After a slow start in the opening half on Saturday, the Nittany Lions turned it on over the final 30 minutes en route to a 45-13 blowout victory over Buffalo. Players on both sides of the ball stepped up to ignite the second half rally, and our staff had a few different guys in mind for the Penn State MVP.
Craig Fritz: Despite pulseless results in the first half, the sophomore never lost his composure and steadily led the Lions to an absolutely dominating second half. He connected on nearly 73% of his passes, and his 58-yard run was pretty sweet too.
Nick Polak: I considered Jahan Dotson and Pat Freiermuth, but Clifford was excellent on Saturday. As you’ll see in the Passing Chart, he had only 3 incompletions that were his fault (3 drops) plus 58-yard dash down the sideline. He still has plenty of work to do as far as making the correct reads at the right time, but he was great against Buffalo.
Matt de Bear: Sure, John Reid had the play of the game to ignite the second half blowout, but Clifford really put the offense on his back. His first touchdown pass to Freiermuth created some breathing room for the Lions, and his 58-yard dash down the sideline to set up Penn State's fourth score were the big plays Penn State needed to get the offense on track.
Dan Smith: Penn State was clearly better than Buffalo, but the longer that game remained close, the more likely it was that the young Nittany Lions would begin pressing. Reid took the pressure off of his teammates in a big way, and was by far the best player in a secondary that otherwise had some struggles Saturday.
Barry Leonard: Reid has himself a game Saturday night. He made plays all over the field and his pick-six with the Nittany Lions struggling in the third quarter saved the day.
Kevin Fay: Just when Penn State needed a jolt, he jumped a route and took it back for six. Up until that point, the defense really struggled to get off the field. This was ultimately the turning point in a game that ended up making us all more nervous than it should have.
Jarrod Prugar: Dotson showed considerable improvement from year one to year two with his performance Saturday night. He also showed why he and KJ Hamler could be quite the 1-2 combo out wide for PSU.
John Morgan: His first touchdown was pretty easy, but on the second he flashed his athleticism. I was torn between him and Clifford, but an eight catch night when Buffalo was focused on the run was key to the huge third quarter.