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Three Takeaways From Penn State’s Soul-Crushing Loss to Minnesota


Penn State v Minnesota Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

1) This suuuuuuckkkssss

I don’t know about y’all, but to me this loss hurt as much as any since Iowa in 2008. Ohio State hurt in 2017 and 2018, but you can rationalize losing to extremely talented OSU teams. Minnesota is undoubtedly good, but Penn State has no business losing to that team. At 8-0 and fourth in the initial CFP poll, it was all there in front of the Nittany Lions and they puked all over themselves in the first half in Minneapolis.

The coaching was poor. The execution was poor. The refereeing was poor. But Penn State just didn’t do nearly enough to get it done and it sucks. In the grand scheme of things, the Nittany Lions will very likely go 10-2 and have a more than likely spot in the New Year’s 6 bowl, but it’s hard to see this as anything other than an opportunity missed. And you don’t know how many opportunities you’re going to get.

2) This just can’t happen

Look, there’s no shame in losing to a good football team. And the Golden Gophers are a good football team. But if you want to get where James Franklin and co. want to go, you can’t have this happen. The Nittany Lions came off a bye week with plenty of prep and the more talented roster and just didn’t get it done.

That lies with Franklin for baffling clock management and game management at the end of the first half. It lies with Brent Pry for his defense looking lost the entire first half. It lies with Ricky Rahne for decided to run the ball three times from the 10 and then throw a fade to a 5-foot-9 wide receiver. It lies with Sean Clifford for turning the ball over three times. It lies with the defensive backs for just deciding not to show. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but if you want to go from good to great, something needs to change and it appears it hasn’t 12 months on from Franklin’s “good to great” speech.

3) Sean Clifford was due for this sort of game

Clifford has been so, so good all year. Unsustainably good, it would seem. The first-year starter came into today’s game with just three interceptions on the season. That number doubled today. Sure, you can say Justin Shorter needs to make a play on the ball on the first one. The second one involved pass interference that was clear as day on KJ Hamler, and the third saw Jahan Doton get tugged. But all three were forced throws down the field and all three were punished. Clifford is an above average college quarterback, but he was due for a setback and it came at the least opportune time imaginable.