When I turned on the game and saw the weather, my first thought was that it’s always something with Michigan State! Remember when Michigan State was traditionally our season-ender? You'd end up frozen in Beaver Stadium with no more hot chocolate to be found and snowblowers required to see the goal line. Two years ago there was that weird three-hour-plus lightning delay. Foul weather has a way of leveling the playing field and helping out the underdog. The downpour on Saturday only added to the growing list of traps.
One of our best players fumbles the ball on the very first play of the game! Thankfully he recovered it but only for us to go three and out. Then Michigan State goes three and out and now I’m thinking this is how it’s going to be. A muddy mess. A gridlocked battle of Big Ten defenses. A potential torrential disaster.
What sweet relief as the game unfolded into a well-managed, winning treat. Sean Clifford threw for four touchdowns, three of which found Pat Freiermuth. The defense had another huge game. Jayson Oweh sacked the QB twice and forced a fumble. Micah Parson was everywhere. Marquis Wilson and Jaquan Brisker snagged an interception each. Shaka Toney blocked a field goal. The lead was never in jeopardy.
There were mistakes as well, obviously. The fumble I mentioned. Clifford’s interception. A penalty that took KJ Hamler’s touchdown punt return off the board. Three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, including the ejection of Antonio Shelton, are the most significant mistakes to me; I do believe Franklin values our Penn State ideals so there’s nothing to be done except to let the coach handle it. With two weeks until our next game, I expect Franklin and his staff will have time to handle all the mistakes made in the Michigan mud.
Two weeks until we match up with 8-0 Minnesota. The tricks and traps of this season are far from over but it’s been a treat to watch our team rise to each challenge.