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The star of the offense is junior running back Saquon Barkley, who ran 69 yards for a touchdown on the second play of the game Saturday in a 42-13 victory against Michigan.
Urban Meyer press conference: Penn State week
Barkely gained 194 yards on 26 carries two seasons ago in a 38-10 loss in Columbus. Last season, he gained 99 yards on 12 carries against the Buckeyes in State College, Pa. He has 3,329 career rushing yards, leaving him 604 yards from breaking Penn State’s all-time record. He also has 80 career receptions for 1,011 yards.
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“He’s the best all-purpose guy we’ve probably faced in maybe my career,” Meyer said. “He’s obviously a great running back. But they do a good job using him and creating matchup issues.”
Meyer compared Barkley to one of his stars at Florida, Percy Harvin. Barkley can take a pounding better, however, Meyer said. Barkley ranks third in the Big Ten with 108.1 rushing yards per game, fifth in receptions with 32 and third in kickoff return yardage (30.3 per return). He leads the conference with 12 touchdowns (eight rushing, three receiving and one return).
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Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard looks forward to the challenge of stopping Barkley. The last time the Buckeyes faced a running back contending for the Heisman Trophy, he said, was 2014 when they played Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon in the Big Ten championship game.
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson, a former assistant coach at Penn State, will have his group extra motivated for this game, Hubbard said.
“He takes personal pride in teams coming in here and (not) running the ball,” Hubbard said. “That’s something he’s been preaching. We’ve got a big challenge. (Barkley’s) a special player. He makes his offensive line look great, finding any holes, making opportunities where there are none. The challenge is to swarm to him. He runs through arm tackles very easily. If we stay fundamentally sound in our gaps and don’t try to make big plays and make him come to us, once someone gets a hand on him, the rest of the bullets come flying. It’s going to take a group effort. There’s not going to be one guy who’s going to stop him.”
Penn State at Ohio State, 3:30 p.m., FOX, 1410