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Penn State in the NFL

Penn State in the NFL: Penn Staters to Watch on Wildcard Weekend

Saquon Barkley is on of the Penn State players in the NFL playoffs
Photo by New York Giants: Saquon Barkley

Nineteen former Penn State players will be playing in the NFL Playoffs this weekend, and each of the five scheduled games will feature at least one Penn Stater. Here’s a breakdown of the Penn Staters that will be playing in each game.

SEAHAWKS AT 49ERS

Kickoff: 4:30 EST

TV: FOX

Penn Staters in the Game: K Robbie Gould, DT Kevin Givens (49ers)

Gould is at it again. The 40-year-old is in his 18th NFL season and will play in his 14th playoff game Saturday. Last year, Gould was a playoff hero for San Fran, kicking a game-winning 45-yard field goal to beat the Packers as time expired on a snowy Lambeau Field and send the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game. Givens is a much younger 49er and Penn Stater. The pride of Altoona, Pennsylvania, is in his fourth NFL season and making his third trip to the postseason. 

CHARGERS AT JAGUARES

Kickoff: 8:15 EST

TV: NBC

Penn Staters in the Game: DT Austin Johnson (Chargers)

Johnson is in his seventh season in the NFL. The defensive tackle was one of the best players of the early James Franklin years and was a second-round pick of the Tennessee Titans in 2016. This will be Johnson’s sixth playoff game and third trip to the postseason. This season, he’s started all eight games he played. 

SUNDAY 

DOLPHINS AT BILLS

Kickoff: 1 EST

TV: CBS

Penn Staters in the Game: TE Mike Gesicki, WR DeSean Hamilton (Dolphins), DT DaQuan JonesOL Ryan Bates (Bills)

Fans who miss the 2016 Big Ten champions will like this game. Gesicki, Hamilton and Bates all played on that team. Gesicki and Hamilton are now teammates with the Dolphins. Hamilton signed with the Dolphins practice squad in December. Bates, a lineman on that ’16 squad, now starts for Buffalo. Jones, an older Penn Stater who played his last college game in 2013, is a starter on Buffalo’s defensive line. 

GIANTS AT VIKINGS

Kickoff: 4:30 EST

TV: FOX

Penn Staters in the Game: RB Saquon BarkleyLB Cam Brown (Giants), WR Dan Chisena (Vikings)

Penn State fans watching this game will focus on one man. Barkley has had a bounce-back season following a pair of injury-plagued years. He finished the regular season 1,312 yards rushing (fourth in the NFL) and 10 touchdowns (9th). In the regular-season meeting between the Giants and Vikings, Barkley picked up 84 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown run, on 14 carries. The Giants lost that game, 27-24, on a last-second 61-yard kick by Greg Joseph.

RAVENS AT BENGALS

Kickoff: 8:15 EST

TV: NBC

Penn Staters in the Game: DE Odafe OwehP Jordan Stout (Ravens), TE Nick Bowers (Bengals)

Two of the younger Penn Staters in the NFL will be playing for Baltimore. Oweh is making his first trip to the playoffs in his second season in the league. Stout is the lone Penn State rookie in the postseason, and the fourth-round pick has been Baltimore’s starting punter all year. On the other side, Bowers is playing for the Bengals this postseason. Last postseason, he played against Cincinnati for the Los Vegas Raiders. His squad lost to the eventual AFC champions on Wildcard Saturday. 

MONDAY 

COWBOYS AT BUCCANEERS

Time: 8:15 EST

TV: ABC/ESPN

Penn Staters in the Game: LB Micah ParsonsOL Connor McGovern (Cowboys), WR Chris GodwinOL Donovan SmithDE Carl Nassib (Bucs)

This is the game with the most former Penn State players in the NFL, and all played for Franklin. At the head of the table, of course, is Parsons. 

Parsons is a frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year and just made his second first-team AP All-Pro squad in as many seasons in the league. 

The only other player to do that was a guy named Lawrence Taylor. On the other side, Godwin is back in the postseason after missing last year’s playoffs with an injury and is chasing a second Super Bowl ring. 

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