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Analyzing Post-Michigan Reactions For Penn State Football

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Nittany Lions got smacked by Michigan. They got punched, kicked, and stomped en route to a humiliating 41-17 loss in the Big House.

If fans were unhappy after Northwestern, it pales in comparison to after Michigan. Penn State couldn’t stop the Wolverines’ rushing attack at all, as Blake Corum, Donovan Edwards, JJ McCarthy, and backup quarterback CJ Stokes combined for 418 yards. On the opposite side of the ball, Mike Yurcich’s offense failed to do much of anything either, as it finished with 268 total yards.

As fans of the blue and white combust around the country, we attempted to make sense of some of the hottest takes coming out of this weekend.

‘Penn State Is On Upset Alert Against Minnesota’

Frankie Marzano: It sure seems like it is based on Penn State’s recent history. (see 2017 & 2018 Michigan State, 2020 Ohio State, 2021 Illinois). After Saturday’s loss, all the players spoke about putting it behind them and going 1-0 next week. So, I think James Franklin and his squad will learn from last season. Minnesota is no slouch, though. And, as we learned with Illinois last year, you can never count any team out.

Sam Fremin: It’s hard to argue with this. I’m inclined to believe that Penn State will bounce back against an inferior opponent (especially if Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan is still out with his injury), but that doesn’t mean the Nittany Lions shouldn’t be on upset alert. It would be a different narrative if they showed any heart against Michigan, but Penn State fans should and will be on edge for Saturday’s White Out.

Ryan Parsons: Minnesota has two losses and a potentially hobbled quarterback coming into the White Out, but that’s never stopped James Franklin from letting a big loss snowball into two or three. The Nittany Lions will ~probably~ come out on top, but the vibes don’t feel great.

Gabe Angieri: I don’t think anyone can say confidently that Penn State will 100% win on Saturday. The loss to Michigan was demoralizing, and the vibes are pretty bad right now. Do I think the Nittany Lions win? Yes. However, they could be on upset alert.

‘Kaytron Allen Is Penn State’s Best Running Back Right Now’

Frankie Marzano: Kaytron Allen is Penn State’s best all-around running back at the moment. Nick Singleton made noise in his first three games as a Nittany Lion, but he’s struggled in his last three, especially against Michigan last Saturday. Through three games, he rushed for 334 yards and four touchdowns. In his last three, he’s only gone for 148 yards and a touchdown on nine more carries. Allen’s numbers aren’t too flashy, but he gets Penn State the yards it needs when it needs them. Singleton is either going to explode or gain one yard, and we’ve seen this in the last few games.

Sam Fremin: I’ve said this since the team’s manhandling of Auburn in September. Kaytron Allen is Penn State’s most complete running back at this point in time. Nick Singleton has an inimitable home run ability, but he feels rawer than Allen. At the end of their time in Happy Valley, Singleton will likely eclipse Allen, having matured into his best version of himself. But for now, I’ll take Allen’s consistency.

Ryan Parsons: I think Kaytron Allen’s usage in goal-line and short-yardage situations makes him feel like the better running back, but that doesn’t mean he necessarily is. Yes, he’s performed better than Singleton over the last few weeks, but that seems more like the ebbs and flows of a season than him undoubtedly being the best back. In fact, I’m predicting a bounce-back game for Singleton in the White Out.

Gabe Angieri: I’m still on the Nick Singleton hype train. A few down games for a true freshman isn’t out of the ordinary. At his best, Singleton is Penn State’s best running back. Kaytron Allen is no slouch, though. Both backs are really impressive, and I expect bounce-back performances from both of them during the White Out.

‘Drew Allar Should Get The Reigns For The Rest Of The Season’

Frankie Marzano: Yes, but only if Sean Clifford isn’t healthy. We saw James Franklin try to play a clearly unhealthy Clifford last season against Illinois, and it came back to bite him. The difference this year is that Franklin actually has a backup quarterback that is capable of winning games. If you have a healthy Clifford, I’d wait to see what happens with Ohio State. If Penn State loses to the Buckeyes, it can’t hurt to get Allar in there to get him some valuable starting experience.

Sam Fremin: The season is not over. How can Franklin face his players and future recruits if he pulls the plug on a potential 10-win season before it’s even over? The likes of PJ Mustipher, Ji’Ayir Brown, and others deserve more. If Clifford is healthy, he gives the team the best chance to win. People who blame him for Saturday are so lacking in perspective — it’s ridiculous. That said, if Clifford’s hurt, Allar needs to start. I think we’ll see Allar start in his first White Out. Bring this take back to me when Penn State loses again.

Ryan Parsons: If Sean Clifford is even remotely hurt, Drew Allar should start. We saw how this went against Illinois last year, and you’d like to think Franklin’s learned his lesson. I could write 2,000 words on sticking with Clifford vs. jumpstarting the future with Allar, but it comes down to the veteran’s health at the moment. But, you start to wonder at what point Clifford’s upside through experience and battle-testing is outweighed by the development and transfer portal-protecting benefits of Letting Drew Cook.

Gabe Angieri: Like my colleagues said, I think if Sean Clifford is healthy, he should start. However, this better not turn into Illinois again. If Clifford is hurt, you need to play Drew Allar. Illinois was an absolute atrocity, and despite what anyone says, Clifford had no business playing in that game. Personally, I think Clifford is hurt, so that means Allar should get the start on Saturday.

‘Penn State Should Have Punted Down 24-17 In The Third Quarter’

Frankie Marzano: I think going for it was a good move. Even if Penn State dropped a punt inside the five-yard line, do you really think the defense could’ve stopped Michigan’s rushing attack with how it had been performing in the game? Penn State needed to score on that drive to limit Michigan’s momentum. Even though it didn’t, I still think it was the right move.

Sam Fremin: This was the right move. You shouldn’t judge a decision based on its result. Penn State’s defense was not stopping anything, exemplified by Blake Corum’s touchdown on the very next play. James Franklin and his staff didn’t have their best day, but I like the fourth down call.

Ryan Parsons: Even if Penn State punted here, the defense was completely gassed. Corum’s touchdown would have just been 90 yards instead of 61. Franklin was coaching to win here, and Washington should have caught the pass. Ultimately, this was inconsequential. The offense was just fried.

Gabe Angieri: Everyone loves to be a Monday morning quarterback. The move was fine. It didn’t work, but that’s football. I ultimately don’t think punting would’ve made a difference. The Wolverines were running wild no matter where they were on the field.

‘Penn State Will Never Be Elite Under James Franklin’

Frankie Marzano: No.

Sam Fremin: I’m going to punt on this one for now. I’ve been called many a mean name about my (tentative) long-term support of James Franklin. We’ll find out soon. With back-to-back recruiting classes boasting huge prospects such as Drew Allar, Nick Singleton, Kaytron Allen, Abdul Carter, Alex Birchmeier, Tony Rojas, J’Ven Williams, and more, the pieces are coming together. What Franklin does with these top-tier classes could very well define his Penn State legacy. If James Franklin’s Nittany Lions will ever be elite, these next two or three years will prove it.

As a side note though: stop circulating Matt Rhule’s name for the Penn State job. You don’t want that. You make think you want that, but you do not.

Ryan Parsons:

Gabe Angieri: Can Penn State win a top-10 matchup before we start talking about elite? The team is 16-12 over the last three seasons. There’s a ton of work to do. Never say never, though.

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