8. Trace McSorley Penn State QB ... 14 TDs passing, 7 rushing
9. David Sills West Virginia WR ... nation's scoring leader
10. Lamar Jackson Louisville QB ... 2016 Heisman winner
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley dives into the end zone for one of his 3 rushing TDs in a 42-13 rout of Michigan last Saturday night.
by Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
No, really, it is.
Hey, got it. The popular narrative calls for all credit, hullabaloo and hype revolving around the Penn State football program to head in Saquon Barkley’s direction. He is a great player, seems to be a great guy and, for all intents and purposes, appears to be a great representative not only of the school, the Nittany Lions, and the sport, but sports in general and, perhaps, life at large.
It all fits in one, nice, little “oh, he’s the Heisman winner, no doubt” package so nicely, so perfectly that, ya know, you almost hate to deviate from it. Ever.
Even when the script changes.
What’s that old line again … never let the facts get in the way of a good story?
Sorry, Saquonites, but you’re doing that quite a bit this season.
Yo, we ain’t debating that he may be the most talented player in college football, that he may be the best prospect in the next NFL Draft, or that he may, indeed, win the Heisman … without a smidge of a doubt.
It’s just, c’mon with the overkill. The most recent slobberfest in regards to Barkley’s on-field performance, which occurred this past Saturday night in a 42-13 runaway against Michigan, is, well, as ridiculous as it is wide-ranging.
From hardcore fans to astute analysts to people who never watch a game, no one seems immune.
Barkley, as he usually does, performed well. He produced a highlight or two, even by accident in this one, courtesy of a one-man tip drill that turned an easy TD into an abbreviated circus show on the gridiron.
But he hardly dominated. In fact, save for a 69-yard scoring scamper on the team’s first possession, he was largely ineffective running the ball, totaling just 39 yards on his other 14 carries.
No, the reality is, his teammate, his quarterback, Trace McSorley dominated this game. Just like he, not Barkley, won the Iowa game with a remarkably clutch drive in the final minute and change, taking the Lions 80 yards to paydirt and accounting for every inch of real estate they covered.
Yo, got it. T-Mac ain’t the typical hero. He’s deemed undersized. His skill set isn’t high on pro personnel guys’ transferable watch list. He hasn’t had any tear-jerking features done on him. He’s seen as an overachiever, not someone as truly great.
In other words, he ain’t Saquon … and, as far as the storytellers out there feel, he ain’t a great story, either.
Hate to break it to the masses out there, though, but he was the best player on the field Saturday night before a record crowd at Beaver Stadium – based on what he actually did. Frankly, Barkley cost him about 50 to 60 passing yards by dropping one ball and then tripping over his shoelaces after catching another with tons of green in front of him.
Even with that, not to mention enduring some serious pressure from Michigan’s defense, McSorley racked up 282 yards and a TD passing … and another 76 and three rushing.
Not for nothing, but that game was McSorley’s show, not Barkley’s.
But don’t fret out there. The final script probably will match that narrative you prefer, the one with Barkley walking away with the trophy given to college football’s top player in December.
Even being outshined by a guy in the same backfield a game here or there doesn’t have to be the death knell to that coronation of greatness. Just means it might come about a little differently than you’d hope, or are willing to admit.