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Penn State routs Michigan State, earns spot in Big Ten title game

| Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, 7:33 p.m.
Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki (88) reacts after Penn State running back Andre Robinson's touchdown on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki (88) reacts after Penn State running back Andre Robinson's touchdown on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley leaps into the end zone for a touchdown against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley leaps into the end zone for a touchdown against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley celebrates his touchdown against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley celebrates his touchdown against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
Michigan State kicker Michael Geiger is congratulated by Michigan State tight end Matt Seybert after one of his field goals against Penn State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Michigan State kicker Michael Geiger is congratulated by Michigan State tight end Matt Seybert after one of his field goals against Penn State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley is pushed back shy of a touchdown by Michigan State safety Montae Nicholson, a Gateway High School graduate, on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley is pushed back shy of a touchdown by Michigan State safety Montae Nicholson, a Gateway High School graduate, on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
Penn State safety Marcus Allen poses with The Land-Grant Trophy after beating Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State safety Marcus Allen poses with The Land-Grant Trophy after beating Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State guard Brian Gaia poses with the Big Ten East trophy after beating Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State guard Brian Gaia poses with the Big Ten East trophy after beating Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State head coach James Franklin hoists the Big Ten East trophy after beating Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State head coach James Franklin hoists the Big Ten East trophy after beating Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State safety Marcus Allen poses with The Land-Grant Trophy after beating Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State safety Marcus Allen poses with The Land-Grant Trophy after beating Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State's Nick Miller reacts after beating Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12. Miller wore jersey No. 25 to honor injured teammate Von Walker.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State's Nick Miller reacts after beating Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12. Miller wore jersey No. 25 to honor injured teammate Von Walker.
Penn State guard Brian Gaia embraces defensive end Garrett Sickels on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State guard Brian Gaia embraces defensive end Garrett Sickels on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State kicker Tyler Davis reacts after his field goal against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State kicker Tyler Davis reacts after his field goal against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State wide receiver Juwan Johnson catches a pass over Michigan State's Malik Smith on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State wide receiver Juwan Johnson catches a pass over Michigan State's Malik Smith on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State wide receiver Irvin Charles can't haul in a pass in front of Michigan State cornerback Vayante Copeland on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State wide receiver Irvin Charles can't haul in a pass in front of Michigan State cornerback Vayante Copeland on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State place kicker Joey Julius reacts after beating Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State place kicker Joey Julius reacts after beating Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio congratulates Penn State head coach James Franklin after the game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio congratulates Penn State head coach James Franklin after the game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State defensive end Ryan Buchholz reacts with defensive tackle Kevin Givens after a sack against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State defensive end Ryan Buchholz reacts with defensive tackle Kevin Givens after a sack against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State running back Andre Robinson scores a touchdown against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State running back Andre Robinson scores a touchdown against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State running back Andre Robinson rushes against Michigan State safety Montae Nicholson on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State running back Andre Robinson rushes against Michigan State safety Montae Nicholson on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State head coach James Franklin kisses his wife Fumi after beating Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State head coach James Franklin kisses his wife Fumi after beating Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State running back Mark Allen is pushed by Michigan State safety Grayson Miller into the end zone for a touchdown on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State running back Mark Allen is pushed by Michigan State safety Grayson Miller into the end zone for a touchdown on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State linebacker Jason Cabinda can't hold onto the hand of Michigan State running back LJ Scott on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State linebacker Jason Cabinda can't hold onto the hand of Michigan State running back LJ Scott on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State defensive end Torrence Brown pumps up the crowd before a play against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State defensive end Torrence Brown pumps up the crowd before a play against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State safety Troy Apke recovers a fumble against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State safety Troy Apke recovers a fumble against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye brings down Michigan State running back Malik Smith after Smith's catch on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye brings down Michigan State running back Malik Smith after Smith's catch on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin catches a touchdown pass against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin catches a touchdown pass against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State's dance team The Lionettes dance during a timeout on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State beat Michigan State 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State's dance team The Lionettes dance during a timeout on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State beat Michigan State 45-12.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley walks off the field with an injury against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley walks off the field with an injury against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is treated by head athletic Tim Bream with an injury against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is treated by head athletic Tim Bream with an injury against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley walks off the field with an injury against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley walks off the field with an injury against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State cornerback Jordan Smith, Penn State cornerback Christian Campbell and Penn State cornerback Grant Haley pray before playing against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State cornerback Jordan Smith, Penn State cornerback Christian Campbell and Penn State cornerback Grant Haley pray before playing against Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio exits the locker room with his team before playing Penn State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio exits the locker room with his team before playing Penn State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State wide receiver Saeed Blacknall pushes against Michigan State cornerback Vayante Copeland on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State wide receiver Saeed Blacknall pushes against Michigan State cornerback Vayante Copeland on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State coach James Franklin
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State coach James Franklin
Michigan State exits the locker room before playing Penn State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Michigan State exits the locker room before playing Penn State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
A boy stands with an American Flag during the national anthem before the Penn State Michigan State game on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
A boy stands with an American Flag during the national anthem before the Penn State Michigan State game on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State head coach greets Penn State long snapper Zach Ladonis during senior day festivities before playing Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State head coach greets Penn State long snapper Zach Ladonis during senior day festivities before playing Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State long snapper Tyler Yazujian greets his parents during senior day festivities before playing Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State long snapper Tyler Yazujian greets his parents during senior day festivities before playing Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Penn State head coach greets Penn State guard Brian Gaia during senior day festivities before playing Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State head coach greets Penn State guard Brian Gaia during senior day festivities before playing Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State won 45-12.

UNIVERSITY PARK –– Calling Penn State a second-half team refers to more than just its play in the final 30 minutes of games.

The Nittany Lions (10-2, 8-1) defeated Michigan State, 45-12, on Saturday for their eighth consecutive win, a spot atop the Big Ten East and an appearance in the conference championship next week for the first time in program history.

The win caps the No. 7 Nittany Lions' turnaround in the second half of the regular season, which started with their upset of No. 2 Ohio State on Oct. 22.

“We have an opportunity to keep this family together for a few more weeks and see where it takes us,” coach James Franklin said.

A third-down sack from Curtis Cothran and Evan Schwan forced the Spartans' (3-9, 1-8) first three-and-out of the day and awoke the sleeping Lions.

The Spartans had 256 yards of offense by halftime compared to Penn State's 125.

On the ensuing drive, Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley lofted a 34-yard, over-the-shoulder pass to Chris Godwin in the end zone. It was the first of McSorley's four touchdown passes for the day.

“It was a double move,” Godwin said of the play. “They brought the corner in, so it was just me against the safety. It felt like it was in the air forever. But once it came down, it was just make the catch and fall into the end zone.”

McSorley rolled out of the pocket and pinpointed an on-the-run, 45-yard bomb through double coverage to tight end Mike Gesicki for Penn State's next score.

He found Godwin for a 59-yard touchdown pass on the next drive to push the Lions ahead 31-12 late in the third quarter.

The Lions have outscored opponents 118-47 in the third quarter this season.

The offensive success came in spite of a mostly ineffective game from running back Saquon Barkley, who left late in the third quarter with an apparent injury to his right foot. The sophomore was held to 14 yards rushing on 12 carries, but he scored the team's first touchdown on a 1-yard plunge.

Barkley's status for next week's Big Ten championship game is unknown, but his right ankle and foot were wrapped heavily while he was on the sideline in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, Penn State's defense stiffened, allowing the Spartans to gain just 87 yards of offense in the second half.

“Every game that Michigan State has played this year they've been up at some point,” defensive end Garrett Sickels said. “We just had to keep our poise, do our jobs and just calm down and execute on defense.”

Early in the first quarter, the 100,000-plus fans in attendance erupted in applause as they learned Ohio State defeated No. 3 Michigan in double overtime, a win that would secure the Lions' spot in the Big Ten championship as long as they beat the Spartans.

“I don't know if we were necessarily rooting for one team,” Franklin said. “We sure did want another team to lose. Probably the best way to describe it.”

As Penn State was presented with the Big Ten East trophy after the game, Franklin issued a list of thank-yous before adding an uncharacteristic bigger-picture statement.

“This is only the beginning,” he said.

Matt Martell is a freelance writer.

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