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Penn State

Penn State suspends two starters for Rose Bowl

| Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, 7:21 p.m.
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.

Two starters for Penn State, junior wide receiver Saeed Blacknall and sophomore linebacker Manny Bowen, were suspended because of a violation of team rules and will not play in the Rose Bowl against USC, the team announced Wednesday in a statement.

Blacknall and Bowen were listed as starters Dec. 16 when the Nittany Lions released their depth chart for Monday's game in Pasadena, Calif.

Coach James Franklin indicated Tuesday during an interview with the Fight On State website that players would be sidelined for the game because of a violation of team rules, but he would not say who or how many.

“We have some guys that won't participate for reasons that we won't get into right now, for violation of team rules, and we'll leave it at that,” Franklin said.

The 6-foot-3, 212-pound Blacknall missed three games because of injury and played in the other nine with seven starts. He starred in Penn State's 38-31 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, posting career highs with six catches, 155 yards and two touchdowns (40 and 70 yards).

For the season, he led the team with a 23.1-yard average per catch, with 15 receptions for 347 yards and three touchdowns. He had six catches of 20 or more yards.

The loss of the 6-1, 220-pound Bowen, who has been starting at strongside linebacker, will hurt because the Nittany Lions already are short-handed at the position because of injuries, having lost five linebackers for the season. Sophomore Koa Farmer is the backup at the position.

Bowen started 12 games for the Nittany Lions this season, making his first career start in the second game against Pitt. He is tied for fourth on the team with 68 tackles and tied for second with 8 12 tackles for losses. He was credited with two sacks and three quarterback hurries.

His best game came in the Lions' upset of Ohio State when he was in on 12 tackles.

Bowen played all three linebacker positions during the regular season, including an emergency stint in the overtime victory against Minnesota when the Lions ran out of middle linebackers because of injuries.

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