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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -It was a historic Saturday night in Beaver Stadium, led by a 376-yard, four-touchdown passing performance by quarterback Trace McSorley and a second-half shutout on defense, No. 7 Penn State defeated Michigan State, 45-12, to clinch a share of the Big Ten East Division title and earn a trip to the Big Ten Championship next Saturday in Indianapolis.
It's Penn State's (10-2, 8-1 Big Ten) second Big Ten divisional championship and it will be its first championship game appearance since the conference adopted the format in 2011. Penn State owns three overall Big Ten titles and two divisional crowns since joining the conference in 1993.
The victory extended Penn State's winning streak to eight for its longest since tallying nine in a row in 2008. It's also Penn State's sixth 10-win regular season since joining the Big Ten and its first since 2009. Penn State has eight Big Ten wins for just the second time, and the Nittany Lions also finished the regular season 7-0 at home for the first time since 2008.
Penn State trailed Michigan State (3-9, 1-8 Big Ten), 12-10 at halftime, but true to form, the Nittany Lions rallied in the second half, outscoring the Spartans, 35-0.
McSorley led an offensive onslaught in the third quarter on Penn State's first three offensive possessions, throwing touchdown passes of 34 yards to Chris Godwin, 45 yards to Mike Gesicki and 59 yards again to Godwin to build a 31-12 lead.
Senior linebacker Brandon Bell led the Penn State defense with 18 tackles. The unit surrendered 256 yards and four field goals in the first half, but yielded just 87 yards and no scores in the second half. The Nittany Lion defense has now held opponents without a touchdown in back-to-back games for the first time since 2009 and the first time since 2006 in Big Ten games.
The Penn State defense failed to get a stop in the first half, but did not allow a touchdown, and the Nittany Lions only trailed by two at the break. The defense forced a three-and-out after Michigan State received the kickoff to open the second half, and it was all Penn State from there, as McSorley threw touchdowns on the Lions' next three drives to open a 31-12 lead.
- QB Trace McSorley - Trace McSorley completed 17-of-23 passes for a career-high 376 yards and a personal-best four touchdowns, going 10-for-14 for 265 yards and the four touchdowns after halftime. He extended his consecutive games with a touchdown pass streak to 13, dating back to last season's TaxSlayer Bowl, and his 12-straight games this season ties a program record first set by Matt McGloin in 2012. It was his fourth 300-yard passing game of the season, tying a program mark held by Matt McGloin (2012) and Christian Hackenberg (2013 and 2014).
- WR Chris Godwin - Godwin enjoyed his first 100-plus receiving yard game since the Temple game in September and the eighth of his career, finishing with five catches for 135 yards. He had touchdowns of 34 and 59 yards, and his nine touchdowns this season break the Penn State record for touchdown receptions by a junior.
- TE Mike Gesicki - Gesicki hauled in a pair of passes to total 64 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown in the third quarter. With the 64 yards, he set a new Penn State record for receiving yards in a season by tight end with 610.
- RB Andre Robinson - Robinson scored the game's final two touchdowns, scoring a 14-yard rush and a career-long 40-yard reception. He led Penn State with 32 rushing yards on three carries.
- RB Saquon Barkley - In the second quarter, Barkley scored Penn State's first touchdown of the game, leaping over a Michigan State defender for a 1-yard score. It was his 22nd career rushing touchdown to give him sole possession of 15th place on the Penn State career list. His 14 rushing yards in the game gave him 1,219 for the season, moving him into 12th place all-time at Penn State
- LB Brandon Bell - Bell tied his career high for tackles of 18. His other 18-tackle game came against Ohio State earlier this season.
- Pass Rush - Defensive tackles Kevin Givens and Parker Cothren and linebacker Manny Bowen recorded a sack each, while defensive linemen Curtis Cothran and Evan Schwan combined for a sack.
- K Mike Geiger - Geiger converted all four of his field goal attempts in the first half with a long of 36.
- RB LJ Scott - Scott led the Spartans with 59 yards rushing on 16 carries.
- WR Josiah Price - Price led the Spartans with six catches for 63 yards.
- Quarterbacks - Damion Terry and Tyler O'Connor combined to complete 24-of-45 passes for 219 yards. Terry started but left in the second quarter with an injury.
MSU - 8:13 - FG - Michael Geiger - 28 yd Kick, 12 plays, 76 yards, 4:33 - 0-3
MSU - 2:44 - FG - Michael Geiger - 36 yd Kick, 11 plays, 49 yards, 4:19 - 0-6
PSU - 13:11 - FG - Tyler Davis 35 yd Kick, 10 plays, 60 yards, 4:24 - 3-6
MSU - 7:17 - FG - Michael Geiger 33 yd Kick, 13 plays, 59 yards, 5:54 - 3-9
PSU - 2:14 - TD - Saquon Barkley 1 yd Rush, 10 plays, 78 yards, 4:57 - 10-9
MSU - 0:10 - FG - Michael Geiger 21 yd Kick, 14 plays, 72 yards, 2:04 - 10-12
PSU - 11:02 - TD - Chris Godwin 34 yd Pass from Trace McSorley, 5 plays, 52 yards, 2:11 - 17-12
PSU - 7:03 - TD - Mike Gesicki 45 yd Pass from Trace McSorley, 5 plays, 69 yards, 1:51 - 24-12
PSU - 2:05 - TD - Chris Godwin 59 yd Pass from Trace McSorley, 2 plays, 62 yards, 0:49 - 31-12
PSU - 6:33 - TD - Andre Robinson 14 yd Rush, 4 plays, 42 yards, 1:49 - 38-12
PSU - 3:40 - TD - Andre Robinson 40 yd Pass from Trace McSorley, 4 plays, 83 yards, 0:46 - 45-12
MICHIGAN STATE 12:46-8:13 (4:33, 12 plays, 76 yards) - FIELD GOAL
After forcing a three-and-out on the opening kickoff, the Spartans were first on the scoreboard. A 39-yard pass play to R.J. Shelton keyed the drive, flipping the field from Michigan State's 27 to the Penn State 34. Michael Geiger connected on a 28-yard field goal.
Michigan State 3, Penn State 0
MICHIGAN STATE 7:03-2:44 (4:19, 11 plays, 49 yards) - FIELD GOAL
The Spartans forced another three-and-out and drove 49 yards for another field goal. Michigan State reached the Penn State 13, but back-to-back tackles for loss pushed the Spartans back to the 19. Geiger was able to convert just inside the left upright from 36-yards out.
Michigan State 6, Penn State 0
PENN STATE 2:35 (1st Qtr) -13:11 (4:24, 10 plays, 60 yards) - FIELD GOAL
The Penn State offense found its stride on its third possession, leading to a field goal. Mike Gesicki pulled in a 19-yard reception along the sideline, and back-to-back double-digit games by Chris Godwin and DeAndre Thompkins moved the Nittany Lions near field goal range at the Michigan State 26. Barkley and McSorley looked to get the next first down on the ground, but the Spartans stopped McSorley 1-yard short on third-and-4. Tyler Davis connected from 35 yards.
Michigan State 6, Penn State 3
MICHIGAN STATE 13:11 -7:17 (5:54, 13 plays, 59 yards) - FIELD GOAL
Damion Terry opened the drive with a 23-yard completion to Josiah Price to move Michigan State to its 48. The Spartans then drove to the Penn State 7, but on third-and-5, Manny Bowen dropped quarterback Tyler O'Connor for nine yards to force a field goal try, which was converted by Geiger from 33 yards out.
Michigan State 9, Penn State 3
PENN STATE 7:11 -2:14 (4:57, 10 plays, 78 yards) - TOUCHDOWN
Completions of 16 yards to DaeSean Hamilton, and a play later, 25 yards to DeAndre Thompkins, moved the Nittany Lions into Michigan State territory at the 32. On second-and-14 from the Michigan State 22, McSorley found Saeed Blacknall in space, and he ran for the first down at the Michigan State 6. An offside penalty on the Spartans moved the Lions to the 3, and on third-and-1, Barkley leapt over the Michigan State line into the end zone.
Penn State 10, Michigan State 9
MICHIGAN STATE 7:11 -2:14 (2:04, 14 plays, 72 yards) - FIELD GOAL
A 17-yard completion to R.J. Shelton from the Michigan State 25 to the 42 opened the drive, and a pair of third-and-medium conversions kept the drive alive. The Nittany Lion defense again clamped down in the red zone, halting Michigan State at the 3. Geiger converted from 21 yards for his fourth field goal of the half.
Michigan State 12, Penn State 10
PENN STATE 13:13-11:02 (2:11, 5 plays, 52 yards) - TOUCHDOWN
Michigan State received the kickoff to start the half but was stopped for the first time, going three-and-out after a third-down sack by Curtis Cothran and Evan Schwan moved the Spartans back to their own 8. The ensuing punt went 44 yards to the Penn State 48. The Lions advanced to the 34 over the next four plays, and then McSorley found a wide-open Chris Godwin in the end zone on a play-action pass.
Penn State 17, Michigan State 12
PENN STATE 8:54-7:03 (1:51, 5 plays, 69 yards) - TOUCHDOWN
Penn State started at its own 31 and moved down field after Barkley totaled 11 yards on a rush and catch, and then Andre Robinson found a crease for a 15-yard rush to the Michigan State 43. Barkley lost two yards on the next play, but it did not matter as McSorley connected on a 45-yard touchdown pass to Mike Gesicki down the left sideline.
Penn State 24, Michigan State 12
PENN STATE 2:54-2:05 (0:49, 2 plays, 62 yards) - TOUCHDOWN
Michigan State appeared poised to make it a one-score game, but a botched snap was recovered by Troy Apke at the Penn State 41. After Barkley carried the ball for three yards, McSorley found Godwin behind the secondary on a post route for a 59-yard touchdown.
Penn State 31, Michigan State 12
Andre Robinson added a pair of touchdowns, scoring on the ground from 14 yards out with 6:33 remaining and again on a 40-yard pass with 3:40 remaining for the final margin.
Penn State will face No. 6 Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game Saturday at 8 p.m. in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The game will be televised on FOX.