Penn State confirmed Wednesday that wide receiver Saeed Blacknall and linebacker Manny Bowen have been suspended for Monday’s Rose Bowl against USC due to a violation of team rules.
A page has been ripped out of Penn State’s feel-good story.
The Nittany Lions confirmed Wednesday that wide receiver Saeed Blacknall and linebacker Manny Bowen have been suspended for Monday’s Rose Bowl against No. 9 USC due to an unspecified violation of team rules. Both players traveled with the team to California.
The loss of two starters certainly doesn’t bode well for Penn State, which is 11-2 after winning its last nine games to reach its first Rose Bowl since 2008. The Nittany Lions also finished No. 5 in the final College Football Playoff rankings.
Their winning streak is still alive thanks in large part to Blacknall. The junior wideout caught six passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-31 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. Blacknall entered that contest with only nine catches in six games after missing six because of an undisclosed injury.
Blacknall’s absence gives the quarterback Trace McSorley one less weapon to go up against a USC secondary that includes Adoree’ Jackson, who is the Pac-12’s defensive player of the year and Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation’s top defensive back.
The loss of Bowen won’t help Penn State’s chances of slowing down quarterback Sam Darnold and the rest of the Trojans, who have won eight straight games. Bowen played in all 13 games, finishing with 68 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and two sacks for a Nittany Lions defense that has allowed 300 yards passing only once this season.