WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Penn State crossed several items off its to-do list Saturday in becoming bowl eligible, staying within a game of first place in the Big Ten East and ending a seven-game road losing streak.
Saquon Barkley ran for 207 yards and two touchdowns, Trace McSorley threw three scoring passes, and the Nittany Lions used a 24-point third quarter as the centerpiece of their 62-24 victory against Purdue.
The Nittany Lions (6-2, 4-1 in the Big Ten) converted an interception, a fumbled punt and a failed onside kick into third-quarter touchdowns on their way to a fourth consecutive victory, They snapped the seven-game road slide that began in 2014, and defeated struggling Purdue for an eighth consecutive time.
Penn State’s 62 points are the most scored by an opponent in Ross-Ade Stadium, which was completed in 1924. Ohio State’s 56-0 victory against Purdue in 2013 was the record.
“We were talking at halftime about having a sense of urgency, and we came out in the second half with that in mind,” McSorley said. “Everyone kind of loosened up in the second half. In the first half, we were playing tense. We weren’t playing loose. We came out in the second half and played loose.”
Tied at 17 through two quarters, the Nittany Lions outscored Purdue (3-5, 1-4) 24-7 in the pivotal third quarter. McSorley threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Chris Godwin and for 21 yards to Miles Sanders for another.
“I think we did a good job of digesting what the coaches were saying at halftime and taking that out on the field,” said Godwin, who caught five passes for 58 yards. “We definitely were a focused football team in the second half, and it’s very important for us to both run and pass when we have to. You never know when someone is going to shut you down in one of those aspects.”
Barkley extended the Penn State lead to 48-24 with 13:56 remaining on a career-best 81-yard run along the right sideline. It was the longest touchdown run by a Nittany Lion since Larry Johnson’s 84-yarder in 2002 against Illinois.
“We knew we were going to have a battle,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “Early in the game, we just made too many mistakes. We are usually one of the most disciplined teams in football. I don’t want to say we’re a second-half team, but in the locker room, we decided we were a second-half team. We made plays, and their turnovers were huge.”
Purdue, which got two touchdown passes from David Blough, including a 62-yarder to DeAngelo Yancey, led 14-7 and 17-14 in the second quarter.
“We haven’t been able to take care of the ball in the second half, and that is the biggest thing,” Blough said. “We scored only seven points in the second half, and that is unacceptable for the expectations we have for this offense.”
McSorley finished 12 of 23 of 228 yards and the career-best three TDs. Blough completed 34 of 50 passes for 281 yards. He was intercepted once, which set up a third-quarter TD.
“We had great energy in the first half, and then when we came out of the half … that’s completely on me,” said Purdue interim coach Gerad Parker , who took over when fourth-year coach Darrell Hazell was fired on Oct. 16. “When things didn’t go our way, we didn’t respond.”
Penn State: After upsetting then-No. 2 Ohio State last Saturday, the Nittany Lions started slowly, but completely dominated the second half, winning for the fourth consecutive time in October. McSorley and Barkley gave Penn State the perfect mix of passing and running, helping the Nittany Lions amass 511 yards of offense.
Purdue: In consecutive losses to Nebraska and Penn State, the Boilermakers have been outscored a collective 62-7 during second-half action. Purdue’s margin for error is slim to begin with, but the second-half miscues against Penn State produced a brutal outcome.
The Nittany Lions, coming off their big win against the Buckeyes, should move up a bit in the AP Top 25 (http://www.collegefootball.ap.org/poll).
Penn State: In amassing 511 total yards, the Nittany Lions had almost perfect balance, rushing for 257 yards and passing for 254 without turning over the ball.
Purdue: While the Boilermakers ran the ball with ease on Oct. 8 in a victory at Illinois, their 26 rushes against Penn State netted only 46 yards, with Markell Jones’ 23-yarder in the first half being their longest.
Penn State: The Lions host Iowa next Saturday.
Purdue: The Boilermakers play next Saturday at Minnesota