No. 11 Penn State closed its regular season with a 35-16 win over Michigan State Saturday and took back the Land Grant Trophy. The game got dicey in the third and the middle of the fourth quarter, but Penn State pulled away and went “1-0’ this week. Here are my takeaways from the game
SEAN CLIFFORD HAD HIS PROPER SENDOFF
I know fans are tired of Clifford, but they have no reason to complain about Saturday’s performance.
He went 19-for-24 for 202 yards and four touchdowns. That’s right; four touchdowns and five incompletions. When Michigan State scored back-to-back touchdowns to cut the deficit to five, Clifford led Penn State on an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Nick Singleton. Penn State in years past would have blown the lead, but not this year’s team, and it for the win over Michigan State Saturday. The truth is Penn State has had success this year mainly because of Clifford’s steady influence under center.
PENN STATE HAS THE BEST TIGHT-END GROUP IN THE COUNTRY
Every week it seems like a different tight end steps up and plays great football. At the beginning of the season, there was a lot of praise for Brenton Strange. Later on, Tyler Warren had big-time moments. Saturday, it was Theo Johnson that shined. He caught three passes for 62 yards and two touchdowns Saturday. Penn State’s group is not all about just being in line tight ends. It lines up in the diamond formation, the T Formation and as H-Backs. They use them like pieces on a chess board, and that makes Penn State’s offense productive.
ABDUL CARTER WILL WIN THE BUTKUS AWARD IN THE NEXT TWO YEARS
Carter again made an impact and wrecked the Michigan State offense. He had seven tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks. Carter looks every bit like Micah Parsons and LaVar Arrington before him. Carter is most likely to be a freshman All-American, and he only played part-time, basically in only eleven games. He has an explosive first step, can rush the passer, is excellent against the run and is improving his pass coverage. That’s why I believe he will be the best linebacker in college football as soon as next year.
OFFENSIVE LINE DEPTH IS GOOD
Drew Shelton and JB Nelson have stepped in the past few games and held their own. This Saturday. They probably have their most troublesome game of the season because Michigan State’s strength on defense is its defensive tackles. Simeon Barrow recorded a sack, and Maverick Hansen recorded seven tackles. Penn State still held its own on offense, and when it needed to get a big run and keep the pocket clean for Clifford, it delivered. This will bode well for them in the bowl game and beyond.
ALL IN ALL
Penn State finished 10-2 and beat the teams it was supposed to beat. Penn State has a better resume than some think, and the win at Purdue to begin the season looks even better because Purdue won the Big Ten West. We will have to see where the chips fall after championship Saturday to see what bowl game Penn State will participate in and who its opponent will be. But for now, Penn State will enjoy a Top 10 ranking to end the season.