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Analyzing Post-Indiana Reactions For Penn State Football

Another week, another impressive win for No. 4 Penn State football.

James Franklin’s group put together a 24-0 shutout over Indiana at Beaver Stadium’s Stripe Out Saturday night, and the Nittany Lions are now rolling into a massive clash with No. 3 Iowa this weekend. The group is now 5-0 and riding high into a gauntlet of Big Ten play, so let’s take a look and some takes surrounding Penn State this week.

‘Jahan Dotson Will Go Down As One Of The Best Receivers In Penn State History’

Will Pegler: Penn State fans are especially high on Jahan Dotson at the moment, and who could blame them? The senior finished 2020 on an absolute tear, and he has yet to be stopped by any defense the Nittany Lions have faced up to this point. Even with that in mind, however, it’s hard to make a statement like this when Dotson isn’t even halfway through his senior season.

If he continues on this pace and helps the Nittany Lions to an electric 2021 season (maybe a College Football Playoff appearance…), then yes, Dotson absolutely deserves that sort of recognition.

Sam Brungo: This is always a tough comparison because there are so many fantastic receivers who have played at Penn State and have spanned throughout several generations. Statistically speaking, I would say DaeSean Hamilton and Deon Butler are near the top of that list. Overall, I would consider KJ Hamler and, yes, Jahan Dotson to be very close to the top in the argument.

Ryan Parsons: Jahan Dotson is absolutely That Dude, but I don’t think this is true. Just from a purely statistical standpoint, Dotson will almost certainly never pass Bobby Engram on the leaderboards. If Penn State were to go on a championship run, it would definitely be fair to put him in the conversation, but he’ll end up with only two seasons as WR1 — with one limited by the pandemic.

Gabe Angieri: From a statistical standpoint, Jahan Dotson probably won’t be first in any of the major categories, but he’ll definitely be up there. The eye test tells me Dotson could very well be the best receiver we’ve ever seen at Penn State, so I really can’t call this an overreaction. If someone wanted to tell me that Dotson is the best receiver in Penn State history, I wouldn’t argue back. He’s incredible, man.

‘Penn State’s Defense Is “Playoff” Good’

Will Pegler: Don’t see this as a stretch at all. Guys like Arnold Ebiketie, Jaquan Brisker, and Brandon Smith are proving they are some of the best players at their positions in the country. With pieces like that, and even more talent behind them, I could see the Nittany Lions competing with any offense they have to face this year.

Sam Brungo: To put this defense on James Franklin’s scale, it is elite.

Ryan Parsons: Yes. Penn State, Iowa, and Georgia have the best defenses in the country as of right now. We’ll see if Brent Bry’s unit can continue to perform against more explosive teams like Ohio State, but right now they are very good.

Gabe Angieri: Yes, yes, and yes again. This defense is absolutely dominant, folks. There’s a difference-maker at each level, whether it be Arnold Ebiketie, Jesse Luketa, or Jaquan Brisker. Add in studs like Brandon Smith, PJ Mustipher, and Ji’Ayir Brown, and you have a scary-looking defense. I’m all in on Brent Pry’s defense.

‘Sean Clifford Is A Heisman Candidate’

Will Pegler: It’s awesome to see Clifford bounce back this season and prove 2020 truly was a fluke for him and the rest of the offense. The quarterback is proving his experience is paying off in dividends, as he looks comfortable in the pocket and is making sound decisions on a consistent basis. Even with all of that in mind, however, Clifford has not proven he’s a Heisman candidate just yet.

If he balls out against Iowa this weekend, let’s circle back on this.

Sam Brungo: This one is also tough for me. We rarely see players from “smaller teams” win college football’s most valuable player award, the last being Lamar Jackson of Louisville. We normally see Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, etc., and the last time we saw a Big Ten Player was Buckeye quarterback Troy Smith in 2006.

Sean Clifford is a great quarterback. I think he has the opportunity to lead this team to a Big Ten Championship, National Championship even. I just don’t think his stats are Heisman-worthy, and it often comes down to that.

Ryan Parsons: I own a shirt that says “SeanCliffordForHeismman.com” on it, but I don’t think he’ll be in the conversation this year. Clifford is a poised passer with an underrated rushing ability, but he doesn’t quite have the “it” factor to win the Heisman. But, a step forward and a championship run could change that this year.

Gabe Angieri: Probably not, but it’s cool that we can even say that. Clifford has played really well this year, and he deserves a ton of credit for Penn State’s early success. Coming off a down 2020 season, the signal-caller has made vast improvements and looks like a completely different quarterback this year — calm, cool, and collected. Heisman candidate? Probably a stretch. Much improved? Absolutely.

‘The Nittany Lions Will Need To Do The Bare Minimum On Offense To Beat Iowa’

Will Pegler: Iowa’s offense frankly isn’t very good. The Hawkeyes have gotten plenty of help from an incredible defense, but they’re averaging a Big Ten-worst 320 total yards per game. That offense simply won’t hang with Brent Pry’s unit. If Penn State scores at least two touchdowns at Kinnick, I see it winning with no problem.

Sam Brungo: Not sure the bare minimum ever wins. The Nittany Lions will be the underdogs in this game and I think they need to show out, using all the firepower they have. Iowa is overrated in my eyes, but it’s still a top team in the country.

I think it’s fair to presume the defense will largely carry the team to a win, but I don’t think you can win a top-five matchup by quite literally only relying on the defense.

Ryan Parsons: “Bare minimum” is an interesting term to use, but Penn State will certainly be able to beat Iowa by limited turnovers and winning the field position battle with special teams. It’s going to be a defensive battle, and whichever offense can take advantage of the other team’s mistakes will come out on top. This will be Clifford & Co.’s biggest test of the year, and I’m excited to see how it plays out.

Gabe Angieri: I wouldn’t say the bare minimum, but Penn State’s offense just has to play a safe game. Don’t turn the ball over, pound the rock, and play the field position game. Let the defense shine against Iowa’s offense, and just play it smart on the offensive end. Obviously, the Nittany Lions will have to score points in order to win this game, but doing the little, basic things will be most significant in this one.

‘An Afternoon Kickoff At Kinnick Will Play To Penn State’s Advantage In A Big Way’

Will Pegler: Nittany Nation let out a collective sigh of relief when this massive game was announced as an afternoon kick, but I don’t know how much that will change the environment. Our nice midwestern friends from Iowa City will still have plenty of time to tailgate and get nice and amped for the top-five matchup, so don’t expect things to be much easier for Penn State’s offense just because kickoff is a little earlier.

Sam Brungo: Huge advantage. I think prime-time Kinnick is one of the sleeper picks for top college atmospheres, especially against a top-four team. I still feel that Penn State pulls this off in primetime, but taking that aspect away plays heavily to the Nittany Lions and their chances of leaving Iowa City as the top-ranked team in the Big Ten.

Ryan Parsons: I don’t know. I still feel like the atmosphere is going to be a big factor, despite it not being a night game. This is the biggest game played in Iowa City in years, so folks will turn out no matter the time of day. However, Penn State isn’t a stranger to playing in front of loud crowds.

Gabe Angieri: Uh, yeah. Who the hell wants to play at Kinnick at night?

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