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Era vs Era: 2020-2023 Offense

Little crystal ball action going on

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 02 Rose Bowl Game Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’re deep into the off-season, so I thought a series of posts to determine which era of the last 20 years was the mightiest might be fun. Here’s the premise:

  • We’ll compare four eras: 2005-09, 2010-14, 2015-19, 2020-23
  • In each era, we’ll compare two sides of the ball: offense and defense
  • We’ll compare things like stats, star players, and how the teams did each year
  • You, the reader will then decide what the best offense and defense was from each era
  • Once we have our “best of” teams for each era, we’ll do a 4-team playoff and you will again vote on the winner
  • Finally, the two winners of the semifinals will play again in the finals to determine the best era for Penn State football in the last 20 years

Get it? Got it? Good.

We’ve already taken a look at the Late Paterno Era, Transition Era, and Early Franklin Era offenses, and we’ll stay on the offensive side one last time for the 2020 to 2023 era, or what I like to call the Current Era. This era is highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ensuing rebound, and a little peek at what’s to come.

For now, see how the four offenses Penn State trotted out (or will trot out) from 2020 to 2023 compare in some key stats, star personnel, and afterward be sure to vote in the poll. The results of that poll will determine the final results of this era’s offense!


  • Yards per Game (YPG) - 430.3 (37th nationally)
  • Points per Game (PPG) - 29.8 (54th nationally)
  • All-Americans - 0
  • All-Big Tens - 5
  • Players of the Year - 0

2020 was, for lack of a better word, a disaster. The COVID-19 pandemic hit with full force, and the Big Ten first delayed, then canceled, then restarted the season. Every team in the conference had to deal with those issues, so I’ll make no apologies there, but it was a limiting factor. Add in that running back Journey Brown was forced to medically retire when it appeared he was poised for a potential All America-type season, and things just generally did not go well. Interestingly, the YPG was the highest it had been since the 2017 season, but the PPG just did not tag along. Turnovers and questionable-at-best quarterback play hamstrung the offense in the worst possible way. The team went 4-5 on the year after a historic 0-5 start, and opted out of a bowl game.


  • YPG - 376.4 (82nd nationally)
  • PPG - 24.8 (92nd nationally)
  • All-Americans - 1
  • All-Big Tens - 2
  • Players of the Year - 0

Despite Jahan Dotson showing out, the offense was still on the struggle bus in 2021. The team climbed all the way to #4 at one point in the season, but the running game was far from competent, new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich was attempting to install his offense, and Sean Clifford attempted to play hero ball one too many times. When he was injured against Iowa, the offense lost all of its spark, and the team tumbled. Still, the Lions managed a winning 7-6 record, though the year did end with a loss to Arkansas in the Outback Bowl.


  • YPG - 433.6 (34th nationally)
  • PPG - 35.8 (20th nationally)
  • All-Americans - 0
  • All-Big Tens - 4
  • Players of the Year - 0

In 2022 things started to shine for the Lions. Helped in part by the arrival of freshman running backs Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen, the offense stabilized. Clifford - in his 6th year of eligibility - held onto the reins for one last go, and the offensive output increased by 11 PPG. The offensive line became a strength for the first time in probably 10 years, and the Yurcich offense began to click. The Lions returned to glory with an 11-2 record on the year, a 35-21 Rose Bowl win over Utah, and a #7 ranking to end the season.


  • Returning Offensive Line Starters: 4
  • Returning Receiver Starters: 1
  • Returning RB Starters: 1
  • Returning QB Starters: 0

This is the only team that we’re going to look at a bit differently. We obviously don’t have stats on how well the 2023 offense will play, but we can perhaps glean some information on how well the 2022 offense did, and start to look at personnel changes. First, six starters return: on the OL, the only newcomer is Hunter Nourzad at center; for the pass-catchers, transfer Dante Cephas joins Trey Wallace and KeAndre Lambert-Smith, the only returning WR while Theo Johnson takes over as TE1; Drew Allar, heralded 5-star recruit, will line up under center. The talent appears to be similar to 2022, if not potentially better at WR and QB. The offensive line looks like it will be able to build off its strength of 2022, and running back features a 1a/1b setup with Singleton and Allen. Finally, this will be Year 3 under Mike Yurcich, so his offense shouldn’t be a question for anyone. We can’t say for sure how well the offense will play in 2023, but signs point to it being a strong contender in the Current Era.

The stats have been laid bare, you’ve fondly recalled some names and details of these teams, but now you have to vote! Pick which of the offenses from this era you think is the best. The winner will pair up with the best defense from the same era and take on the other eras in a winner-take-all playoff!


Which year had (or will have) the best offense in the Current Era?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    (0 votes)
  • 42%
    (119 votes)
  • 57%
    (161 votes)
281 votes total Vote Now