Penn State entered the Villanova game with a desire to win with big plays that exploit mismatches. Sean Clifford knew exactly who to turn to make this a realty throughout the afternoon, as Penn State gradually pulled away to make it to 4-0.
Parker Washington had the best game of his young Penn State career. While he had come just a few yards shy of the century mark on a handful of times, he smashed through that mark with 148 receiving yards with two scores on five catches. It was a performance that we can have full confidence will be repeated throughout his playing days in Happy Valley.
While Washington plays opposite of the best receiver in the nation, he’s quickly proving that he’s not far behind. You saw his development in real time last season, as a true freshman entering the season with no real team offseason preparation, and carve out a larger role for himself throughout the season. Now he’s become a force in year two.
Washington has been able to do it all - make fingertip grabs, go over the field to keep the chains moving, go vertical, and make explosive plays after the catch. He excelled at the last one over and over on Saturday.
With Penn State up 7-3, Washington helped the Nittany Lions on a 52-yard touchdown reception where his speed and vision were on full display to find the end zone untouched. It was a career-long reception for him - until the next drive, where he hauled in a 67-yard reception. It was nearly his second touchdown in as many drives if not for part of his foot just hitting the boundary at the six. He would later find the end zone again anyways, this time on a 23-yard snag that gave Sean Clifford his fourth touchdown pass of the game.
QB Sean Clifford - I received plenty of grief after naming Cliff the MVP of the Ball State game. I anticipate the same, but this time for listing him as the back-to-back-to-back MVP. Clifford had a masterpiece of a performance, with a near perfect outing outside of a couple passes off the mark. His lone interception was even on fantastic pass that just ended up in a defenders hands after KeAndre Lambert-Smith struggled to haul it in. Clifford had the first 400-yard game of his career by going 19-of-26, with four touchdowns on the day. The new Sean Clifford seems to be here to stay.
WR Jahan Dotson - Dotson is proving to be the best receiver in college football, and had yet another outstanding outing with seven catches for 117 yards and a touchdown - including a beautiful 52-yard touchdown on the opening snap thanks to Dotson’s pure speed and his silky smooth route running ability.