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Analyzing Post-Minnesota Reactions For Penn State Football

Following a crushing 41-17 loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor two weeks ago, Penn State avoided back-to-back losses and defeated Minnesota 45-17 in the annual White Out game.

Not only did Penn State avoid losing two consecutive games, but it took care of business against the Gophers in a very convincing way. Sean Clifford completed 23-of-31 passes for 295 yards and four touchdowns, while the Nittany Lions’ defense looked like its usual self. All of that raises questions pertaining to Penn State’s chances to take down Ohio State this weekend.

So, let’s react to some of those hot takes.

‘The White Out Should Have Been During The Day Against Ohio State’

Frankie Marzano: I think we learned that, in perspective, it should have been. One of the things that make the White Out so special is the ability for it to legitimately play a factor in the game against a tough opponent. There’s a reason why it’s always been picked as Penn State’s biggest home game of the year, not just based on kickoff time: it legitimately improves Penn State’s chances to win those games. Yes, the White Out looks cool at night, but is it worth doing it just for looks? I don’t think so, especially with the Buckeyes coming to town and playing in front of Beaver Stadium fans for the first time since 2018.

Sam Fremin: If you asked me before the season, I would say yes. But from a production standpoint, it probably couldn’t have been scheduled any better. The White Out seems like a necessary momentum booster for a team that was utterly dismantled by Michigan. Under the brightest lights, Penn State made quick work of a decent team. Rather than limping into a matchup with No. 2 Ohio State, excitement has recovered a little bit.

Ryan Parsons: It’s hard to say. I think the average fan values things like gameday experience and tailgating more than the actual game. So, I think it worked out that Minnesota got White Out treatment. Things could still get pretty electric next Saturday.

Gabe Angieri: When Penn State announced Minnesota as the White Out game, I was on board. However, I’ve changed my mind. The atmosphere was good on Saturday, but it just really felt like something was missing. Penn State gambled over the summer that Minnesota would be good, and that gamble didn’t pay off. Lesson learned.

‘Sean Clifford Is Back’

Frankie Marzano: Yes, he is. In fact, I didn’t think he was ever down and out. People are ripping him for struggling against Northwestern and Michigan. Well, here’s the sad reality of the Clifford haters’ dreams. The weather in the game against the Wildcats was miserable, cold, windy, and rainy. Of course, Clifford’s numbers in that game won’t be good. You even see it in the NFL all the time. And then against Michigan, there wasn’t much he could do with almost zero time to throw the ball and no running game available to help balance the offense. He isn’t going to look like an elite quarterback every game, but he is going to get the job done more times than not.

Sam Fremin: He never left. He was never gonna be a Heisman candidate, but he is typically efficient.

Ryan Parsons: After the first few drives against Minnesota, I was fully expecting Clifford to get benched. But, he entered a solid, efficient performance when the dust settles. It’s time for fans to realize that he’ll probably never win you a game outright, but he can elevate the offense when he’s pressing the right buttons.

Gabe Angieri: We know what Sean Clifford is at this point. He’s a good, but not elite, quarterback. That version of Clifford never left. People expecting Clifford to be elite will forever be disappointed, and that’s on them. You can win games with Sean Clifford.

‘A Two-Loss Season Would Still Be A Disappointment’

Frankie Marzano: It wouldn’t be by any stretch of the imagination. I’ll gladly take a potential New Year’s Six Bowl berth. It’s easy to forget now that Penn State has started 6-1, but this team didn’t have many high expectations coming into the season. With losing a bunch of players on the defensive side of the ball and replacing them with multiple first-time starters, it was easy to be bearish on the Nittany Lions this season. That’s not to mention a running game that was putrid all of the 2021 season. Because of that, I’ve never felt like this was the year to make a run at the national championship; next year is. So, I think Penn State fans should be very happy with only a two-loss season, especially considering that the team stole wins at Purdue and Auburn.

Sam Fremin: Usually I’d say no, but starting 5-0 changes expectations. Perhaps unfairly, Penn State’s hot start increased excitement and conference championship hopes. Still, it’s hard to objectively call a two-loss season a disappointment in the grand scheme of things.

Ryan Parsons: Before the season started, I think any fan would take a 10-2 final record. But, with how weak the rest of Penn State’s schedule is shaping out to be, losses to Michigan and Ohio State feel like a letdown. Franklin is paid to win big games. It feels like next Saturday is the only one left.

Gabe Angieri: I’m siding with Ryan here. A 10-2 record is impressive and nothing to overlook. That puts you in New Year’s Six Bowl territory. However, losing to Ohio State and Michigan would just reinforce the idea that James Franklin can’t win big games. As each “big game” passes, it’s hard to argue with that. It’s up to Franklin and the team to change that narrative.

‘Penn State Being 15.5-Point Underdog To Ohio State Is Too Much’

Frankie Marzano: I think the 15.5 line is very disrespectful to Penn State. I know the team got crushed by Michigan on the road very recently, but that’s just one game. And the big difference in this game: it’s in Beaver Stadium. Since 2014, this game has been decided by an average of six points per game at Beaver Stadium, which includes Ohio State’s victory margin of 13 points in 2020. The Nittany Lions always play the Buckeyes close, especially at home, no matter how overmatched the team is. I also have a feeling that the Michigan loss may have lit a fire under the Nittany Lions, which is something the Buckeyes don’t want to run into.

Sam Fremin: I don’t know. There’s a good chance Penn State buckles up and plays Ohio State really close. I wouldn’t be shocked. But, I also wouldn’t be shocked if Ohio State beat the brakes off the Nittany Lions, especially after the poor showing against Michigan. I don’t blame Vegas for leaning this way.

Ryan Parsons: Penn State feels like a good bet. The Nittany Lions always play the Buckeyes close and are coming off one of their best performances of the year. But, I don’t think anyone would be shocked if this one went down like Michigan.

Gabe Angieri: I honestly have no problem with it. I get the game is at Beaver Stadium, but this is still Ohio State we’re talking about. I could very much see a blowout. But, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if this ends up being close.

‘Sean Clifford’s Legacy Is On The Line This Weekend’

Frankie Marzano: It certainly is. At the end of the day, Sean Clifford has been a solid Penn State quarterback. Not bad, not great — just good. Even though he gets an unnecessary amount of hate, he has yet to have a signature win as Penn State’s starting signal caller. This is his chance. If the Cincinnati native can’t lead the Nittany Lions to victory, he will be remembered as just a solid quarterback. But if Penn State wins, his name will certainly carry more weight on Penn State’s all-time list of starting quarterbacks.

Sam Fremin: Nearly everyone has already decided what they think. If you like Clifford and Penn State wins, it proves what you thought. If you like Clifford and Penn State loses, the team didn’t do much to help him either. If you don’t like Clifford and Penn State loses, it proves what you thought. If you don’t like Clifford and Penn State wins, he should have been doing this the whole time.

Ryan Parsons: It would be a tough look to graduate after being a four-year starter and have zero wins against Ohio State.

Gabe Angieri: This is true in a major way, I think. If Penn State wins, the College Football Playoff is within reach. Do you know how much a trip to the Playoff would change the narrative surrounding Clifford and Franklin? This game has massive implications.

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