Penn State and Sean Clifford are looking to keep their playoff hopes alive this week against Indiana. After a crushing defeat a week ago at Minnesota, the Nittany Lions are looking to get back on track this week at home. The Golden Gophers handed Penn State its first loss of the season a week ago. They did so in a manner that left Nittany Lion fans in shock. This week there have been a lot of speculations about the season and the coaching staff from disgruntled fans.
Yes, the loss was upsetting. It hurt, all first losses do. Still, Penn State fans need to remember that this team is less than 10 years removed from sanctions brought down by the NCAA that should have set the program back a long time. Even with the lack of scholarships, lack of depth, and lack of postseason for many years, Penn State never had a losing season. This is what Nittany Lion fans need to remember. There were times growing up that I dreamed of one loss at this point in the season. I think it is time we all remember those seasons and how fortunate we are to be able to watch such talented college football players every Saturday.
Time for Penn State and Sean Clifford to Bounce Back
This is not the first time Penn State football has lost a game and it undoubtedly won’t be the last. Clifford needs to get his team back on track this week against Indiana. Everyone says a team controls their own future and this is especially true for Penn State. It all starts with a win at home this weekend. Defensive tackle Antonio Shelton will be back on the field this week. Hopefully, runningback Noah Cain will be too. Earlier this week head coach James Franklin stated that Cain was 90% last week for the Minnesota game. If all went well at practice this week the freshman will likely be back vs. Indiana.
Three Things to Watch for Against Indiana
1. Clifford Performing Well at Home
Clifford had arguably the worst game of his Penn State career against Minnesota last week. Three interceptions on the stat sheet doesn’t bode well for the redshirt sophomore. The thing is, the stat sheet doesn’t always tell the entire truth. One interception was due to a poor decision. The second and third, the receivers didn’t really have a chance. Even with Clifford having an “off” day, the signal-caller nearly brought Penn State back to win at the end. Look for Clifford to have a much better day on Saturday at home.
2. The Penn State Defense vs. Purdue’s Quarterback
Purdue’s starting freshman quarterback, Michael Penix Jr., will not be playing this weekend due to an injury suffered against Northwestern. This means that Peyton Ramsey will be making the start. Ramsey is no stranger to the Nittany Lion defense. Against Penn State in 2017, Ramsey ended the game with a 47% pass completion rate and one touchdown and one interception. Then, in 2018, he faired a little better through the air with a 72% pass completion rate, but still one touchdown and one interception. The real stat line from last year’s game though? Ramsey was held to negative rush yards for the only time in 2018. Look for the Nittany Lion defense that still ranks as one of the top defenses in the country to keep Ramsey in check on Saturday.
3. Hoosier Star Safety Against Penn State Receivers
Indiana has a star safety in Marcelino Ball. Ball is one of the best safeties in the Big Ten. He has 34 total tackles through eight games this season. Further, he has one sack and one-and-a-half tackles for loss. It is not lost on anyone that Clifford has two main targets, KJ Hamler and Pat Freiermuth. It will be Ball’s job to shut those channels down, making Clifford utilize other receivers on Saturday. This could prove to be difficult. Clifford tried a week ago and it didn’t fare overly well for the redshirt sophomore. It will be an intriguing matchup to watch on Saturday.
Many fans are asking the same question; what now? What does a team that had lofty goals of a National Championship do now? Well, they win. They win this week against Indiana. That is all that the Nittany Lions can control right now. A win this week against a Big Ten opponent. After that, we shall see.