STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Trace McSorley completed 17 of 23 passes for 376 yards and four touchdowns and No. 8 Penn State beat Michigan State 45-12 to win the Big Ten East on Saturday.
Penn State (10-2, 8-1 Big Ten, No. 7 CFP) edged No. 2 Ohio State for the East title, setting up a conference championship game against West winner Wisconsin next week in Indianapolis. The Nittany Lions beat Ohio State 24-20 at home Oct. 22.
McSorley set single-season school record for total offense and sparked the Nittany Lions with multiple deep passes in the second half when Penn State outscored Michigan State 35-0.
He threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Chris Godwin down the sideline on Penn State’s first second-half possession and followed it with a 45-yarder to Mike Gesicki on the next drive. Godwin got loose down the middle minutes later and McSorley hit him in stride for 59 yards to give Penn State a 31-12 lead and cap a 21-point third quarter.
Andre Robinson added 14- and 40-yard touchdown runs in the fourth quarter for Penn State, and Saquon Barkley scored on a 1-yard run in the second. Barkley left in the third quarter with an apparent right leg injury and did not return.
Tyler Davis added a second-quarter field goal for Penn State.
Michael Geiger kicked four field goals for the Spartans (3-9, 1-8), the last giving Michigan State a 12-10 halftime lead.
The Nittany Lions will get another shot to impress the selection committee in the Big Ten championship game. As for a shake up right now, the question is how far will No. 3 Michigan fall having lost two of its last three, including a double-overtime game at Ohio State.
The Spartans’ run of nine straight seasons with a bowl appearance under Mark Dantonio was snapped weeks ago. Their chance to play spoiler was hindered by more injuries Saturday. Dantonio’s squad, which started different lineups on both sides of the ball in every game, lost starting quarterback Damion Terry (concussion), guard Brandon Clemons and TE Josiah Price. Running back LJ Scott hurt his right leg in the first half, and although he returned, was not effective.
With injuries mounting, Penn State appeared destined for another ho-hum season at best after a Week 4 loss to Michigan dropped the Nittany Lions to 2-2. The vibes were bad enough that athletic director Sandy Barbour had to publicly refute speculation that Franklin’s seat was hot. Franklin’s team recovered and hasn’t lost since that afternoon in Ann Arbor. Of even more significance is Penn State got it done with one of the youngest rosters in the country. It’ll lose just 17 seniors and return many key contributors next season.