Penn State bowl projections: Indiana rout keeps College Football Playoff dreams alive

At the start of each week, Land of 10 will break down the postseason implications, and projections, to come out of the Penn State Nittany Lions’ latest contest …

What happened: Saquon Barkley rocked, and the Nittany Lions (5-0) rolled Indiana 45-14. It was game balls all around. Wideout DaeSean Hamilton caught 9 balls and scored 3 touchdowns in becoming Penn State’s all-time career receptions leader. Barkley added diversity to his expanding Heisman Trophy resume, throwing for a touchdown — to Hamilton, naturally — and running a kickoff back 98 yards for another score.

What it means: Besides some more creative clips for Barkley’s 2017 highlight tape, Saturday kept the train rolling toward a berth in the College Football Playoff. A 28-point outburst in the first quarter took most of the Hoosiers’ oxygen out of the room fairly quickly and decisively and papered some of the cracks to come. Because Indiana would go on to sack quarterback Trace McSorley 5 times and corralled Barkley to an almost-mortal 56 rushing yards on 20 carries. The Nittany Lions have depth to spare, but the status of injured tight end Mike Gesicki — who suffered an upper-body injury after a pop by Indiana linebacker Tegray Scales — probably bears keeping an eye on.

Projected record: Massey Ratings — 10-2; TeamRankings.com — 10-2

(Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

Projected postseason destination: Orange Bowl, Dec. 30, Miami Gardens, Fla., versus an ACC opponent.

Cheapest seat at TicketCity.com as of Sunday: $130

Up next: At Northwestern on Saturday. The Wildcats (2-2) emptied the tank early in a 33-24 loss at unbeaten Wisconsin, got pushed back, then emptied the tank again to make it interesting late. Yet the Nittany Lions know what the Badgers and Duke knew already: Northwestern’s offensive line is slow, porous and a weak spot good teams can readily exploit, and the Wildcats receiving corps has about a tenth of Penn State’s comparative explosiveness on a good day. Quarterback Clayton Thorson continues to develop, but he doesn’t have much time or safety valve Austin Carr (New Orleans Saints) to bail him out anymore, and star tailback Justin Jackson reportedly is banged up. Team Fitz doesn’t have the horses to run with the Nittany Lions, although precedent dictates that they’ll probably scrap and claw enough to try to make it interesting, especially at home. As with visits to Iowa, the bottom line is survival more than style points.

The post Penn State bowl projections: Indiana rout keeps College Football Playoff dreams alive appeared first on Land of 10.

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