For all the criticism Sean Clifford has endured during his Penn State career, he’s always saved his best for the White Out. Let’s take a quick look back:
2019 vs. Michigan
14/25, 182 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT, 17 rush yards, 1 rush TD
2021 vs. Auburn
28/32, 280 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 16 rush yards
2022 vs. Minnesota
23/31, 295 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT
That’s a combined 74 percent completion rate for 757 yards, 10 total touchdowns to two interceptions in those three games.
However, it sure didn’t look like it would be another successful outing for Clifford after the first quarter. Penn State went three-and-out on its first two possessions, and while Clifford completed all four of his passes, there was nothing to be found beyond the chains.
The third possession promtly ended after Clifford overthrew a pass into double coverage, nearly leading to a pick-six. The defense held the Gophers to a field goal, and Clifford hardly missed the rest of the night. He found Theo Johnson on plays of 18 and 25 yards on the next drive to help Penn State tie the game 3-3. Then the barrage of touchdowns began. Clifford got the next drive moving with a 22-yard completion to Nicholas Singleton, and two plays later, found Tyler Warren wide open down the field, hitting him in stride for the first Penn State touchdown of the night. Clifford found the end zone the next drive, this time connecting with Theo Johnson down the middle to make the score 17-3.
Minnesota climbed back with a touchdown right before halftime, but fortunately Clifford remained hot. A 35-yard bomb to Parker Washington put Penn State up 24-10, and the rout continued on the next drive thanks to the savviness of the four-year starter. As the Gophers defense became discombobulated as they attempted to line up, Clifford noticed there was no one near Mitchell Tinsley. He quickly snapped the ball and hit Tinsley downfield for the easiest six points of the season.
A slow, and nearly disastrous start, transformed into another remarkable White Out performance. Is it too late to declare another White Out for Ohio State on Saturday?
LB Curtis Jacobs - Jacobs was everywhere on Saturday night, playing a key role in shutting down the Gophers dangerous ground attack. Jacobs finished with an eye-popping 14 tackles and two TFLs.
TE Theo Johnson - It’s been a quiet season for Johnson until Saturday night. Johnson was used to take advantage of some of the weaknesses in coverage for the Gophers defense, and ended up with a team-leading 75 yards on five catches, which included a 25-yard score.
S Ji’Ayir Brown - Brown is the most consistent performer on this year’s squad. He’s offered a standout performance every week, and showing no signs of slowing down. He finished the game with seven tackles, a pass breakup, and a momentum-shifting interception.
RB Nick Singleton - Singleton looked like he found himself again after a couple of rocky outings. His “gone in a flash” explosiveness helped him get to the end zone twice, allowing Penn State to pull away with the victory for good.
WR Parker Washington - Washington had his best game of the year, catching seven passes on eight targets for 75 yards and a 35-yard touchdown for the highlight reels.