Five Things We Learned: Michigan State
Penn State (8-0, 5-0) cruised by Michigan State (4-4, 2-3) in a 28-7 win on the road, earning its first win in Spartan Stadium in 10 years. Despite the tough conditions in East Lansing, the No. 6 Nittany Lions have improved their record to 8-0 for the first time in 11 years. Here are five things we learned about Saturday’s victory.
Pat Freiermuth is the real deal
There is no questioning that Pat Freiermuth is a weapon on the field. When a college sophomore is being compared to legendary former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, there’s no denying his talent. The New England native had a field day on Saturday, finishing with five receptions for 60 yards and three touchdowns. For the peak of his highlight reel, look no further than the play in which he carried three Spartans defenders into the end zone.
Freiermuth’s third touchdown of the night was one for the record books. In the third quarter, he tied the all-time Penn State touchdown record for tight ends, previously set by Mike Gesicki, with a total of 15 touchdowns. It took Gesicki four years to set this record. Freiermuth is only in his second year and has tied it already. There is no telling what else this young star could do.
Sean Clifford keeps getting better
When Trace McSorley left Happy Valley for the NFL draft, many thought that the Nittany Lions would never find another McSorley, and they very well may not. But they did find the first Sean Clifford.
The sophomore QB continues to improve week after week. Despite playing in flood-like conditions and throwing a wet football all day, Clifford was extremely accurate outside of one mistimed interception. In the first half alone, Clifford completed 12 of 17 passes for 127 yards and three touchdowns. Just like the weather, it was a total downpour in the first half, as Clifford’s performance led to a 21-0 Penn State lead going into halftime.
The defense is legit
This is something that many already knew, but it’s worth mentioning again: Penn State’s defense is legit. The Nittany Lions continue to put pressure on the quarterback and force turnovers consistently. Two weeks ago, Penn State went into Iowa City, which is not an easy place to play, and held the Hawkeyes to 12 points. For an encore, the Nittany Lions had a goal-line stand for the ages, sending over 100,000 people home happy after the White Out. Saturday was only a continuation of this defensive dominance, as Penn State held the home team Spartans to just seven points on the day, thanks in large part to Micah Parsons, who led the team with 12 tackles. Now a top-five team in the nation, expect Penn State to continue its reign of terror on the defensive side of the ball.
Even a muddy field can’t stop KJ Hamler from reaching the end zone
We learned that it would take even more than a storm to stop the human joystick from finding the end zone. This is the fifth straight week that Hamler had at least one receiving touchdown, bringing his total to eight on the year, which leads the Big Ten. The Dodge Ram may be built Ram Tough, but KJ Hamler is built Ham Tough, as he proved that even on a sloppy field, he has all-wheel drive. It’s no wonder that Michigan State’s head coach Mark Dantonio recruited Hamler for years. The young star is proving his worth on a weekly basis.
Both Penn State and Minnesota will be undefeated for their head-to-head matchup
By the end of Saturday, it became clear that there is going to be a showdown between a pair of 8-0 teams come Nov. 9 in the Twin Cities. Few expected Penn State to remain unbeaten this far into the season, but even fewer predicted that Minnesota would do the same.
The Nittany Lions, led by James Franklin, and the Golden Gophers, led by P.J. Fleck, will put their undefeated records on the line in this matchup. With Penn State in the top five for the first time since 2017 and Minnesota ranked for the first time since 2014, this game will have major implications for both the shape of the Big Ten and the College Football Playoff rankings, which will see its second release of the season on the Tuesday after this game.
Ariel Simpson is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.