The Wisconsin Badgers (6-3), led by quarterback Alex Hornibrook, met the No. 20 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions (6-3), led by quarterback Trace McSorley, in a Big Ten NCAA college football game on Saturday, November 10, 2018 (11/10/18) at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania.
Here’s the AP recap:
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Trace McSorley and Penn State went back to a familiar formula Saturday — a steady diet of elusive Miles Sanders.
The resurgent running game put the Nittany Lions offense back on track, and got McSorley a milestone victory, too.
Sanders ran for 159 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, McSorley matched Todd Blackledge’s program record with his 29th win at quarterback and No. 21 Penn State beat Wisconsin 22-10.
If Sanders had been irritated that his rushing totals had fallen off along with the Nittany Lions’ offensive output lately, he hadn’t shown it. He considers himself a patient tailback, and he channeled some pent-up energy into running over the Badgers.
“People may say that at times (Sanders) had been frustrated, but you never saw that,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “Would we love to rush for more yards week in and week out? No doubt about it.”
Penn State (7-3, 4-3 Big Ten, No. 20 CFP) racked up 200-plus rushing yards in each of the first six games but had averaged just 120 over the last three. Meanwhile, McSorley — a key part of the team’s rushing attack — has been dealing with a sore right knee.
McSorley completed 19 of 25 passes for 160 yards and a TD. He appeared to hurt his left knee in the first half but got some relief watching Sanders juke through the Badgers with his shifty running style.
“Something that I don’t think he gets enough credit for is the balance he has,” McSorley said. “He’s able to take on a hit and shake it off, maintain his balance and keep going.”
The Badgers had no balance with starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook out with a concussion.
Jonathan Taylor ran 20 times for 185 yards and a touchdown for Wisconsin (6-4, 4-3), but backup quarterback Jack Coan completed just 9 of 20 passes for 60 yards with two interceptions and was sacked five times. The Badgers have lost three of their last five games.
“We’ve got to execute better,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. “We knew coming in, it’s a good defense.”
DeAndre Thompkins caught a touchdown pass for Penn State, and the Nittany Lions held the Badgers to 125 yards in the second half.
Jake Pinegar made three field goals for Penn State while Wisconsin kicker Rafael Gaglianone added the Badgers final points midway through the third quarter.
Wisconsin broke through first when Taylor ran 71 yards to the end zone on the Badgers’ first possession.
But McSorley led back-to-back scoring drives to give the Nittany Lions the lead for good. He hit Thompkins for a 14-yard touchdown pass to cap an eight-play drive, then led the offense just past midfield to set up Pinegar’s 49-yard field goal.
Sanders added a 1-yard touchdown run midway through the second.
Beaver Stadium was more difficult than usual for a quarterback to make his first career road start Saturday. Freezing temperatures were made worse by a constant wind powered by gusts up to 40 miles per hour.
At times, it looked like Penn State’s defensive line was playing that fast. Shareef Miller and Wisconsin native Robert Windsor each turned in two sacks, and Coan was hurried or hit a handful of times.
The Nittany Lions have been looking for more options in the passing game all season. Aside from KJ Hamler, who was targeted on six of Penn State’s first 12 plays, another consistent playmaker has yet to emerge.
But a handful of underclassmen saw their most extended playing time yet. Jahan Dotson, Cam Sullivan-Brown and Justin Shorter combined to play season-high snap counts and contributed a combined four catches for 51 yards.
Wisconsin: The Badgers were limited on offense without Hornibrook. Coan attempted just four passes in the first half and completed two for 10 yards. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions were able to load up the box and keep Taylor from getting into the end zone following his first big run.
Penn State: Offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne stuck with the running game and fed Sanders the ball, going back to what worked for Penn State earlier in the season as McSorley deals with a sore knee. The offensive line was solid, and the strategy worked well. It was Sanders’ first 100-yard rushing game since Oct. 13.
Wisconsin travels to Purdue.
Penn State visits Rutgers.
Here’s what you need to know:
What: College Football, Week 11
When: Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018
Where: Beaver Stadium
Time: 12 p.m. Eastern
Line: OSU -3.5
Series record: Tied 9-9.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
The Nittany Lions haven’t lost more than three games since 2015, the last season they failed to finish in the Top 25. They’ll try to avoid getting bounced from the rankings and hang on to hope of playing on New Year’s day with a strong finish. The Badgers still have a shot at winning the West Division, a game behind Northwestern with three weeks to play.
Penn State’s front seven vs. Wisconsin’s running game. Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor is averaging 151 yards per game with 11 touchdowns. He’s been especially strong coming out after halftime where he’s averaging 6.4 yards per carry in the third quarter. Minimizing Taylor’s impact has to be a priority for a defense that’s on pace to defend 961 plays after being on the field for 898 all of last season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Wisconsin: QB Jack Coan could make his second career start if Alex Hornibrook, who suffered a concussion last week against Rutgers, is ruled out. Coan has been solid with a 66 percent completion rate, 222 yards and a pair of touchdowns in two games. His other start also came on the road, came two weeks ago at Northwestern.
Penn State: RB Miles Sanders. Penn State’s offense has been stagnant lately and Sanders could provide a boost, especially if QB Trace McSorley still struggles with his knee injury. Sanders hasn’t been as involved since he caught six passes in a 21-touch effort on Oct. 20.
FACTS & FIGURES
Penn State has won three straight in the series including a 38-31 in the 2016 Big Ten title game. . Penn State was held to seven points at Michigan last week, the first time the Nittany Lions were held to single digits since Sept. 27, 2014. … McSorley (13.47) and Hornibrook (13.43) are No. 1 and 2 in the Big Ten, respectively, in yards per completion. . Heavy rain is expected to hit Happy Valley for most of the day Friday and has prompted Penn State to close most of its grass tailgating lots for the second time this season.