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Saquon Barkley talks Heisman Trophy invitation, and the spotlight that comes with it

Penn State's Heisman Trophy candidate knows other players have better statistics, but hopes to get invited as a finalist to the award presentation.

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, right, rushes past Maryland linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. in the first half of an NCAA college football game in College Park, Md., Saturday.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, right, rushes past Maryland linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. in the first half of an NCAA college football game in College Park, Md., Saturday.Read morePATRICK SEMANSKY / AP

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Saquon Barkley has been in the spotlight all season. Or maybe it has been the entire year of 2017 if you go back to that electrifying 79-yard touchdown run in the Jan. 2 Rose Bowl against Southern California that kicked off his Heisman Trophy candidacy.

Penn State's regular season ended Saturday with Barkley rushing for 77 yards and two touchdowns in its 66-3 crushing of Maryland. He knows other players have better numbers than his 1,134 yards rushing, although his average of 179.5 all-purpose yards is among the national leaders.

As for all the attention he has received, he said, "That's football. That's life."

"We had success as a team," he said after the game. "At one point, I guess you probably could say I was the [Heisman] front-runner. Now you can make the argument that other people are the front-runners for that award.

"People are going to be up and down about you. One day, you're the greatest thing to walk this earth. The next day, people don't even think you're a legit back. That comes with the game of football."

Barkley said it would be special if he could gain an invitation to New York as a Heisman finalist when the award is presented on Dec. 9.

"I'd be representing Penn State, my family and myself," he said. "When you're a little kid and you watch college football, you dream about being in a situation like that. It would be special to get invited. If I didn't get invited, it wouldn't hurt my feelings. I wouldn't get down or be sad about it."

Record for an Imhotep grad

Maryland junior D.J. Moore, who starred at Imhotep Charter High School, established a program single-season record for most receptions, catching eight against Penn State to finish with 80 this year. With 1,037 receiving yards, he became the third player in team history to reach that plateau.

The amazing stat for Moore is that he caught passes from four Maryland quarterbacks during a season when injuries struck the position.

"I just try to be consistent for whatever quarterback is in there and still play my game, no matter who is throwing me the ball," Moore said. "That's probably the most unpredictable thing that can happen to a team, having so many quarterbacks go down in one year.

"At the end of the day, the playmakers just have to make plays, and that's what we've been trying to do throughout the year."

Pancoast’s big moment

Fifth-year senior Tom Pancoast, a backup tight end who played at Unionville High School, scored his first career touchdown in the third quarter with a diving catch of a 4-yard pass from Tommy Stevens.

No one was happier for Pancoast than starting tight end Mike Gesicki.

"I was really happy for Tom, who has done a great job in his career kind of just waiting for his time and his moment to go in and make some plays," Gesicki said. "He was able to do that tonight, so I was happy for him."

Back in the lineup

The Nittany Lions saw two players with Philadelphia ties — offensive tackle Ryan Bates (Archbishop Wood) and defensive end Ryan Buchholz (Great Valley) — return to the field after both suffered injuries four weeks ago against Ohio State.

Bates, who had played left tackle before being sidelined, was in at right tackle in a backup role in the second half. Buchholz played some snaps at end and at tackle.

The nature of both injuries was not disclosed by Penn State.

McSorley milestones

Trace McSorley passed for 237 yards and finished the day with 3,228 on the season, making him the first quarterback in Penn State history to compile more than one 3,000-yard season through the air.

McSorley also rushed for his 11th touchdown of the season, tying him with Michael Robinson for the program record for most rushing TDs by a quarterback. His two TD passes gave him 26 for the season.

He is the second player in Big Ten history to pass for at least 25 touchdowns and rush for at least 10 in the same season. Ohio State's J.T. Barrett did it in 2014.