college football writer
Pasadena, CA — Sean Clifford has absorbed it all.
The Penn State quarterback just put on his best performance of his life in an all-white jersey despite wet weather at the 109th Grandpa on Monday night. His 16 completions of 279 yards and his two touchdowns were far from his career-highs, but both were his 35-21 wins over No. 8 Utah. The school won the Rose Bowl for the first time since his 1995.
That was a fitting conclusion for an 11-2 campaign, one of the most memorable programs in recent memory, and it came with a trophy to prove it. Clifford went from a crowd-pleasing scramble to a deep shot he connected and a final jog off the field deep in the fourth quarter that applauded those who remained among the 94,873 in ponchos. I enjoyed every minute of it until now.
But in all the justifiable accolades for one career ending, one couldn’t help but imagine a more fitting torch passing for James Franklin’s team. Clifford deserves all the credit for that result, but it was his supporting role who stepped up in unison that could make Penn State fans even more excited going forward.
You have completed one task and are ready to begin another.
“We’ve talked about it. It gives us a lot of momentum,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. No”.
High hurdles are nothing new with a program that hosted national championships in the trophy cabinet and won the Big Ten title just a few years ago under its current head coach. What’s different this time, though, is that as we look to the 2023 season, they could be the favorites to win the league and return to Pasadena for the semifinals next year.
All you had to do was look around the Rose Bowl to make sure everything was in full display.
Joey Porter Jr. was celebrating with his teammates afterwards, but the Nittany Lions didn’t seem to miss him as much as they expected. Defensively, they held his Utes to just 45 percent passing, allowing him just one big passing play into his final two minutes of the game. The big-play offense was limited to three runs of 15-plus yards, except for Jackinden Jackson’s tackle-breaking 19-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Karen King, who flew under the radar for Porter’s All-American honor, stepped up all year to lead the defense in pass breakup after hooking one of the team’s two interceptions. KeAndre Lambert-Smith, also a sophomore, was an offensive star who recorded the longest touchdown catch in Rose Bowl history when he raced over the goal line with an 88-yarder.
Then there’s the young tailback that everyone was already talking about in 2022. Nick Singleton broke a nearly untouchable 87-yard touchdown run in a 120-yard effort on just seven carries. Caitron Allen chipped in with his own touchdown run, shy away from giving the Nittany Lions a pair of 1,000-yard freshman rushers for the season.
“It means a lot. Coming into the season, a lot of people didn’t have high expectations of us. They really weren’t letting us win anything,” King said. “But it feels like this season, and this win in particular, has pushed us toward a good start next year and made us respect Penn State more as a program.”
Penn State’s only losses in 2022 were against two playoff teams, Michigan and Ohio, the latter leading in the fourth quarter. These teams face a lot of trouble heading into next season among other starters with many key players moving to his NFL or departing from transfer portals.
Considering how much his name has come up in relation to NFL recruiting, heck we know if Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh will be around by next season’s kickoff.
Penn State will have to replace Clifford behind the center, but a well-kept successor with game-time experience for former five-star Drew Aller is already waiting in the wings. officials know he has better physical tools than any of his predecessors and are optimistic that the offense will be better coordinated with his larger arm.
“Victory brings positive energy everywhere. We are a positive team,” said Allah. “We can’t worry about expectations. Just go and do the work every day and let the results process naturally.”
The rising sophomore QB has only thrown one pass in the game, but knows what to expect from him moving forward. After Clifford finishes his season, he’ll have to take on the mantle of a big man on campus and clear some pretty high hurdles.
But Allah looks ready but excited and knows he’ll have a lot of help along the way. Potential first-round left tackle Oru Fashanu, who did not play in a game averaging 8.3 yards per play, has already announced that he will be skipped in the NFL. State drafted to return to his college.
“I’m so proud of them,” Franklin said with great enthusiasm when he wasn’t hugging half the team. I saw someone else celebrate, and I wanted this for them, and I couldn’t have written a better script.”
The script for what could be the last traditional Big Ten-Pac-12 Rose Bowl was certainly very good for everyone who was in Franklin’s corner. Even more exciting for the people around the program?
“It was another sample for next year,” added Lambert-Smith. “We’ll see more of you guys.”
More on Lambert Smith. More on Allen and Singleton. King details. Details of Pennsylvania.
Perhaps in 2023 there will be even more players to win the big game.
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