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Penn State’s Post-Michigan State Report Card

Penn State’s regular season is in the books, folks.

The Nittany Lions defeated Michigan State 35-16 Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium, finishing its season with a 10-2 record on the precipice of a New Year’s Six bowl berth. Sean Clifford played his final game in Happy Valley and threw for 204 yards and four touchdowns.

All in all, it was another solid day for the Nittany Lions. So, let’s hand out some grades.

Quarterbacks: A-

Sean Clifford finished his career in Beaver Stadium in a fitting way. The sixth-year quarterback completed 19-of-24 passes (79% completion percentage) for 204 yards and four touchdowns. Once again, his game management skills helped Penn State control the game and pull away from the Spartans when they made it close in the fourth quarter. His touchdown pass to KeAndre Lambert-Smith was arguably one of the best throws Clifford has made all season.

Speaking of KLS, he had his own passing touchdown on the day, too. That come on a 48-yard dart to Theo Johnson in the second quarter.

Running Backs: A-

There’s not much more to say about Kaytron Allen and Nick Singleton at this point. We know what they can do, and they executed well against the Spartans. The duo combined for 160 rushing yards on 38 combined carries. They also got into the receiving game. Allen caught three passes for 24 yards, while Singleton recorded three catches for 30 yards and a big touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Wide Receivers: B

The wide receivers had a relatively quiet day. Lambert-Smith had the best day out of all the receivers, catching five passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. Besides him, the only two other receivers that caught passes were Mitchell Tinsley and Trey Wallace. Tinsley caught one pass for 13 yards, while Wallace had one catch for four yards.

Tight Ends: A

This group contributed to the passing game the most. Theo Johnson had the best game of the three, bringing in two touchdowns on three catches for 62 yards. Tyler Warren also found the end zone once and made two receptions for 17 yards.

Brenton Strange had the quietest day with only two catches for 17 yards.

Offensive Line: B+

Clifford was sacked three times throughout the game, and Michigan State recorded four QB hurries. In terms of protecting the quarterback, it was a fine performance from the offensive line. The group also continued to make holes for Singleton and Allen to take advantage of, allowing them to rush for a combined 160 yards to keep the offense moving. It’s hard to be upset with that type of play, especially without Olu Fashanu or Landon Tengwall.

Front Seven: A

Penn State’s front seven was dominant once again. Not only was Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne sacked three times and hurried six times, but Elijah Collins was held to only 33 rushing yards on 10 carries. Behind him, Jalen Berger had 14 yards on seven carries. The group was a brick wall all day and didn’t let much get through it. True freshman linebacker Abdul Carter was all over the place and shined for the group. He sacked Thorne twice and recorded three tackles for loss.

Secondary: B

There were a few times in the fourth quarter when Penn State’s secondary broke down, which allowed Michigan State to advance the ball in big chunks down the field. Once the Spartans brought the game within one score, the secondary went on lockdown mode. Kalen King recorded a very timely interception in the fourth quarter that basically iced the game for the Nittany Lions. In the end, the secondary allowed 229 passing yards, which was good enough to help Penn State record a win.

Special Teams: B-

We have mixed feelings regarding the special teams play. Jake Pinegar probably had his worst day of the season, as he missed two field goals, one from 37 yards and a chip shot from 28 yards. Barney Amor did his job well with four punts for a combined 200 yards, as one was downed inside the 20-yard line.

On the other hand, the punt coverage forced a fumble and recovered the ball deep in Spartans territory to set up Tyler Warren’s touchdown.

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a senior accounting and economics major from Long Island, NY. You can probably recognize him as the typical Italian-American with slicked back black hair. He is an avid fan of the New York Rangers and Mets, along with every Penn State Athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Rangers and Penn State content or email him at [email protected]

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