Penn State Football

Penn State Football Survives 17-7 Ugly Win Over Northwestern | Takeaways

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — That wasn’t how James Franklin and Penn State Football saw Saturday going.

Taking the field against Northwestern, amid the wind and relentless rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ian, the Nittany Lions turned the football over five times against Northwestern, got wildly inconsistent play from quarterback Sean Clifford, but managed to survive 17-7 inside Beaver Stadium.

Entering the bye week, Penn State Football sits 4-0, with a week to get right prior to a monumental top-10 clash against Michigan inside Michigan Stadium in two weeks.

Before looking too far ahead, here’s a look at five takeaways from Penn State Football’s win over Northwestern:

1 .Sean Clifford is still Sean Clifford

Maybe the expectations need to be lowered. Maybe Penn State Football fans can’t really get mad at this point, Clifford is what he is.

This was by far the worst performance of the season and has brought up the fears that Penn State fans have been waiting for all season.

Clifford finished 10 for 20 for 140 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT, amounting to a QBR of 37.9.

Although he should have had another interception in the first half throwing it right through the hands of a Wildcat defender.

It is now clear this offense has regressed since the Auburn game, and Clifford has looked worse each week. He was given a pass last week because it was an obvious letdown spot.

It is becoming apparent with the game last season against Illinois and this year against Northwestern, that Sean Clifford can’t play in the rain. In the 4th quarter there was a stadium wide booing and chants from the North endzone of “We Want Allar”. 

What can Nittany Lion fans really expect before Michigan, after all if Clifford hasn’t changed in 6 years why would he change in 2 weeks.

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2. The Penn State Football defense is elite

Despite the offensive inconsistencies, this defense has looked better and better as the season progresses.

The Lions forced three turnovers, and always seemed to make opportune stops. Despite the offense turning the ball over five separate times, the defense only allowed a total of eight yards in the resulting possessions.

Many of those turnovers were around midfield or in Penn State territory, making the statistic even more impressive. The defense gave up a weird broken play TD in the 3rd quarter, but outside of that held the Wildcats to 31 yards rushing and 241 yards total. The key goal line stands in the 4th quarter on 4th and goal from the 1-yard line helped ice the game for the Nittany Lions.

While the offense is looking more inconsistent each week, this defense is proving to be able to keep this team in games.

3. Ball Security a massive Issue

Penn State fans have been beyond excited about this backfield the last few weeks.

This game quelled expectations somewhat as all 3 running backs fumbled at different parts of the game. Singleton had 2, Lee 1, and Allen 1. It was apparent that Allen was kept out of the game in the 1st half for some reason but still had a bad fumble in the second half.

Outside of the turnovers the running backs had success moving the football. Singleton had 21 carries for 87 yards, Allen 21 for 86 and Lee 10 for 40.

The young backs struggled in the torrential downpour that was occurring for much of the game, but that isn’t too surprising.

Fans often expect true freshmen to not make mistakes and sometimes their inexperience is going to show.

Meanwhile, Franklin appeared livid on the sidelines in the 2nd half as the mistakes continued and expect ball security to be an emphasis during the 2-week preparation for Michigan.

4. Barney Amor is team MVP

This feels like such a repetition week to week, but he just continues to perform.

This week, Amor downed 4 punts inside the 20-yard line with 3 of those inside the 8. The Nittany Lion’s ability to flip the field has been crucial this season. Amor consistently has set up the defense with great field position.

Many of his punts don’t even need to be downed as he has perfected the art of backspin. Expect his ability to be crucial for the tough upcoming 3 game stretch.

5. Poor Environment

The atmosphere for yesterday’s game was by far the worst of the young season.

It was expected that the attendance would be lower with a rainy and chilly day in Happy Valley. However, there were visibly open seats on both sidelines even when the crowd was in peak attendance.

The official attendance is listed at 105,524. There is a legitimate claim that only 70,000 people found their way into Beaver Stadium.

The second-half looked like a blue white game and it was a struggle to get any sort of noise for the goal line stand at the end of the game.

There were remarks from many fans both during and after the game that this was one of the worst environments they had experienced in a long time. Many stated that even during the dark years of the early 2000s and past mediocre seasons the crowds were sticking around despite awful weather.

This might not be much in the grand scheme of this team, but it is just something to evaluate going forward, win or lose.

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