All week, the usually unflappable Trace McSorley told himself, if he could settle his feet down, his arm would follow suit.
A week after Penn State’s quarterback played his most uneven game in a while, bouncing on his toes and firing over his teammates heads, he had one of his best under Beaver Stadium’s bright lights.
McSorley threw a stadium-record 85-yard touchdown pass to Saquon Barkley for one of his four scoring strikes and also ran for a touchdown in No. 5 Penn State’s 56-0 victory over Georgia State 56-0 on Saturday night.
“That was something that was in my mind,” McSorley said. “Last week, personally, I didn’t put our team in the best position through my play to win the game. Obviously, we were able to come out with a win but I felt that I didn’t put our team in the best position.”
That’s all he did against Georgia State (0-2) and he got off to a fast start.
McSorley completed 14 of 19 passes for 258 yards in the first half to help Penn State (3-0) take a 35-0 lead in a rare prime-time game against a non-Power Five opponent.
The junior quarterback finished 18 of 23 for 309 yards and running back Saquon Barkley had 226 all-purpose yards despite being sidelined for a stretch in the second quarter with a stomach bug.
Barkley returned to the game after a brief evaluation but wasn’t needed much longer. Penn State rested most of its starters after scoring on its first drive of the second half.
“I thought Trace definitely threw the ball better,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “Saquon, he’s just got so many tools. You’re talking about a 230-pound guy that can make you miss, can run you over and can burst down the sideline.”
Backup quarterback Tommy Stevens caught a touchdown pass and threw one, and DaeSean Hamilton, Brandon Polk and Saeed Blacknall added touchdown receptions for Penn State.
Miles Sanders ran one in while Barkley was being out, and Andre Robinson added a late rushing touchdown for Penn State.
Conner Manning completed 16 of 29 passes for 133 yards for Georgia State with three interceptions. The Panthers also lost two fumbles and Penn State turned all five turnovers into touchdowns.
BARKLEY’S OMINOUS TENT VISIT
Penn State’s sideline got a scare when Barkley signaled he needed a breather midway through the second quarter.
The Heisman candidate had just lowered his head on an inside run and was piled on by Panthers defenders. Although he popped up quick, Barkley walked slowly to the bench, sat down and hung his head for a bit before being shuffled into the team’s nearby medical tent by the team’s head athletic trainer.
Barkley emerged after a few minutes and returned to the game apparently no worse for wear. He said afterward he ate something before the game that didn’t agree with him and was fine after a brief reprieve.
“It didn’t really affect me in the game,” Barkley said.
Torrence Brown wasn’t as lucky.
Penn State’s starting defensive end suffered an apparent right knee injury and was carted off the field in the first quarter. Brown took a hard block low by Georgia State running back Kyler Neal and tried to get back to his feet before crumpling to the grass and grabbing for his knee.
Franklin didn’t update Brown’s status after the game.
ALLEN BREAKS A STREAK
One of Penn State’s most experienced players, fourth-year starter Marcus Allen has watched as underclassmen have snagged interception after interception during his tenure.
Allen, who was without an interception before Saturday, said after the Pitt game that he felt his was coming. He snatched Manning’ pass and returned it 50 yards to set up Penn State’s fifth touchdown.
“I told my dad two days before the game, ‘Dad, I swear, I promise you I’m going to get an interception before I leave Penn State,’” Allen said. “It feels like my birthday.”
Georgia State: The Panthers actually moved the ball at times early. They just couldn’t move it anywhere close to scoring position. Hart was explosive most of the night and was able to get open. Manning has a quick release and was able to keep Penn State’s pass rush at bay, but his accuracy needs to improve to keep his offense moving.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions continue to break big plays seemingly at will and their defense is thriving. With nearly three dozen players rotating in and out through the first three games, Penn State has allowed just one touchdown. With the conference opener looming, Penn State appears primed for another strong Big Ten run.
Georgia State hosts Charlotte.
Penn State travels to Iowa City to open Big Ten play.