ALTOONA, Pa. — Each week I plan on tackling some of the top storylines from the previous game in my weekly Three-and-Out feature. Some good topics, but this week’s mostly pretty bad.
It was supposed to be a statement game for Penn State with Sean Clifford and company going into the Big House and showing the Nittany Lions for real. Instead, they left with far more questions than answers.
Penn State’s embarrassing performance provides quite the fodder and water cooler talk as the Nittany Lions were run over like a runaway freight train which brings us to our first topic.
Penn State’s rush defense gets gashed
Not one, but two Michigan Wolverines ran roughshod through and over the Penn State defense Saturday. Donovan Edwards and Blake Corum ran for 173 and 168 yards respectively both finding the end zone twice. Not only did they straight up gash the defense, they hit home runs on back to back plays with Edwards dashing for a 67-yard touchdown and Corum running for a 61-yard touchdown on the next Wolverines play.
It’s not the typical play that’s come to be expected, but coupled with poor tackling and missed assignments, it should be no surprise why Saturday’s ground game by Michigan was the highest amount of yards given up by the Nittany Lions in James Franklin’s tenure.
And to think prior to playing the Wolverines this was the same defense that was giving up just under 100 yards per game. Good news is it can’t get much worse … for now at least.
Big game James
Name a bigger rivalry than Franklin and beating a top-10 team … you couldn’t find one could you?
Not only is Franklin 7-18 against the division foes Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State he’s now 0-10 against teams in the top-10 since 2016.
Simply put, he’s not getting the job done. Of course, it’s not his fault. He’s not the one out there having to execute plays, though he is the one who’s trotted Sean Clifford out there for four years with seemingly no end in sight.
Eventually Franklin is going to have to start winning big games or Penn State will just need to settle for a New Year’s Six bowl game as their ceiling rather than competing for the Big Ten title or College Football Playoff every year.
The more these losses stack up … the warmer that seat is going to get.
The defense scored as many touchdowns as the offense
Some good news out of Ann Arbor this weekend was Penn State at least scored points.
However, they got an equal amount of touchdowns from both the offense and defense. The Nittany Lions found the end zone offensively with a Kaytron Allen one-yard run in the second which followed Curtis Jacobs’ 47-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Jacobs’ touchdown helped Penn State maintain a 14-13 advantage heading into the half, but it got ugly even before the teams got to their respective locker rooms. This skirmish and the subsequent comment from Franklin show the final stages of the Nittany Lions being in the game.
After that, it was all Michigan and all Michigan in a bad way.
Okay, so I’m not always negative! One bright spot for Penn State:
Clifford eclipsed 10,000 total yards
Clifford joined former teammate Trace McSorley as they only Nittany Lions to eclipse the 10,000 total yards plateau.
Should Clifford remain healthy this year, he should eclipse 10,000 yards through the air and 1,000 yards for his career on the ground.
Franklin hot seat meter: Pre-heating the oven