Penn St Practice Football

Penn State coach James Franklin watches as quarterback Trace McSorley looks downfield during college football practice Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, in State College, Pa.


Coach: James Franklin (25-15 entering fourth season at Penn State, 49-30 entering seventh year overall)

2016 record: 11-3, 8-1 Big Ten (tied for first, East)

Offensive starters returning (9): RB Saquon Barkley, OL Ryan Bates, WR Saeed Blacknail, TE Mike Gesicki, WR DaeSean Hamilton, OL Brendan Mahon, OL Connor McGovern, QB Trace McSorley, OL Andrew Nelson

Defensive starters returning (7): S Marcus Allen, LB Jason Cabinda, CB John Reid, DT Parker Cothren, LB Manny Bowen, CB Grant Haley, DT Curtis Cothren

Specialists returning (3): K Tyler Davis, P Blake Gillikin, KO Joe Julius

Returning statistical leaders: Rushing, Saquon Barkley 272-1,496; Passing, Trace McSorley 224-387-8-3,614-29; Receiving, Mike Gesicki 48-679; Tackles, Marcus Allen 110; Interceptions, Brandon Smith 2.

Starring roles

Marcus Allen: The senior free safety led the Nittany Lions with 110 stops a year ago and joins linebacker Jason Cabinda and his average of nine tackles per game on a defense which returns seven starters. Regarded among Penn State’s best in slowing the run, Allen finished with six tackles for a loss last season and broke up three passes.

Saquon Barkley: Shared Big Ten offensive player of the year honors last season as a sophomore while rushing for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. The 5-11, 228-pound junior who has rushed for 2,572 yards over the past two seasons for Penn State will be working behind an offensive line which returns four starters

Trace McSorley: Orchestrated an offense which improved its output from 23.2 points to 37.6 points per game a year ago. McSorley threw for a Penn State-record 3,614 yards in his first season as the Nittany Lions’ starter, completing 57.9 percent of his passes. Following the graduation of Chris Godwin, who caught 59 balls in 2016, the Nittany Lions are looking for receivers to complement the pass-catching skills of tight end Mike Gesicki, a 48-pass receiver last season.

On the rise

Tyler Davis: Once a soccer player at Bradley, the senior developed into one of the most consistent kickers in the Big Ten last season. The St. Charles, Illinois native hit all 62 of his PAT attempts and connected on 22-of-24 field goal attempts last season with a long of 40 yards.


Michal Menet: Is expected to fill the only starting vacancy on the Penn State offensive line. A redshirt freshman who was rated as the best guard prospect in the nation coming out of high school is expected to emerge as the Nittany Lions’ starter at right guard.

The big number


Number of 100-yard rushing performances junior running back Saquon Barkley has had in his first two seasons with the Nittany Lions, five as a freshman and five last fall as a sophomore

Coach speak

“We think we have a lot of the pieces of the puzzle in place. We only had one senior on offense last year and only two seniors on defense, so we were one of the youngest teams in college football. The Big Ten Championship Game experience was important. The Rose Bowl, playing on that type of a stage, was important for us from a growth perspective. It didn’t end the way we wanted it to end, but I think it ended in a way where our guys are wanting more.’’ – James Franklin

2017 schedule

Sept. 2 – Akron

Sept. 9 – Pittsburgh

Sept. 16 – Georgia State

Sept. 23 – at Iowa

Sept. 30 – Indiana*

Oct. 7 – at Northwestern

Oct. 21 – Michigan*

Oct. 28 – at Ohio State*

Nov. 4 – at Michigan State*

Nov. 11 – Rutgers*

Nov. 18 – Nebraska

Nov. 25 – at Maryland*

* -- East Division opponent


Where Penn State ranked in the Big Ten in 2016:

Scoring offense: 37.6 (Third)

Rushing offense: 171.9 (Seventh)

Passing offense: 260.7 (Third)

Total offense: 432.6 (Second)

Scoring defense: 25.4 (Eighth)

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Rushing defense: 151.3 (Eighth)

Passing defense: 216.6 (11th)

Total defense: 367.9 (Eighth)


The Nittany Liones’ record over the last five years:

2012: 8-4

2013: 7-5

2014: 7-6

2015: 7-6

2016: 11-3

Eye on Iowa

All-time series

Penn State 14, Iowa 12

Record in the last five games against the Hawkeyes:

2009: Iowa 21, Penn State 10

2010: Iowa 24, Penn State 3

2011: Penn State 13, Iowa 3

2012: Penn State 38, Iowa 14

2016: Penn State 41, iowa 14