Michigan Wolverines, Penn State Nittany Lions play to stay in playoff hunt


Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Sean Clifford looks forward to watching himself on tape more and more each week.

It is one of the perks of being Penn State’s starting quarterback. It is also part of the burden.

“I think each week you’ve got to find something to critique yourself about,” Clifford said.

Clifford knows he must improve if the No. 7 Nittany Lions (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) want to keep their winning streak going today against No. 16 Michigan (5-1, 3-1) and stay in the hunt for a College Football Playoff berth.

Until last week against Iowa, the first-year starter had looked unflappable. Clifford is completing 64% of his passes and has thrown 13 touchdowns with just two interceptions. His running ability has been on display, too. Clifford leads the team with 59 carries and is second with 252 rushing yards.

But in Iowa City, Clifford ran into some trouble during the primetime showdown with the Hawkeyes. It was the first time Clifford failed to throw for at least 200 yards, but Penn State won 17-12.

That could prove tougher against the Wolverines.

Michigan has the nation’s 14th-ranked defense that is ninth against the pass. Michigan has 16 sacks among its 31 tackles for loss over the last three games.

“He’s a good quarterback,” Michigan linebacker Khaleke Hudson said. “He’s got good accuracy. He’s got good scrambling ability. You can tell that he trusts the players around him. He gives his receivers chances to go up and get the ball and they’ve got good receivers to do that for them.”