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Penn State Hoping to Put Michigan Debacle Behind it When it Hosts Wisconsin Saturday
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Coming off an embarrassing loss at Michigan last week, No. 21/20 Penn State hosts a rematch of the 2016 Big Ten Championship Game when Wisconsin visits Beaver Stadium Saturday at noon on ABC.
(Photo by Paul Burdick. Check out more of Burdick’s work here)
The Nittany Lions and Badgers are meeting for the first time since Penn State rallied from a 21-point deficit to win the 2016 Big Ten Championship and advance to the Rose Bowl. Penn State wants to extend a three-game winning streak against Wisconsin, which started with an overtime victory in 2012, and a nine-game winning streak against Big Ten West Division opponents.
Penn State looks to bounce back from the uncharacteristic outing at Michigan. The Nittany Lions were within striking distance until turnovers helped Michigan put the game out of reach in the final 16 minutes of the contest. It was the Lions’ first double-digit loss since 2016.
Notable Nittany Lions include quarterback Trace McSorley, who became the 14th Big Ten quarterback to surpass 9,000 career passing yards and still ranks second in the Big Ten this season with 14.0 points responsible for per game. Sophomore defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos ranks second in the Big Ten in tackles for loss (1.5 per game) and is third in the conference in sacks (0.78 per game). Gross-Matos has made 23 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks in the last three weeks after making 17 tackles, 6.5 TFLs and 2.0 sacks the previous six weeks.
Wisconsin is led by running back Jonathan Taylor, who leads the country with 1,363 rushing yards. The Badgers average 273.0 rushing yards per game to lead FBS.
It will be THON Day to celebrate the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. Penn State will wear “THON” stickers on its helmets and the Penn State student section will wear yellow. THON has raised more than $147,000,000 in its history to benefit the Four Diamonds Fund.
WISCONSIN HEAD COACH PAUL CHRYST
- Paul Chryst is in his fourth season as head coach at his alma mater. He is a former Wisconsin player and assistant coach and a Madison, Wisconsin, native.
- Chryst is a back-to-back Big Ten Coach of the Year selection and has guided the Badgers to a 34-7 (.829) record and two Big Ten West Division championships over his first three seasons.
- Chryst is the third coach in modern Big Ten history (1946-present) to win at least 40 of his first 50 career games at a league school (40-10), joining Urban Meyer (44-6; Ohio State) and Bo Schembechler (47-3; Michigan).
- Chryst was the head coach at Pitt for three seasons (2012-14) and led the Panthers to bowl games in each.
- Prior to his stint at Pitt, Chryst was the Badgers’ offensive coordinator for seven years. During those seven seasons, Wisconsin claimed a pair of Big Ten titles and compiled a 70-22 (.761) record, winning at least 10 games five times.
- Chryst was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Oregon State in 2003-04. That followed his first stint at Wisconsin in 2002, as tight ends coach.
SCOUTING THE BADGERS
- Wisconsin is tied for second in the Big Ten West Division with a 4-2 conference record and 6-3 overall record.
- Wisconsin has won 19 of its last 21 regular-season league games, dating back to the 2016 season.
- The Badgers are 1-1 against the Big Ten East, falling to Michigan, 38-13, and defeating Rutgers last week, 31-17.
- The Badgers rank in the top five in the conference in both total offense (4th; 447.2 ypg) and total defense (5th; 352.8 ypg).
- Wisconsin is led by its prolific rushing attack, which leads the Big Ten and ranks fourth in FBS averaging 273.0 yards per game.
- Running back Jonathan Taylor leads FBS with 1,363 rushing yards and 151.4 rushing yards per game. He also has a Big Ten-best 11 rushing touchdowns.
- Quarterback Alex Hornibrook ranks second in the Big Ten to Penn State’s Trace McSorley (13.47 yds) in yards per completion, averaging 13.43.
PENN STATE SUCCESS AGAINST THE WEST
- Penn State has won its last nine games against Big Ten West Division opponents, dating back to an overtime win over Minnesota on Oct. 1, 2016.
- The streak includes Penn State’s Big Ten Championship Game victory over Wisconsin in 2016 and three wins over Iowa.
- Wisconsin is Penn State’s third and final scheduled West Division opponent this season.
PENN STATE IN THE RANKINGS
- Penn State is ranked No. 20 in the Amway Coaches Poll and No. 21 in the Associated Press poll.
- Penn State was ranked No. 14 in the initial 2018 College Football Playoff Rankings.
- Penn State’s 35-straight weeks in the AP Top 25 is the fifth-longest active streak in FBS.
- Penn State has been ranked in the last 12 CFP rankings, dating back to its first-ever appearance in the first poll of the 2016 season.
- Trace McSorley is 2 TDs shy of 100 career touchdowns responsible for … 127 yards shy of the PSU career QB rushing record of 1,637 yards held by Michael Robinson (2002-05) … 195 yards shy of the PSU career QB season record of 806 held by Michael Robinson (2005) … 289 yards shy of 2,000 passing yards on the season … 45 completions shy of 700 career completions … 389 yards shy of 1,000 rushing yards this season.
- Juwan Johnson is 23 receptions shy of 100 career receptions.
- Miles Sanders is 152 yards shy of 1,000 rushing yards on the season.
- Tommy Stevens is 54 yards shy of 500 career rushing yards.
McSORLEY A MAXWELL SEMIFINALIST
- QB Trace McSorley is among 20 semifinalists for The Maxwell Award.
- The Maxwell Award has been given to America’s College Player of the Year since 1937.
- Penn State is tied for the national lead among all schools with its seven Maxwell Award winners.
- Penn State is 26-6 in its last 32 games, the best span since going 26-6 from the start of the 2008 season to the first five games of 2010.
- Penn State is 28-8 over the past three seasons (2016-18), for the 11th-best record in FBS.
- Dating back to 2015, Penn State has won 23 of its last 26 home games.
- Penn State’s 42 wins over the last five years (2014-18) rank tied for 15th in FBS and third in the Big Ten (Ohio State, 57; Wisconsin, 51; Michigan State 42).
- Penn State’s 84 wins over the last 10 years (2009-18) rank tied for 18th in FBS and fourth in the Big Ten (Wisconsin, 100; Ohio State, 98; Michigan State, 90).
- Penn State’s 128 wins over the last 15 years rank tied for 16th in FBS and third in the Big Ten (Ohio State, 149; Wisconsin, 147).
- Penn State and Wisconsin are the only Big Ten teams to have posted a winning season in the last 13 consecutive years.
- Penn State is one of eight teams (USC, LSU, Florida State, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia Tech) in the Autonomy Five to have a winning record each of the last 13 years.
- Overall in the FBS, Penn State is one of nine teams with a winning record in each of the last 13 years (Boise State).
GREEN LIGHT IN THE RED ZONE
- Penn State has scored on 61 of its last 64 red zone trips, including 52 touchdowns.
- Penn State had scored on 26-straight trips to the red zone (including 24 touchdown drives) before missing a field goal in the third quarter against Michigan State.
- This season, Penn State ranks eighth in FBS and second in the Big Ten with a 94.6 percent success rate in the red zone.
- Penn State’s 91.67 percent scoring rate score over the last two seasons is tied for fifth in FBS.
- Penn State leads the FBS in red zone touchdown rate over the last two years, reaching the end zone on 79.17 percent of red zone trips.
SANDERS & HAMLER ALL-PURPOSE
- WR/KR KJ Hamler (124.22) and RB Miles Sanders (107.67) rank fourth and eighth, respectively, in the Big Ten in all-purpose yardage per game. Hamler ranks 26th nationally.
- Sanders is averaging 94.2 yards per game rushing and 13.4 yards per game receiving.
- Hamler is averaging 57.4 yards per game receiving, 63.2 yards per game on returns and 3.6 yards per game on rushes.
CAUSING CHAOS BEHIND THE LINE
- Penn State leads the Big Ten in both sacks (3.2) and tackles for loss (7.4) per game. Nationally, Penn State ranks ninth and 20th, respectively.
- Penn State is continuing to bring a balanced pass rush, as 14 different Nittany Lions have contributed to the team’s 26 sacks for the season.
- DE Yetur Gross-Matos has recorded at least a half-sack in each of the last four games. He tallied a sack at Michigan to extend the streak and has 5.5 sacks during the span.
- Gross-Matos tallied a career-high 4.0 tackles for loss against Iowa and tied his career high with 2.0 sacks, marking the second-straight week he posted 2.0 sacks. He was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week following the Iowa game.
- Gross-Matos ranks second in the Big Ten and 17th in FBS with 1.5 TFLs per game. He also ranks third in the Big Ten and 19th in FBS with 0.78 sacks per game.
- Gross-Matos had a career-high 10 tackles, including six solo stops at Indiana, the most by a Penn State defensive lineman since Austin Johnson had 10 stops at Northwestern in 2015. Gross-Matos’ 10 stops are the most by a Penn State defensive end since Carl Nassib had 10 tackles at Temple in 2015.
- DE Shaka Toney recorded 4.0 sacks at Indiana, all coming in the fourth quarter, doubling his previous career high of 2.0 against Northwestern in 2017.
- Toney’s 4.0 sacks tied the Penn State single-game record, equaling the mark held by three others – Terry Killens vs. Indiana, 1995; Jimmy Kennedy at Wisconsin, 2002; Tamba Hali vs. Wisconsin, 2005.
- Penn State has 29 sacks in 2018. The Nittany Lions totaled 42 sacks in 13 games in 2017. Following totals of 46 sacks in 2015 and 40 sacks in 2016, Penn State posted back-to-back-to-back 40-sack seasons for the first time since it posted three-consecutive 40-sack seasons in 2005 (41), 2006 (40) and 2007 (46).
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