Penn State running back Saquon Barkley provided an injury update and said he will play when the Nittany Lions face the Wisconsin Badgers in Saturday night’s Big Ten Championship Game.
Penn State fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Running back Saquon Barkley said he will play in Saturday night’s Big Ten Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Barkley rushed 12 times for only 14 yards and scored a touchdown in last week’s 45-12 win over Michigan State before he suffered an ankle injury in the third quarter. He received treatment in the training room and didn’t return to the game.
The issue won’t keep him out of Penn State’s biggest game of the season. Speaking on the players’ media teleconference Monday, Barkley said he’ll be ready to go.
“I’ve been feeling fine. I’m feeling really good,” Barkley said. “I’ve been getting treatment and taking it day by day and trying to get ready for the game this weekend.”
Just a day earlier, coach James Franklin said that he wasn’t sure of Barkley’s status but felt his star back would be ready to face the Badgers.
“We’re confident he’s playing, but for me to tell you right now how he’s looking, I don’t know,” Franklin said Sunday. “We’re expecting him to be ready to play.”
Barkley finished second in the Big Ten in rushing yards with 1,219 while averaging 5.35 yards per carry and tying for the conference lead with 15 touchdowns. The sophomore rushed for at least 200 yards twice, doing so against Maryland on Oct. 8 and against Purdue on Oct. 29.
Michigan State bottled up Barkley before he was hurt, and Wisconsin will be trying to do the same. The Badgers lead the Big Ten and are third in the nation in rush defense, giving up an average of 100.75 yards per game on the ground.
Barkley leads the Big Ten in most rushing plays of at least 20 yards with 16, helping Penn State lead the conference with 80 plays of at least that distance, 11 more than any other team in the Big Ten. Wisconsin linebacker Vince Biegel knows the Nittany Lions’ explosiveness will provide the Badgers with a tough challenge.
“They’re a big-play team,” Biegel said. “(Barkley is) a very talented running back. They have a lot of weapons on their offense that we’ll have to account for.”