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Gut reactions to Penn State’s Rose Bowl win over Utah

Yet again, Penn State football sits at 11-2 and will finish in the top-10.



Jan 2, 2023; Pasadena, California, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Nicholas Singleton (10) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against the Utah Utes in the 109th Rose Bowl game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Monday evening, Penn State football brought home yet another 11-win season and a New Year’s Six win. This time, the Nittany Lions escaped Pasadena with a 35-21 win over No. 8 Utah and will bring a Rose Bowl trophy to State College for the first time since 1995.

Penn State is breaking trends

All season long, the Nittany Lions have been breaking previous trends. In years past, Penn State football consistently would blow games in big moments, lose to lesser opponents, and blow games against top-10 competition.

So far this year, many of these trends are no more. That is not to say Penn State broke every trend by much — the Lions still lost to No. 2 Michigan and No. 4 Ohio State — but I will give credit where it is due. After Penn State’s 4-5 season in 2020 and 7-6 season in 2021, many thought that Penn State’s previous success under James Franklin was simply lucky.

Despite the two losses to College Football Playoff (CFP) teams, Penn State still managed to finish the year 10-2 and receive a Rose Bowl bid. To many people’s surprise, the Nittany Lions managed to beat everyone they were favored against; in fact, many of these games were blowout wins, which is also new for Franklin and Co.

Since 2016, Penn State football has one top-10 win: tonight’s victory over No. 8 Utah. Before tonight, Franklin had only notched two top-10 wins: No. 2 Ohio State (2016) and No. 6 Wisconsin (2016). Penn State also responded to both of its losses with a blowout win, which is simply unheard of in the James Franklin era.

The Rose Bowl win was just another example of the Nittany Lions’ ability to break these devastating trends. More than anything, this is a great sign for Penn State’s future in 2023 and beyond.

Nick Singleton is going to be a problem

I am not telling you anything that you don’t already know, but Nick Singleton is going to be an issue for the Big Ten going forward. The Nittany Lions’ true freshman running back has been giving everyone fits all season long, and against the PAC-12 Champions, the story was no different.

In his freshman season (13 games) Singleton carried the football 149 times for 941 yards and 10 touchdowns. In Penn State’s bowl win, Singleton carried the ball seven times for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Just as we have seen all year long, much of Penn State’s success can be attributed to Nick Singleton’s tough running.

This team is going to be scary good in 2023

The 2022 season was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Penn State football. If 11-2 with a Rose Bowl victory is rebuilding, watch out for the Nittany Lions in 2023.

While the Clifford era had its moments, I suspect that the Drew Allar era will be even better in State College. The Nittany Lions are stacked with young talent on both sides of the ball, and should be eying a Big Ten Championship within the next three years.

There is no excuse for Penn State to not be in the mix for the Big Ten and a CFP spot for the next few years, and after tonight, I am confident that the Nittany Lions can get there.

What a way to send Sean Clifford off

Since 2019, Penn State fans have watched with joy and in horror as Sean Clifford continued to take the field as the Nittany Lions’ starter. Now, after six years of college football, Clifford has finished off his college career.

While he has seen his ups and downs, Clifford has always put his best foot forward and given Penn State his all. I cannot think of a better way to send off the Nittany Lions’ all-time leading passer than with a dominant win in the Rose Bowl.

Clifford will finish his college career as Penn State’s all-time leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions, completion percentage, and wins. Whether you love him or hate him, Sean Clifford is a Penn State football legend.

PSU football is back

As I said earlier, many speculated that Penn State’s reign of dominance had come to a close after the 2021 season. From 2016-2019 it seemed as if the Nittany Lions were trending towards being one of the nation’s elite, and Penn State was undoubtedly a top-10 program.

From 2016-19 Penn State won a Big Ten Championship, two New Year’s Six games, had three 11-win seasons, and one nine-win season. In 2020, all of that changed as Penn State saw its first losing season in nearly two decades.

In 2021, injuries derailed PSU’s season and saw the Nittany Lions finish 7-6 with a 24-10 loss in the Outback Bowl to Arkansas. The 11-11 record from 2020-21 gave fans and national media little hope; however, James Franklin and his Nittany Lions are officially back. Once again, Penn State football will finish with 11 wins and a New Year’s Six trophy — this time, a trail of roses will follow the Lions back to State College.

What a way to cap off a fantastic season of Penn State football. We’re glad it came, sad it’s over, and are already looking forward to the next one.


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