Bracing for big offense in Columbus

Penn State looks to defend its claim as the Big Ten’s best team, Jonathan Taylor joins exclusive crowd, and Rutgers – yes, Rutgers – won its second-consecutive conference game.


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Penn State coach James Franklin speaks with members of the media during the Big Ten Media Days at McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Adam Hensley, [email protected]

Oct. 28 gives college football fans a game with major College Football Playoff implications.

No. 2 Penn State squares off against No. 6 Ohio State in Columbus, showcasing two of the nation’s prolific offenses.

Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin remains eager to put his defense up against a Buckeye offense lead by quarterback JT Barrett.

“Barrett has been playing at Ohio State for I think this is his 16th year, maybe going on 17, one of the most successful quarterbacks in school history, if not the most,” Franklin said. “You got to just completely respect everything that that guy’s been able to do in his career, and everything I know about him and have heard about him, he’s a class act. So that’s going to be a challenge for us, because he can beat you with his legs, he can beat you with his arm, he can beat you with his mind.”

So far this season, Barrett’s stat line hums to the tune of 1,838 yards and 21 touchdowns (tied for fourth in the country), with only a single interception and a 173.8 passer efficiency rating (No. 4 in the FBS).

But Penn State possesses one of the nation’s best offensive catalysts: running back Saquon Barkley.

Barkley has totaled 775 yards on the ground and 32 receptions for 448 yards. He’s scored 13 all-purpose touchdowns this season (8 rushing, 3 receiving, 1 returning, and 1 passing).

“He’s the best all-purpose guy we’ve probably faced in … maybe my career,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “He’s obviously a great running back. But they do a good job using him and creating matchup issues.”

Meyer compared the do-it-all back to former Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin, who played under Meyer and had great success in the run, pass, and return game.

Taylor’s freshman success continues

Jonathan Taylor carried the ball 22 times in Wisconsin’s win against Maryland on Oct. 21. He gained 126 yards and scored a touchdown.

The freshman’s stat line inserted him into prestigious company with the likes of Emmitt Smith, Marshall Faulk, Adrian Peterson, to name a few. Taylor reached the 1,000-yard mark this season in only seven games, matching the FBS record for fewest games to reach that many yards.

Taylor joined Smith, Faulk, Peterson, and Jamario Thomas as the only true freshmen to accomplish this feat.

One thing Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst has dealt with this season is monitoring Taylor’s workload.

“I think he’s been good,” Chryst said. “You want to be attentive to it. I don’t think it’s a special number [of carries] or something that way. It’s communication and making sure that you’re doing a good job with them during the week.”

Rutgers wins … again

The Scarlet Knights ride a hot streak heading into Week Nine for the first time in, well, a while.

“Obviously, this is a first, being in here, back-to-back victories, so it’s a good feeling,” Scarlet Knight head coach Chris Ash said.

Rutgers topped Purdue, 14-12, in a low-scoring, yet efficient game — turnover-wise, earning its first consecutive wins since joining the Big Ten.

The Scarlet Knights did not turn the ball over, playing some of the cleanest football Ash has seen this season. On defense, they limited the Boilermakers to 3-of-15 on third-down conversions.

Ash looked back on Rutgers’ embarrassing 56-0 blowout loss at home against Ohio State on Oct. 1.

“We challenged them … after the Ohio State game to bounce back and show tremendous grit and resolve and brotherhood, and they’ve done that.”

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