Just like in Friday night’s Cotton Bowl, a Big Ten team jumped out to an early lead over a Pac-12 team in Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl. But unlike in the Cotton Bowl, the Pac-12 team (Washington) gave the Big Ten team (Penn State) all it could handle in the second half.
The Nittany Lions jumped out to an early 21-7 lead and held on for a 35-28 win after Washington closed to within a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Penn State took a 28-14 lead into halftime thanks to an explosive 92-yard touchdown run by All-American running back Saquon Barkley. The junior, who is likely heading to the NFL, wasn’t used as a workhorse on Saturday but when he was utilized, he was extremely effective. He finished with 19 carries for 137 yards and two touchdowns and had seven catches for 35 yards.
Washington got within seven points in the fourth quarter when the Huskies’ own great running back Myles Gaskin broke off a 69-yard touchdown run. But Penn State took over and bled most of the remaining seven minutes from the clock thanks to clutch third-down conversions from Barkley and wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton.
A Penn State field goal to make it a two-score game sailed wide right with 34 seconds left, but Washington’s last-gasp drive sputtered just as it was gaining some steam.
Washington tried a hook and lateral play on a fourth down and wide receiver Dante Pettis inexplicably threw the ball to a Penn State player instead of running out of bounds with five seconds left.
Penn State destroyed Washington on third downs throughout the entire game. Look at McSorley’s stat line on third downs.
Trace 3rd-down update:
12-for-12, 193 yards, 2 TDs, 10 conversions.
— Mark Wogenrich (@MarkWogenrich) December 31, 2017
He finished the game 32-41 passing for 322 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Hamilton had one of his best games of the season on Saturday. He finished with five catches for 122 yards and two scores. The first TD opened the scoring when he caught a 48-yard touchdown from quarterback Trace McSorley on the game’s opening drive.
Penn State ends the season 11-2 while Washington finishes the season 10-3. Washington quarterback Jake Browning, making his final start as the Huskies’ QB, was 18-28 for 175 yards and a touchdown.
Washington was the final Pac-12 team to play in a bowl after the 2017 season. Only Utah — who beat West Virginia — won a bowl game. Every other Pac-12 team has ended the season on a loss.
The Big Ten Network made sure to note that. Big Ten teams (Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State) went 4-0 over Pac-12 teams (Arizona, Washington State, USC and Washington).
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) December 31, 2017
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