Penn State Football Grades, MVP from win over Wisconsin

Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)
Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Penn State Football went on the road and got a massive 16-10 week one victory in Madison Saturday afternoon, potentially thrusting themselves into the top 10.

What a difference a year makes.

Last season, Penn State Football kicked off their season with a gut wrenching overtime loss at Indiana, this time around the Nittany Lions hung on and avoid heartache in a 16-10 victory over the Badgers at Camp Randall stadium Saturday afternoon.

Points were at a premium in this one, as the two ranked teams locked horns to a 0-0 tie through the first half, thanks in part to a blocked field goal by defensive end Arnold Ebiketie and a Wisconsin fumble in the red zone a few drives later.

Things opened up for both sides in the second half when Penn State Football struck first with a 49 yard touchdown pass from Sean Clifford to star wideout Jahan Dotson.

The two teams traded blows and were locked at 10 in the fourth quarter when once again Dotson got behind the defense and he and Clifford connected for 42 yards. Noah Cain capped that drive off with a tough two yard score, putting the Nittany Lions up 16-10 after an almost costly missed extra point.

Penn State’s defense shined in this one, even meeting their weekly goal of three turnovers per game, with two interceptions and a fumble recovery.

However, the Lions were out-gained by the Badgers 359 to 297 while Wisconsin possessed the ball for over 42 minutes and ran almost 100 plays. The difference was the explosive plays, which is why head coach James Franklin brought offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich to Happy Valley.

An argument can be made this is Penn State Football’s best win since beating Ohio State in 2016, and one that could change the narrative, expectations and trajectory of this team this season. Mentally, this has to be a huge win for these players and staff after how things went a year ago in Indiana.

Let’s give out grades to three Penn State Football stars, and a game MVP: 

Penn State Football QB Sean Clifford silences the critics … for now

Grade: B

It was an ugly start offensively for Clifford and company as they were held scoreless in the first half, but opened things up in the second half with explosive connections to Dotson and Lambert-Smith.

Clifford finished the game 18-of-33 for 247 yards with a touchdown, most importantly not turning the ball over and putting the defense in a bad spot.

He showed signs of what plagued them last season, but he did a good job in the second half standing in the pocket delivering accurate deep balls when they needed it most.

Turnover free and making big throws is the Clifford this team needs if they want to meet or exceed expectations.