On Monday evening, the #11 Penn State Nittany Lions traveled to Pasadena, CA to take on the #8 Utah Utes in the Rose Bowl. This was Penn State’s fifth Rose Bowl appearance, and first since the 2016 season. The last time Penn State was in the Rose Bowl, they lost to the USC Trojans, 52-49.
This was the first time the Nittany Lions won the Rose Bowl since the 1994 college football season, their second ever in college history. Like every other game, we at Victory Bell Rings have some game balls to go out.
Offense: Sean Clifford, QB
Sean Clifford arrived at Penn State in 2017 and served his first season as a red-shirt in his freshman year. In 2018 he played four games, starting in zero of them. However, he got his reps in and prepared himself for his 2019 season.
Clifford, for better or for worse, has been the Penn State QB1 since 2019, and rightfully so. This season, Clifford started all 12 games of the year, finishing up his college career with a 10-2 record. He threw for 2,543 yards, 22 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He also ran for 177 yards and five touchdowns.
What a way to finish up his career by winning the Rose Bowl. Clifford had an incredible day and was able to give himself the perfect storybook ending to his collegiate career. Clifford completed 16 of his 21 pass attempts and threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns, before being taken out at the end of the fourth quarter in a “passing of the torch” moment.
Clifford threw an incredible 88-yard touchdown pass to Ke’Andre Lambert-Smith to kick off the fourth quarter, extending the Penn State lead to 28-14 and essentially putting the game out of reach. We here at Victory Bell Rings wish Sean Clifford lots of luck in his future in the NFL. What’s up, Drew Allar?
Defense: Ji’Ayir Brown, S
Penn State safety, Ji’Ayir Brown, had himself an incredible final game in his college football career. Brown, who transferred to Penn State in 2020, played three seasons as a Nittany Lion. When he first came to Penn State, Brown served as a backup until 2021 when he became a starter.
This season, Brown had arguably his best. He finished the year with 66 total tackles off of 50 solos, and 16 assists. Brown also managed to pick up three sacks, two forced fumbles, four passes defended, one fumble recovery, and three interceptions.
Tonight, Brown capped off his career with Penn State with another great showing. Brown picked up two total tackles off of one solo and one assist, and one pass defended. However, Brown also managed to pick up one of the biggest defensive plays of the game.
In the middle of the third quarter, Utah was driving down the field hoping to tie the game at 21. However, Brown came up with a massive interception to stop their momentum. Brown would return the interception for 22 yards before being taken down at Penn State’s 42-yard-line.
Special Teams: Barney Amor, P
Also, playing in his final game of college football was the special teams beast of a punter, Barney Amor. Amor had a heck of a season, kicking 49 punts in total for 2,159 yards. He averaged 44.1 yards per punt and had a long of 59 yards this season… until today.
In today’s Rose Bowl game, Amor punted five times. He tallied 232 yards, one touchback, and averaged 46.4 yards per punt in today’s game. However, most impressively, Amor’s longest punt of the game was 60 yards, tying his career-long from 2019.
Amor also managed to get 2 punts inside the 20-yard line, and more than did his job on the special teams unit to ensure a Nittany Lions victory.