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Breaking Down Post-Michigan State Reactions For Penn State Football

Penn State football stayed hot on Senior Day by exploding in the second half to take down Michigan State 39-24.

The Nittany Lions are now 3-5 and face one final date with Illinois at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 19 in Beaver Stadium. As the season begins to wrap up, there are plenty of hot takes surrounding seniors’ eligibility, a possible bowl game, and prospects for the 2021 season.

Naturally, we decided to break down the most interesting of takes entering the Big Ten’s “Champions Week.”

‘It May Not Be Worth It For Penn State To Play A Bowl Game’

Sam Brungo: Why wouldn’t Penn State want to play in a bowl game? Finishing the season .500 with a five-game win streak would show the nation that Penn State is far from washed and will show the players that the Nittany Lions are here to win. It would be good for morale and recruiting.

Gabe Angieri: I don’t think it’s fair for any of us to say whether it’s worth it in play in a potential bowl game. While the Nittany Lions are riding a hot streak right now, we have no idea what they’re going through on a personal and mental level. If James Franklin and his team decide that it’s not worth it, there is really no reason to question it. This is a team decision that I’m sure Franklin and his squad will talk about.

Ryan Parsons: I don’t think this is necessarily true, but it’s really up to the players and coaches. Regardless of how fans feel, they’re not the ones putting themselves at risk by playing or sacrificing a lot to make sure the season plays out. I think a bowl game at the end of the year would be a great cherry on the top of a comeback season, but I’m not the one who should be making the decision.

Will Pegler: No offense to the Duke’s Mayo or Guaranteed Rate Bowls, but it’d be completely understandable if the Nittany Lions didn’t feel up to playing in those after the year they’ve had. It’s been a grueling season for so many reasons, especially off the field, so it wouldn’t be surprising at all if many players just wanted to get home to their families. However, if I know James Franklin at all, I know he and his coaching staff are a bunch of football guys. It’d be hard to imagine this squad passing up an opportunity to bounce back from an 0-5 start and finish .500 (beat Illinois first, of course).

‘Several Seniors Will Use Their Extra Year Of Eligibility’

SB: I know that if I was on the cusp of making an NFL roster or had little chance to continue football after college, I would take this opportunity to continue playing without a doubt. Life after sports is boring.

GA: I don’t think it’s an overreaction to say this, but I think it’s way too soon to tell. Penn State’s seniors have given no hints as to whether they’ll stay an extra year, however, I could see a good number of seniors taking advantage of it considering the unorthodox 2020 season.

RP: I’m not sure if several will, but there will likely be at least one. Guys like Jaquan Brisker, who are finally breaking out this year, have a tough decision to make. Do they try to get drafted now while playing well or keep developing in college and risk having a poor season? Again, this is really up to each player’s individual situation. If they have a career or potential draft spot lined up after school, they may just want to leave Penn State behind them and start their next chapter.

WP: I expect a guy like Shaka Toney to call it a career in Happy Valley and move on to a possible career in the NFL. However, several players seem to be hitting their stride just as their final seasons are wrapping up, so why not take the opportunity to put more tape out there and give yourself a better chance to go pro? Jaquan Brisker and Lamont Wade are both really starting to come in their own into the secondary, while Tariq Castro-Fields has missed a ton of time due to injury, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of those guys came back for one more crack at it in the blue and white.

‘Will Levis Will Make A Case For QB1 This Offseason’

SB: It’ll be a nice competition, but we all know that Sean Clifford is this team’s quarterback.

GA: I think this is an overreaction. I believe the ship has sailed on Levis’s chance as the starter as long as Sean Clifford is here. Over the past few weeks, Clifford has looked better and limited the turnovers. As long as he does that, this is his job and that’s not going to change. Clifford is a superior quarterback, and as long as he continues to limit the turnovers, Levis should stay as the backup.

RP: I think he can make a case, but I don’t think he will. In short spurts, he’s certainly been good, especially true when his passing ability is dialed in. Clifford hasn’t quite been his 2019 self in the back half of this season, but he’s looked a lot more poised and composed. Perhaps he can work on his accuracy over the offseason and come back stronger. I don’t see Will Levis being the one to take his job unless he takes a crazy step forward.

WP: Will Levis is clearly an impressive athlete. When he’s gotten opportunities to throw the football, he’s looked OK. Sean Clifford is still this team’s quarterback, however. If anything, Levis’ presence as a viable option could fuel Clifford during this offseason and help him bounce back from an up-and-down season.

‘Shane Simmons Should Start At Defensive End The Rest Of The Way’

SB: It’s felt like Shane Simmons has been part of this team for nearly a decade, but why hasn’t he seen the field much this season? His veteran presence last week showed, and Penn States defense thrived behind him. He should be playing out the season in the starting rotation.

GA: As long as Jayson Oweh is healthy, I think he should start opposite of Shaka Toney. However, Shane Simmons absolutely deserves more playing time the rest of the way. Simmons had the best game of his college career against the Spartans, totaling seven tackles, two for a loss, and 1.5 sacks. Simmons should be on the field more in passing situations.

RP: Probably not. He was really good against the Spartans and even got some playing time against Rutgers, but if Oweh is healthy, he should start. Simmons has been at Penn State since 2016 and really never amounted to what he was meant to be. Perhaps Simmons would benefit from staying an extra year, but he would still need to fight Adisa Isaac for a starting spot. Oweh is the future and should get as many reps in as possible.

WP: Shane Simmons has some real talent and he proved that against the Spartans with a massive Senior Day performance. However, if Jayson Oweh is available, I think he should still get the start over Simmons. His athleticism is too valuable not to utilize, and even if he hasn’t necessarily lived up to some lofty expectations this year, he always has the ability to make a game-changing play off the edge.

‘Parker Washington Will Be Penn State’s Best Weapon Entering 2021’

SB: I still think that Jahan Dotson is more of a weapon while Parker Washington has taken a respectable role as the safety outlet, especially since losing Pat Freiermuth. Washington is a baller and a game-changer, but saying he’s more of a weapon than Dotson would be (right now) a bit far-fetched. Assuming Dotson doesn’t declare for the draft, Parker Washington will continue to work with Jahan and KeAndre Lambert-Smith to round out a pretty solid starting trio next year. If Dotson leaves, it’s Washington’s team.

GA: This isn’t an overreaction because I think Jahan Dotson and Pat Freiermuth will declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. If that happens, Parker Washington will absolutely be the best offensive weapon for Kirk Ciarrocca’s offense entering next season. Washington is a rising star, and he’s only going to get better with more experience.

RP: If Jahan Dotson sticks around, Washington likely won’t be the best weapon. But Washington and Dotson could be a 1A and 1B type of deal, especially if Washington continues to develop at the rate he has this year. Dotson is clearly the more experienced and more reliable guy, but Washington has shown a lot of promise for just a true freshman. Not to mention Noah Cain will be back and Keyvone Lee will continue to develop, so it’s hard to say right now that Washington will be the guy.

WP: From an after the catch standpoint, Washington is the most dangerous player on this team. The freshman has awesome speed and almost always manages to break at least one or two tackles. However, I still feel Jahan Dotson is a better pure pass-catcher than the young Texan. As long as Dotson stays for next season, he’ll remain Sean Clifford’s favorite target while Washington will be a big-play machine.

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