Running Back: A
Saquon Barkley crossed the 1,000-yard barrier for the second straight season, rushing for 167 yards and also catching a game-sealing 44-yard touchdown on a wheel route early in the fourth quarter. When running sweep plays to the outside, Saquon seemed a full step faster than anybody in Iowa’s front seven, allowing him to routinely pick up chunks of yardage on such plays. If he can keep up these types of performances over the final three games of the regular season, perhaps he’ll have an outside shot at getting an invite to New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.
Wide Receiver/Tight End: A
Saeed Blacknall opened up the scoring for PSU with his touchdown grab in the corner of the end zone on the game’s opening drive against Iowa’s All-American corner Desmond King. Chris Godwin and Mike Gesicki led the way for the receiving corps with four catches each for 87 and 65 yards, respectively. Overall, it was a solid, productive evening for this unit.
Offensive Line: A-
Despite Chasz Wright being forced to spell for an injured Brendan Mahon early in the game, the unit only gave up one sack and Trace McSorley was only hurried a few times. Has there been a unit on this team that has improved more dramatically from last season than the offensive line?
Defensive Line: A
This unit did a solid job of stifling Iowa’s run game, holding them for 30 yards on the ground. They also accounted for three of Penn State’s four sacks on Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard. This type of a performance will get them an ‘A’ from me every time.
Much like the defensive line, this unit was also responsible for halting Iowa’s ground game. Jason Cabinda led the team in tackles with eight of them, including his Dikembe Mutombo-style denial of Beathard’s 4th-and-1 quarterback sneak. Koa Farmer also picked up a sack.
While they kept big passing plays to a minimum, they did give up a 204 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It sure was nice to see Troy Apke step up and make an interception with Iowa driving down the field early in the fourth quarter, trying to cut into PSU’s 27-7 lead. Apke’s interception helped set up the McSorley-to-Barkley touchdown pass on the ensuing play.
Special Teams: A-
Miles Sanders set the tone for the game from the opening kick, returning it all the way to midfield. Tyler Davis also remained perfect in his career on field goal attempts (when they don’t get blocked). Joey Julius booted all but one of his kickoffs into the end zone, and Blake Gillikin was back to his usual dynamic punting self by pinning Iowa near their own 10-yard line a couple of times.