Even before the game started fans found themselves concerned on Twitter. Between the weather forecast, how the last two season’s games against Sparty went, and just general Mark Dantonio tomfoolery, many fans were lacking confidence entering Saturday’s contest.
I think it’s pretty clear Nittany Lion fans know the history. They are extremely nervous for today’s rainy conditions vs Michigan State.— Kyle Cannillo (@KyleCannillo) October 26, 2019
This edition of PSU vs MSU, like nearly all other games, might be down to the wire. pic.twitter.com/PfawCP0Fl2
Felton Davis is the honorary captain Saturday? In the rain? pic.twitter.com/43HGkvzhZT— Anthony Beck (@Anthony_Beck33) October 25, 2019
It’s gameday. Penn State vs Sparty. Land Grant Trophy. You know the drill. Start early. pic.twitter.com/DS4dYaCKs9— Mike V.P. (@MikePettigano) October 26, 2019
Penn state is in the middle of a brutal stretch of games— Matt (@MattIsCabin) October 26, 2019
At Iowa/Mich/At MSU/At Minnesota
But all along the game I’ve been most nervous about is today at MSU. I have no explanation but they always have our number. I hope I’m wrong, but I’ve had this game marked all year
100% chance of rain in East Lansing tomorrow. Already was nervous about this one and the weather plays right into MSU's style. It pains me to say it but Penn State is losing tomorrow https://t.co/S2qsdvFeSh— Ryan Hickey (@Ryan_Hickey3) October 25, 2019
I’m very nervous about Michigan State. For whatever reason they always give PSU a hard time.— Rant Bruschi (@RantBruschi101) October 26, 2019
While fans were worried about the game, they were excited about the beautiful, prestigious Land Grant Trophy.
FOUR HOURS UNTIL THE BATTLE FOR THE LAND-GRANT TROPHY— Land-Grant Trophy (@LandGrantTrophy) October 26, 2019
Need Noah Cain to run with the strength of 18 land grant institutions today— Matt Flip (@mattflip42) October 26, 2019
The highly coveted Land Grant Trophy is on the line today. #PSUvsMSU— ClevelandAF (@CLESportsAF) October 26, 2019
While many fans, yours truly included, were nervous entering the game the nerves proved to be not needed. On Penn State’s second drive of the game Sean Clifford threw a touchdown pass to Pat Freiermuth. The Nittany Lions took a 7-0 lead and never looked back.
Clifford’s second drive touchdown pass to Freiermuth was the start of a big game for both players. Clifford started the game 15-for-21, but finished 4-for-11. A lot of his late misses though were due to the weather conditions deteriorating in the second half. Cliff finished the day 18-for-32 with 4 touchdowns.
Really like PSU's Sean Clifford...hope he stays healthy!— Linda White (@lindawhite100) October 26, 2019
I’ll tell you what Sean Clifford doesn’t get enough hype. He is the real deal up at happy valley!— Gumby (@Ryan_Gumbita) October 26, 2019
Sean Clifford looking like a Heisman candidate— Ched (@Chedder_Booobby) October 26, 2019
Also, Sean Clifford looks amazing today. Shout out to that legend— Tom Wendell (@tomwendell) October 26, 2019
Two consecutive outstanding throws from Clifford there. Looked like he threw Freiermuth open on the touchdown pass— Caleb Wilfinger (@caleb_wilfinger) October 26, 2019
Another dime from Clifford to Freiermuth. Wow.— Dan (@TheSpanishGame) October 26, 2019
Penn State's offense doing a nice job plugging away down the field in this weather. Nine first downs in the first quarter, Sean Clifford not having much trouble throwing the ball, completing 7 of 10 passes with a dropped pass— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) October 26, 2019
Cliff also showed some toughness when he landed awkwardly on his left arm late in the second quarter and was slow to get up. When he got up he was clutching his left arm, but he would not miss a single play.
Sean Clifford:— Eddie (@emcilveen) October 26, 2019
Throwing in the rain ✅#PSUvsMSU
Dear God Sean Clifford don’t give me heart palpitations— Kayleen Dugal (@KSidisky) October 26, 2019
Sean Clifford is a dog— javier (@Javi3rOA7) October 26, 2019
As for Freiermuth, the sophomore tight end was held to just 5 receptions. However, 3 of the 5 went for touchdowns.
Ahhh FREEMOOSE WITH THE SCORE— D (@dkdmac) October 26, 2019
Freiermuth is the best TE in the Nation. Easy.— Matt Cols (@ColsKnowsBest) October 26, 2019
Free that Moose— Robert Laser (@rob_laser) October 26, 2019
After his big performance on Saturday, he has now tied Mike Gesicki for the most touchdown receptions by a tight end in Penn State history with 15. A reminder that Free Moose is only a sophomore.
While it was a quiet day for KJ Hamler, at least by his standards, he still lit up the Twitter world. This came after he made an adjustment in his route on a 2nd quarter pass, hauled in the throw and made a Spartan defender look silly on his way to the end zone.
KJ Hamler toughhhhh— Wall (@_WallSav10) October 26, 2019
KJ hamler gonna be a problem in the league— Jon Boi (@__Jonboi) October 26, 2019
KJ Hamler is good at football— David Cory (@dcory14) October 26, 2019
Hamler also had a return touchdown called back due to a penalty for the second consecutive week. Sorry, KJ, apparently there’s a rule where you’re not allowed to return kicks for a score.
While Hamler had a punt return called back due a running into the kicker penalty, it was great day for the Penn State special team units. Especially punter Blake Gillikin. Gillikin averaged 44.3 yards per punt, had a long of 58 and 5 of his punts were downed inside the 20.
Did you know? With that 61 yard punt @blakegillikin moved to 768 punting yards, just 241 yards behind Spartan legend Aaron Bates for most all-time punting yards in Land-Grant trophy games.— Land-Grant Trophy (@LandGrantTrophy) October 26, 2019
Blake Gillikin is going to be so important for Penn State today if the rain turns this into a slugfest. Great start for him on a 58-yarder.— David Eckert (@davideckert98) October 26, 2019
Blake Gillikin: MVP— Andy Troiani (@troyAHknee) October 26, 2019
best punter in the league @blakegillikin which is such an underrated facet of the game. big reason penn state has won games where they have been heavily outgained (iowa, michigan)— Danny McQuillen (@24_DQ) October 26, 2019
Gillikin is a weapon!— Tom Hurwitz (@tphurw) October 26, 2019
Blake Gillikin out there booming & punning those punts today— Tom Wendell (@tomwendell) October 26, 2019
Gillikin also got a lot of help from Dan Chisena and Drew Hartlaub who had excellent games as gunners. This included Chisena recovering a muffed punt inside the 10-yard line to set up Penn State’s 4th and final touchdown.
Chisena gives so much to the special teams group.— Gus Polinski (@dkviper) October 26, 2019
Okay, Mr. Chisena, you have TOTALLY REDEEMED YOURSELF— KJ GOING HAM(ler) (@happyhourvalley) October 26, 2019
Another big special teams play for Penn State -- Sowards muffs the punt catch and Dan Chisena recovers for the Lions at the Michigan State 6.— Joe Juliano (@JoeJulesinq) October 26, 2019
Put Chisena in the inaugural class of the Penn State Special Teams Hall of Fame™️— Greg (@craigzelanskay) October 26, 2019
The special teams also got a boost from defensive end Shaka Toney who blocked a field goal late in the first half. Toney also picked up a sack for the Nittany Lion defense.
"Get that nonsense outta here" -Shaka Toney, probably ♂️❌ pic.twitter.com/UhqM4CIiUm— Onward Land Grant (@OnwardState) October 26, 2019
Shaka Toney? More like BLOCKA Toney, am I right?— NittanyLionsDen.com (@NittanyLionsDen) October 26, 2019
Shaka Toney! Best name with a huge play!— Spooky Lee (@LCJS) October 26, 2019
Shaka Toney is that dude!— Tom Wendell (@tomwendell) October 26, 2019
Shaka Toney said YEET!!— taylor o’r (@o_ruairc) October 26, 2019
Shaka Toney is that dude!— Tom Wendell (@tomwendell) October 26, 2019
Speaking of defensive ends, it was also a big game for Jayson Oweh. The redshirt freshman had the best game of his collegiate career with a pair of strip sacks, the second of which landed in the hands of Ellis Brooks for one of four turnovers forced by the Nittany Lions.
Oweh sack's of Lewerke turns the ball loose, Penn State has it!— Land-Grant Trophy (@LandGrantTrophy) October 26, 2019
Jayson Oweh is becoming a problem...— mj_perk (@PerkinsPenguins) October 26, 2019
Jayson Oweh w 2 strip sacks. Beast off the edge. #WeAre— Salami Tommy (@Twitta_Tom) October 26, 2019
Jayson Oweh quietly having himself a game— Land Grant Trophy Week Chris (@cgodissart) October 26, 2019
Sticking with young defensive players, it was a coming out party for true freshman cornerback Marquis Wilson. Earlier this week James Franklin told the media that Wilson will now play out the rest of the season and burn his redshirt. Wilson responded by recording his first career interception and nearly hauling in his second.
Newly activated Marquis Wilson with the INT!— Penn State UNRIVALED (@UNRIVALED_PSU_) October 26, 2019
ATTA BOY MARQUIS WILSON!!!— Sports Fanatic (@sportsislife26) October 26, 2019
Marquis Wilson pick. That was also an extremely bad throw.— Mike Persak (@MikeDPersak) October 26, 2019
Marquis Wilson!— Andrew Hanselman (@CFBRoadWarrior) October 26, 2019
Marquis Wilson TRUE FRESHMAN!!!— RR. (@ronnstark) October 26, 2019
Helping to lead the way for yet another great defensive performance by the Nittany Lion defense was lienbacker Micah Parsons. Micah was all over the field for Brent Pry’s unit. He was quick to fill gaps, recorded multiple TFLs, made strong open field tackles, and nearly had his first career interception.
Micah Parsons is so good— Shane Mink (@shanemink) October 26, 2019
Micah Parsons is just literally a reincarnated Lavar Arrington— Blake Stover (@BStover22) October 26, 2019
Micah Parsons with a very quiet eight tackles in the first half for Penn State— Caleb Wilfinger (@caleb_wilfinger) October 26, 2019
Micah Parsons is really, really good.— Kim Harrison (@KimHarrisonPSU) October 26, 2019
Micah Parsons is having a great game.— MJ (@cvillegirl) October 26, 2019
Micah Parsons @PennStateFball showing off those wrestling skills getting the leverage on that big tight end.— A.Rife15 (@RiffRaf15) October 26, 2019
Penn State is 8-0. They’re going to be ranked in the top 5 in the country when the AP Poll comes out on Sunday. They’ll likely be in the top 5 of the first College Football Playoff rankings next Tuesday. Time to enjoy a well deserved bye week.