Penn State's Rose Bowl win: An indication of Large Ten supremacy forward?

Published:Mar 9, 202408:38
Penn State's Rose Bowl win: An indication of Large Ten supremacy forward?

PASADENA, Calif. — Sean Clifford soaked all of it up.

The Penn State quarterback had simply given the efficiency of a lifetime and positively one in every of his greatest ever within the all-white uniforms that by some means shined even brighter regardless of wet circumstances on the 109th Granddaddy of Them All on Monday night time. His 16 completions for 279 yards and a pair of touchdowns have been removed from any profession highs, however each one in every of them was among the many most memorable of an up-and-down profession that ended by thumping No. 8 Utah 35-21 and securing the college’s first Rose Bowl victory since 1995.

It was a becoming conclusion for an 11-2 marketing campaign that was one of many program's greatest in current reminiscence — and it got here with a trophy to show it. Clifford loved each minute of it, from the crowd-pleasing scrambles to the deep photographs he related on, to the ultimate jog off the sphere deep within the fourth quarter that introduced those that remained among the many poncho-clad 94,873 to their toes in applause. 

But amid all of the rightful reward upon the conclusion of 1 profession, it was additionally laborious to not think about a extra becoming passing of the torch for James Franklin’s crew. Clifford deserves all of the plaudits for the result, but it surely was his supporting solid stepping up in unison that may get Penn State followers much more excited over the longer term to return.

One job performed, one other prepared to start.

"We talked about it. It provides us a whole lot of momentum. The usual of what we count on subsequent yr is well-defined," mentioned defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. "When you style one thing like this, it’s laborious to return."

Excessive bars are nothing new for this program, which has nationwide championships within the trophy cupboard and a Large Ten title received only a few years in the past underneath its present head coach. What’s totally different this time round, although, is what's in place as eyes flip to a 2023 season during which they might be favorites to win the league and make a return journey to Pasadena for the semifinal that takes place subsequent yr.

All you needed to do was look across the Rose Bowl to see all of it on full show. 

Although Joey Porter Jr. was celebrating along with his teammates within the aftermath, the Nittany Lions didn’t appear to overlook him as a lot as anticipated. Defensively, they held the Utes to simply 45% passing and allowed only one huge passing play till the ultimate two minutes of the sport. Outdoors of Ja’Quinden Jackson’s dancing, tackle-breaking 19-yard landing run within the second quarter, a giant play offense was restricted to simply three runs of greater than 15 yards.

Kalen King, who flew underneath the radar with Porter incomes All-American honors, stepped up all yr to guide the protection in move breakups and can return after snagging one of many crew’s two interceptions. Fellow sophomore KeAndre Lambert-Smith was an offensive star, recording the longest landing catch in Rose Bowl historical past when he raced previous the aim line on an 88-yarder.

Then there are the younger tailbacks that everyone was already speaking about in 2022. Nick Singleton busted out an 87-yard landing run during which he was barely touched amid a 120-yard effort on simply seven carries. Kaytron Allen chipped in with a landing run of his personal and got here up simply shy of giving the Nittany Lions a pair of 1,000-yard freshman rushers on the season.

"It means rather a lot. Going into the season, lots of people didn’t have excessive hopes for us — they didn’t actually have us successful something," King mentioned. "However I really feel like this season, and this win notably simply boosted us for begin subsequent yr and put extra respect on Penn State as a program."

Penn State's lone losses in 2022 have been to a pair of playoff groups in Michigan and Ohio State, the latter of which they led within the fourth quarter. These groups face loads of questions going into subsequent season, between plenty of key gamers off to the NFL or different starters departing via the Switch Portal. 

Heck, who is aware of if Wolverines’ coach Jim Harbaugh will even be round by kickoff subsequent season given how a lot his identify has come up in connection to NFL job openings.

Whereas Penn State does have to switch Clifford behind middle, there's a well-groomed successor already ready within the wings with game-time expertise in former five-star Drew Allar. These across the program know he has the bodily instruments to be even higher than any of his predecessors, and optimism is operating excessive that the offense will be tailor-made even higher to his huge arm.

"Profitable simply brings optimistic vitality all over the place. We’re a optimistic crew," remarked Allar. "We will’t fear about expectations. We simply should go in on daily basis and put the work in and let the outcomes deal with themselves."

The rising sophomore QB threw only one move within the recreation however is aware of what is predicted of him shifting ahead. He'll be taking over the mantle of huge man on campus with fairly a excessive bar to clear after the way in which Clifford completed the season. 

Allar appears prepared for it, nevertheless, excited even, and is aware of he’ll have loads of assist alongside the way in which. Along with the host of talent place gamers that shined on Monday night time, potential first-round left sort out Olu Fashanu — who didn’t play in a recreation during which PSU averaged 8.3 yards per play — already introduced he was skipping out on the NFL Draft to return to State School for one more go round.

"I’m simply so happy with these guys," mentioned an additional exuberant Franklin when he wasn’t hugging half his crew. "I used to be right here in 2016, one of many higher Rose Bowl video games, and watched someone else have a good time. And I wished this for them. I couldn’t have wrote the script any higher." 

The script for what may find yourself turning into the final conventional Large Ten-Pac-12 Rose Bowl definitely was fairly good for all these in Franklin’s nook. Much more thrilling for these across the program?

The sequel. 

"That was one other pattern going into subsequent yr," added Lambert-Smith. "Y’all will see some extra."

Extra of Lambert-Smith. Extra of Allen and Singleton. Extra of King. Extra of Penn State. 

Maybe much more of all of them successful huge video games in 2023, too.

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Publish date: 2023-01-03 10:50:48
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