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Giger’s Game Breakdown: Look for Clifford to start at QB, and for Lions to lose yet again

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Sean Clifford

OFFENSE

PSU: The guess here is that Sean Clifford will start at QB, for one simple reason. Penn State could beat Michigan with Clifford. It cannot beat Michigan with Will Levis.

Clifford has the ability to make big plays with his arm or his legs. Levis is a good running QB, but it was easy to see last week against Iowa that either he can’t do certain things with his arm, or the coaches don’t have enough confidence in him to let him do certain things with his arm. Now clearly, Clifford can lose the game with turnovers. We’ve seen that several times this season. If he can’t protect the ball, then he will get benched again. But if he can protect the ball and make some plays down the field, the Lions could cash in against a subpar Michigan defense.

RB Devyn Ford is questionable after missing most of last week’s game with an injury. If he can’t go, it’ll be up to true freshmen Keyvone Lee and Caziah Holmes to carry the load. Can they do that effectively? They didn’t last week against Iowa, but the Wolverines’ defense has some holes.

Michigan: It looked like the Wolverines found something last week in backup QB Cade McNamara, who led the team back from a 17-0 deficit for a dramatic three-OT victory at Rutgers. McNamara took over for ineffective Joe Milton and completed 27-of-36 for 260 yards and four TDs. Jim Harbaugh didn’t name a starting QB this week, but let’s be clear: There is no way Harbaugh can go back to Milton after the way McNamara rallied the team.

RB Hassan Haskins had 111 yards rushing last week and 274 for season, and Zach Charbonnet also will get some touches. Coordinator Josh Gattis, PSU’s former WR coach, has been under fire for the offense’s poor performance. He’s very familiar with what James Franklin and defensive coordinator Brent Pry like to do, so he should have a good game plan in this one.

Advantage: Michigan

DEFENSE

PSU: The tackling has been awful all season.

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Written By

Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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