COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Penn State finished its regular season with a third straight blowout and the satisfying feeling that comes with playing exceptionally well before bowl bids are announced.
“We’re trending in the right direction right now,” coach James Franklin said after the 12th-ranked Nittany Lions breezed past Maryland 66-3 on Saturday.
Trace McSorley threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score to cap an outstanding regular season and carry Penn State (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten, No. 10 CFP) to its third straight victory. The streak began after successive losses at Ohio State and Michigan State by a combined four points.
Instead of lamenting what might have been, Franklin preferred to target what’s happening now, which is getting his team ready to play in a major bowl game coming off three wins in a row by a combined 157-53 score.
“Whenever you can play well at the end of the season, it’s a positive,” Franklin said. “I’m going to focus on the positive, not the woulda, shoulda, couldas.”
There were plenty of positives for the Nittany Lions in this game. Penn State led 31-0 at halftime, finished with 534 yards and didn’t give up a touchdown.
What more could a coach ask?
“I thought we played a complete game. Offense, defense, special teams,” Franklin said.
McSorley went 22 for 33 for 237 yards and ran seven times for 36 yards. The junior has thrown for 3,228 yards and 26 touchdowns this season and run for 589 yards and 11 TDs.
“Obviously, finishing strong these last few games is something we wanted to do,” McSorley said.
McSorley left with 5:46 left in the third quarter, after Saquon Barkley made it 45-0 with two third-quarter touchdown runs.
Backup quarterback Tommy Stevens completed the rout, running for 113 yards and three scores.
Penn State has won 10 games in successive seasons for the first time since 2008-09.
“I’m very pleased with the program overall, the progress that we’re making,” Franklin said. “There’s still a lot of work to do, but I’m happy where we’re at.”
The one bright spot for Maryland (4-8, 2-7) was the record-setting play of DJ Moore, who had eight catches for 100 yards. Moore set the school single-season mark of 80 receptions, breaking the record of 77 held by Geroy Simon in 1994, and became only the third Maryland receiver to have a 1,000-yard season.
He also threw a no-look pass on a botched flea-flicker.
On a day the school bid farewell to the 19 seniors on the squad, the Terrapins fell to 2-38-2 in this very lopsided series.
“Poor execution and it was a poorly coached team that went out there,” coach DJ Durkin said. “A season of adversity got to us.”
A series of injuries forced Durkin to use five different quarterbacks this season. After a 3-1 start, the Terps lost seven of eight.
“It just wore on us and we slowly deteriorated.”
McSorley set the tone early, running for 22 yards on a third-and-8 on the opening series to set up a touchdown run by Stevens, who lined up at running back.
Later in the first quarter, McSorley deftly kept his balance while scrambling over a fallen Maryland defender on a 5-yard touchdown run.
It became 28-0 when McSorley tossed a pair of touchdown passes to tight end Mike Gesicki in the span of 3 1/2 minutes.
By the time they were done, the Nittany Lions had surpassed 50 points for the fourth time this season, the most since 1994.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions deserve the chance to put their prolific offense on display on New Year’s Day. They are averaging more than 40 points a game and are coming off back-to-back 50-point games for the first time since 1997.
Maryland: The Terrapins saved their worst for last. Maryland sealed an 0-4 November with its most lopsided loss since a 63-0 bashing by Florida State in 2013.
Penn State senior safety Troy Apke missed the first half, his punishment for targeting last week in a 56-44 win over Nebraska. He saw limited action and finished with two tackles.
Barkley has scored 19 touchdowns this season, seven in the last three weeks, and has a school-record 51 TDs for his career.