Key Matchup: Sean Clifford vs. Ohio State's Secondary

By Michael Stanley on October 29, 2020 at 9:07 am
Sean Clifford
247Sports
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Penn State only gave up 186 yards to Indiana in regulation. How does a team with 186 yards, 75 of which came on the final drive in regulation, score 28 points?

Turnovers.

Sean Clifford threw two interceptions backed up into Penn State territory that led to 10 points on ensuing drives of 22 yards and 4 yards. Both interceptions were blatant overthrows and neither "forced" by the Indiana defense. While far from the only issues in that game for Penn State, Clifford has to avoid those sorts of mistakes if it has any hope of beating Ohio State.

Admittedly, Clifford found a sort of groove in the second half. He made some nice throws, showed off his legs, and hit a beautiful deep pass to Jahan Dotson for a touchdown. If that version of Clifford can avoid the early game yips, Penn State has a shot. But those holes aren't something Penn State will be able to dig themselves out of against a team like Ohio State.

Unfortunately, Ohio State's secondary will give Clifford even less margin for error than Indiana. Headlined by pre-season All-American Shaun Wade, the Buckeyes once again have an outstanding set of corners. On the other side, they have a slew of former five-star and high four-star corners to turn to, and given their track record, it's a safe bet one of them is a superstar in the making. For now, former four-star Sevyn Banks is the starter opposite Wade.

With Justin Fields at the helm, Ohio State will score points against any defense in the country. Penn State will do a decent job on the defensive side of the ball, but this game will come down to whether Penn State can keep up on offense. If Clifford can make plays with his legs and hit the deep ball when it's available, like he did in the second half against Indiana, we'll have a real game on our hands on Saturday.

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