No. 20 Penn State Stifles Wisconsin
Sanders surpasses 1,000 rushing yards for the season; McSorley ties Penn State record for QB wins
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – No. 20 Penn State limited Wisconsin to its lowest point total (10 points) since 2014 and Miles Sanders rushed for 159 yards and a touchdown as the Nittany Lions earned a 22-10 win over the Badgers Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium.
Wisconsin (6-4, 4-3 Big Ten) was first on the scoreboard with a touchdown on its first possession, but Penn State (7-3, 4-3 Big Ten) outscored the Badgers 22-3 over the remainder of the game for its 10th-straight win over a Big Ten West Division opponent and fourth-straight win over Wisconsin. Penn State clinched its 14th consecutive winning season with the win, becoming one of just four teams to accomplish the feat thus far this season.
Sanders surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season and Jake Pinegar converted three field goals, including a pair of 40-plus yard boots. Quarterback Trace McSorley finished 19-for-25 passing with 160 yards and a touchdown pass to DeAndre Thompkins to tie the Penn State record for quarterback wins with his 29th, equaling the mark set by Todd Blackledge and Tony Sacca.
Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, the nation’s leading rusher, totaled 185 yards on 20 carries, including a 71-yard touchdown run on the Badgers’ first offensive possession. However, the Nittany Lion defense held the Badgers’ fourth-ranked rushing attack (273.0 yards per game) to 209 rushing yards and just 60 passing yards.
Penn State totaled a season-high four turnovers. Safety Nick Scott and cornerback Amani Oruwariye both recorded an interception and linebacker Micah Parsons finished with a team-best seven tackles. The defensive line was particularly impactful with defensive tackle and Fond du Lac, Wisconsin native Robert Windsor recording a career-high-tying six tackles and a personal-best two sacks, defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos making five tackles, one sack a forced fumble and fumble recovery, and fellow defensive end Shareef Miller recording two sacks and a fumble recovery.
Keys and Difference Makers
Miles Sanders (PSU, RB)
Sanders earned a career-high 23 carries and totaled 159 yards and a second-quarter touchdown that gave Penn State the lead for good. He also caught a two passes for 9 yards.
Sanders now has 1,007 rushing yards on the year to become the 26th Nittany Lion to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
Jonathan Taylor (UW, RB)
Taylor accounted for nearly 70 percent of Wisconsin’s total yardage on offense, totaling 185 yards on 20 carries. Seventy-nine yards came on Wisconsin’s first drive, as he totaled 8 yards on two carries before breaking free for a 71-yard touchdown run.
Taiwan Deal added 42 yards on three carries, including a 37-yard run that setup a field goal.
Penn State Pass Defense
The Nittany Lions totaled five sacks, with Windsor and Miller recording two each and Gross-Matos extending his sack streak to five games with one. Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan was limited to just nine completions and 60 yards on 20 passing attempts, and he was picked off by Oruwariye and Scott once each, who both earned their third interceptions of the year.
Trace McSorley (PSU, QB)
McSorley completed 19-of-25 pass attempts for 160 yards and a touchdown, tying Todd Blackledge (1980-82) and Tony Sacca (1988-91) for the Penn State record for wins as a starting quarterback at 29.
KJ Hamler and DeAndre Thompkins (PSU, WRs)
Hamler and Thompkins matched season highs with five receptions each. Thompkins totaled 31 yards and a touchdown, while Hamler totaled 35 yards.
Jake Pinegar (PSU, K)
On an extremely windy day, Pinegar matched his career high with a 49-yard field goal, and also converted from 42 and 23 yards, matching his career high of three conversions. He had a 44-yard attempt blocked and a 45-yard attempt fall just short.
Wisconsin was first on the scoreboard, needing just three plays to score, as Jonathan Taylor rushed for 2 yards and 6 yards before breaking free for a 71-yard touchdown run up the middle. However, the Penn State defense yielded just 65 total yards the rest of the half.
Penn State answered with an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. A pass interference penalty gave the Nittany Lions a key third down conversion, Sanders rushed twice for 17 yards and McSorley completed four of five passes for 32 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown pass to Thompkins.
A fumbled snap gave Penn State the ball at its own 48, setting up a field goal drive. Pinegar converted from 49 yards out to give Penn State a 10-7 lead with 1:53 remaining in the first quarter.
The Nittany Lions extended their lead with 8:09 remaining in the second quarter on a Sanders touchdown plunge over the goal line. Sanders rushed for 17 yards to start the drive and later for 23 yards on third-and-7 from the Wisconsin 40. McSorley followed that play with a 14-yard pass to Pat Freiermuth and back-to-back rushes by Sanders resulted in the touchdown. The extra point kick sailed wide right though, leaving Penn State with a 16-7 lead.
Oruwariye pulled in his third interception of the season for Penn State with 12 seconds remaining in the half at the Wisconsin 46, and a 20-yard Tommy Stevens run setup a 44-yard field goal attempt, but it was blocked by Isaiahh Loudermilk to conclude the half.
Wisconsin started with the ball in the second half and pulled within six points on a 28-yard field goal by Rafael Gaglianone. Deal keyed the drive with a 37-yard run. However, Penn State restored its nine-point lead with a 42-yard field goal by Pinegar with 4:07 remaining in the third quarter.
Pinegar converted from 23 yards out for the final margin, 22-10, with 7:23 remaining. Wisconsin moved into Penn State territory twice following the final score, but was stopped on fourth down with 2:49 remaining and intercepted by Scott with 34 seconds remaining.
The Nittany Lions return to action next Saturday at Rutgers. Game time and television coverage is to be announced.