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Analyzing Post-Iowa Reactions For Penn State Football

For the first time this season, No. 7 Penn State football lost a game.

The Nittany Lions fell three spots in the AP Top 25 Poll after Saturday’s heartbreaking loss to Iowa at Kinnick Stadium. Key injuries, including a game-ending knockout for Sean Clifford, clearly played a role in the defeat. James Franklin’s team also still has a path to a Big Ten title, but the hot takes are still rolling early this week.

With that, let’s take a look at some of the chatter surrounding the 5-1 Nittany Lions.

‘Penn State’s Offense Will Need To Make Serious Adjustments If Ta’Quan Roberson Is The Starter For An Extended Period Of Time’

Will Pegler: It was clear Mike Yurcich and the offense stuck to their guns even with Roberson behind center during the second half Saturday. Unless he improves drastically over the course of this bye week, however, the offensive strategy is definitely going to need to change for the Nittany Lions. Roberson doesn’t have the same skillset as Clifford and doesn’t seem to have the same level of comfortability in the pocket that the veteran does.

If Clifford is forced to miss at least the Illinois game, don’t be surprised if Penn State’s offensive style changes for Roberson.

Sam Brungo: I’m not sure this is fair to say with such a small sample size against a good team in a hostile environment. Still, the Nittany Lions will definitely need some changes to fit him better after the bye week if he continues.

Gabe Angieri: I mean, probably. Yes, the sample size was small and against a really tough Iowa defense. However, Roberson is a different quarterback than Clifford, and Mike Yurcich should play to his strengths in order to get the most out of him. Roberson was put into a tough situation Saturday, so I think Penn State should do whatever it needs to do to make sure the signal-caller is as comfortable as can be next time out.

Ryan Parsons: This depends. If Penn State thinks Clifford will be out for only the Illinois game as a precaution, it should stick to the game plan and run a similar offense around Roberson. It’s obvious this didn’t work against Iowa, but with two full weeks of practice they could easily iron it out. Plus, the field position and false start issues could be resolved, allowing Roberson to run more RPO-style stuff with an open field. Oh, and maybe they’ll finally run the football well.

‘Penn State’s Rushing Attack Is A Lost Cause’

Will Pegler: Besides Keyvone Lee, none of Penn State’s rushers have gotten into any sort of rhythm this season. Noah Cain hasn’t looked like himself, and explosive carries here and there from Devyn Ford and John Lovett just haven’t been enough for this offense. Maybe they’ll get something after the bye week against Illinois, but I don’t have a ton of confidence in this group at the moment.

Sam Brungo: This is an overreaction. Once Noah Cain gets back into the swing of things, the run game will as well. The last few weeks have been underwhelming, but it seems like lingering injuries may also hold a part in the overall issue.

Gabe Angieri: I hate to say it, but this is looking less and less like an overreaction as each week passes. Penn State simply can’t run the football with any sort of consistency, and it’s given us no reason to believe that’ll change. Could the bye week change that? Maybe, but I’m not really confident at this point.

Ryan Parsons: “Lost cause” is pretty aggressive, but it feels more and more like it each week. Between injuries, tough defensive opponents, and mistimed blocking schemes, Penn State just hasn’t been able to sync things up. I don’t, however, think it’s time to give up. The stars could align and the gears could finally start moving after a restful bye week.

‘If Sean Clifford Is Out For Multiple Games, Penn State’s Season Is Pretty Much Over’

Will Pegler: I’ve been seeing this all over Twitter the past few days. Look, if Clifford is in fact seriously hurt, the Nittany Lions will be able to scrape together a few wins against inferior opponents without him. However, based on the hype this team built through the first five weeks, the finish to the season will be very disappointing without the veteran quarterback. Clifford’s taken his fair share of criticism since last season, but a few games without him will prove how important he is to this team — the second half against Iowa clearly did.

Sam Brungo: I think it depends on what you consider “over”. Will Penn State still be ranked and make a decent bowl game with Roberson at quarterback? Yes. Easier games against Illinois, Rutgers, and Maryland will help offset the losses to bigger teams if they occur. If by “over” you mean Penn State is no longer a national championship contender, I’d say you may be right.

Gabe Angieri: If Sean Clifford is out for the season or forced to miss multiple games, you can kiss Penn State’s playoff chances or Rose Bowl aspirations goodbye. That’s no knock on Roberson, I’m just saying important Clifford has been to Penn State’s season so far. I think the Nittany Lions can win games with Roberson at the helm. They could even make it to a decent bowl game. As Sam said, it depends on what you consider “over” to mean.

Ryan Parsons: If Sean Clifford is seriously injured, Penn State can forget about its goals to go to a Big Ten title game or a national championship. However, if the Nittany Lions know they have to go with Roberson, I believe they will still be able to scrape together some wins and take a shot at a New Year’s Six bowl. The backup looked flat-out bad against Iowa, but it was obviously an awful situation for him to be taking the first meaningful snaps of his collegiate career. 

‘Iowa Is Penn State’s Newest Rival’

Will Pegler: Iowa’s fans are…passionate, to say the very least. Kinnick Stadium is an intense atmosphere, and over the past few years, the Nittany Lions have had some awesome battles with the Hawkeyes there. Based on that and the booing of injuries that took place, why not make this a new rivalry? The two sides don’t face each other again until 2023, so things may cool off by then.

Sam Brungo: Iowa and its fans certainly didn’t make a good impression this weekend, but Penn State is a far better program and team. This may seem like a rivalry moving forward, but just as constant as the basic blues, Penn State will remain #Unrivaled.

Gabe Angieri: This is an overreaction. Penn State’s top rival can’t be a team it doesn’t play every year. It’s as simple as that. Does it raise the stakes next time around? I think so, but I’m not putting this rivalry ahead of Michigan or Ohio State.

Ryan Parsons: Penn State is “Unrivaled,” but boy is something brewing between these teams and fanbases. There have been some truly epic showdowns with the Hawkeyes during the James Franklin era, and these teams see each other often despite being on different sides of the Big Ten. I’m all for it.

‘As Long As Sean Clifford Isn’t Seriously Injured, Penn State Is Still A Playoff-Caliber Team’

Will Pegler: All we’ve talked about is what happens if Clifford misses extended time, but what if a week of rest heals him up just fine? We know nothing about the quarterback’s injury, and that could very well be the case. If 14 is in fact able to return with no issues, the Nittany Lions are still absolutely in the mix for a run at all of their goals, including a conference championship and a run at the College Football Playoff.

Sam Brungo: With Clifford, this team would’ve dominated the Hawkeyes. I’m confident the Nittany Lions could do that to any team in the country, with the exception of Georgia, if Clifford is healthy. Even with one loss on the season, with Clifford, the Playoff is not only the goal, but the expectation.

Gabe Angieri: Absolutely. Penn State was well on its way to beating the Hawkeyes by more than two scores with Clifford under center. Like I’ve told multiple people over the past two days, Penn State still controls its own destiny. If the Nittany Lions win out, they’re in the Playoff. That’s obviously easier said than done, but with Clifford in the lineup, anything can happen.

Ryan Parsons: If Clifford played the entire game, I think Penn State would have beaten Iowa by multiple scores and be the No. 2 team in the country right now. But, lingering injury issues can often affect a player even if they’re able to return to play. But if he’s able to come back at full force, the sky is really the limit for what this team can do. Plus, everyone is kinda pissed off now. Hungry dogs run faster.

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