STATE COLLEGE- The Penn State White Out is widely considered to be one of the best atmospheres in college football, and over 109,000 fans came out for this clash between two top 25 teams.
The story of the day for the Nittany Lions was the quarterback play from Sean Clifford. Clifford finished the game by completing 28 of his 32 pass attempts. While his 280 yards passing might not jump off the stat sheet, Clifford’s ability to stay calm in the pocket (something he has struggled with in the past) is huge and he delivered big time throws for the Lions today. Clifford’s poise was the difference in the Nittany Lions 28-20 victory.
While Auburn might not have won the game, The Tigers were able to gain yards on the ground consistently throughout the contest. Tigers running back Tank Bigsby finished the night with 102 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The two headed running attack from Auburn also featured Jarquez Hunter rushing for 63 yards. Hunter averaged 7-yards a carry for the game.
The Tigers got on the board first with a 45-yard field goal from Anders Carlson. Auburn were gifted with great field position after the Penn State offense failed to pick up a yard on 4th and one from the Auburn’s 44-yard line.
PSU found the end zone for the first time with just under five minutes left in the 1st quarter. After completions of 23 and 37 yards, Clifford was able to find wide receiver Jahan Dotson in the back of the end zone to take the lead 7-3.
After Auburn quarterback Bo Nix found wide receiver Kobe Hudson for a 36-yard play down field, Bigsby was able to get himself into the end zone with a 4-yard touchdown run to put the Tigers back on top 10-7.
Dotson showed his ability to throw the ball tonight when he tossed the ball 22 yards down field to Penn State Tight End Brenton Strange. The drive resulted in seven more points for the Nittany Lions. Clifford utilized the play action to find Strange for the short touchdown.
“We want to be diverse, we want to keep people on their heels,” Penn State head coach James Franklin said about their use of trick plays on the field throughout the game.
On the first play of the second half, PSU’s defense came up with their first take away of the game. The Tigers fumbled the ball deep in their own territory, setting Penn State up with great field position.
Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurich had more tricks up his sleeve when he sent the Penn State’s offense out onto the field in fierce wildcat formation. Lions tight end Tyler Warren took a direct snap and proceeded to launch himself over the offensive line and into the end zone to give the Nittany Lions a 21-10 lead.
Another Bigsby touchdown and a 43-yard field goal from Anderson got Auburn within one point of Penn State but that was as close as they would get to the Lions.
With just under eleven minutes left in the game, Penn State running back Noah Cain found the end zone on a crucial 3rd and goal.
The Tigers had plenty of chances late in the game to tie things up but couldn’t capitalize. Auburn orchestrated an eleven play drive from their own 25-yard line to put them within ten yards of the end zone. After failing to score on their first three downs, the Tigers was starring at 4th and two. Auburn attempted a fade route in the back corner of the end zone but Hudson wasn’t able to come up with it.
Nix finished the day in the air with 185 total yards and no touchdowns.
“Overall, it’s a great win,” Coach Franklin said after the game “We’re 1-0, we’ll enjoy it for a little bit and then we’ll get up in the morning and start all over”
Penn State will continue their home stretch next week when Villanova comes to town. Meanwhile, Auburn will return home to take on Georgia State.