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3 Positives and 3 Negatives From Penn State’s win Over Northwestern

Here are some positives and negatives from Penn State’s ugly, rain-soaked 17-7 win over Northwestern at Beaver Stadium Saturday, Oct. 1.

THE POSITIVES

No. 1: Nick and the Fatman 

Penn State’s running game had its problems, which we’ll discuss later. 

But, man, Nick Singleton and Kaytron “Fatman” Allen can run the football. 

Allen didn’t play in the first half for unspecified reasons but ran the ball on four of Penn State’s first five plays in the second half and 10 of its first 14. 

Allen ended the game with 86 yards on 21 carries, good for a 4.1 yards per carry average. 

Singleton only got four of his 21 carries in the second half and finished with 87 yards and a touchdown for the same 4.1 YPC.

To put it in perspective, if Singleton and Allen played even three full quarters, both probably would have eclipsed 100 yards. That’s something that should excite Penn State fans.

 No. 2: Defensive Dominance

Not much needs to be said here. 

Coordinator Manny Diaz’s unit came up with three turnovers and now has 10 takeaways in its last three games after coming away with only one in its first two.

No matter who the opponent is, if a defense gives up seven points in a game, it’s doing something right. 

No. 3: Pinegar Bounces Back

Penn State probably still beats Northwestern if Jake Pinegar misses his lone field goal attempt. 

But it would have made things more uneasy. 

Over Penn State’s first two home games, Pinegar missed two field goals, an extra point and had another extra point blocked. 

So, it was vital for him to make his 38-yard attempt early in the fourth quarter with Penn State up by just seven. 

He made it, and Penn State went up by two scores.

Regardless of whether it would have impacted the outcome, kicks like that can be massive for a guy’s confidence. 

At the same time, Pinegar nailed a 48-yarder at Auburn and then ended up on our “negatives” list after the following week’s game against Central Michigan.

The fifth-year senior still needs to show consistency, but Saturday was a positive step.

THE NEGATIVES

No. 1: Fumbles

Many people won’t pay as much attention to how well Singleton and Allen played overall because they also combined to lose three fumbles. 

Singleton fumbled twice in the first half, Keyvone Lee lost one on Penn State’s first drive of the second half and Allen joined the parade in the fourth quarter.

Penn State’s defense was awesome, and that’s why the fumbles didn’t matter much.

But, yeah, losing four fumbles is never good.

 No. 2: Sean Clifford

10-for-20, 140 yards, just one touchdown and a horrendous interception.

Sean Clifford played his worst game of the season, and since starting 8-8 against Central Michigan, the sixth-year senior is 24-46 after going 33-46 in his previous two games.

Overall, Clifford is completing 62% of his passes through five games– which would be the highest percentage of his career if it stands– and has thrown nine touchdown passes to two interceptions.

Based on that, calls for freshman sensation Drew Allar to replace Clifford are overreactions.

But what isn’t an overreaction is that Clifford has to be better than he was Saturday. 

No. 3: Northwestern is Awful

…Yet, it hung with Penn State for four quarters. 

Northwestern might be the worst team in the Big Ten; if not, it’s one of the worst. 

Regardless of the weather- rain, snow, sleet, hail, a temperature of a million degrees, whatever- Penn State should have beat Northwestern by more than 10 at Beaver Stadium.

On the one hand, it’s good for Penn State that this stinker happened ahead of the bye week, giving the team more time to clean up what it needs to. 

On the other, if Penn State can’t clean it up, what will happen when it faces two College Football Playoff contenders in Michigan and Ohio State, with a good Minnesota team sandwiched in between, in its first three games coming out of the bye? 

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