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‘Hard to Beat’: Ole Miss HC Lane Kiffin Complimentary of Penn State QB Drew Allar, Defense

Photo by Ole Miss Athletics

Ole Miss HC Lane Kiffin knows it will take a lot of work to beat Penn State in the Peach Bowl Saturday.

Under James Franklin, PSU has become a fixture in the top 10 come bowl season, and this year is no exception.

The team finished the regular season 10-2 with its only losses coming to No. 1 Michigan, who’s in the College Football Playoff, and No. 7 Ohio State, who came one big play against Michigan away from getting there.

When Penn State wasn’t playing college football’s elite, it was dominant for the most part, winning nine of its 10 games by double digits. The quarterback played a big part in that. Drew Allar ended his first regular season as a college starting quarterback with 23 touchdowns and just one interception, also throwing for 2,336 yards and competing 61.1 percent of his passes.

When talking with reporters via Zoom Tuesday, four days before the Peach Bowl, he described Allar as “hard to beat.”

“Takes care of the ball really well,” Kiffin said. “Really good mixture of being able to throw the ball and then get out of trouble and make a play and make a first down with his feet.

“These guys are always really hard, what I call students of the game, when you see them play. They rarely make any mistakes. When you couple that with the best defense in the country, that’s a really good combination. That’s why these guys have won so many games.”

Did Kiffin say Penn State has the  “best defense in the country?”

Yes, he did, and there’s certainly statistical evidence to back him up.

Penn State ended the regular season with the No. 1 total defense in the country.

Although the defense lost its coordinator, Manny Diaz, who became Duke’s head coach earlier this month, the unit is still a force, and with the exception of DE Chop Robinson and potentially CB Johnny Dixon, the team will be at full strength.

For Kiffin, a key to Penn State’s defensive success is its ability to play with energy regardless of the environment.

“I think they play really hard. Obviously they have great players, elite talent, great coaching. But they play really, really hard and really physical at home and on the road. Sometimes you see these teams with electric home atmospheres and advantages, like these guys have, like some of the SEC teams, but then they won’t play quite as hard defensively on the road. These guys are not like that. These guys bring an old school mentality with new school elite talent.”

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