Clifford Feeling Good, Franklin Notes Loyalty, Stoll Excited for Return Ahead of Ohio State Weekend
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- For the second year in a row, Penn State heads into its matchup with Ohio State after a loss and 15 spots in the AP Poll behind the Buckeyes.
But this time, even more burdens are on the Nittany Lions’ back. The blue and white come in with two losses instead of one.
The game is in Columbus under the lights. Quarterback Sean Clifford’s ability may be limited due to pain, and head coach James Franklin’s future is unknown after hiring a new agent on Tuesday.
What hasn’t changed much is Ohio State’s offense -- it’s the highest-scoring in the Big Ten for the second straight year.
Clifford knows he’s never beaten the Buckeyes, and that they may be tougher now than ever, but at Wednesday’s practice he said the 1-0 mentality remains - especially because he believes he’ll be 100% for Saturday.
And while he said he was disappointed with last week’s loss, he knows his team isn’t giving up now as the perseverance remains.
“We’ve had an extreme commitment from the jump… even though we’ve had these two hiccups,” Clifford said. “There’s not been a lack in work ethic [going into this game].”
Clifford’s status wasn’t the only one questioned by the media at practice. Franklin’s future with the program is in the air after he confirmed Tuesday that he changed agents amidst speculation of him moving on to USC.
Franklin didn’t deny any rumors on Wednesday, and he said he wished he could share his thought process with members of the media “over a beer” some day, but for now he’s focused on the present and the team he has in front of him.
“I am fiercely loyal to Penn State, to these players, to this staff,” Franklin said, “but there’s a lot of moving parts. … But at some point when it’s appropriate, I would love to sit down with [media members] and just kind of talk through college football [and] talk through these circumstances in these situations that come up.”
Clifford mentioned his excitement of playing in Columbus, as friends and family from his hometown Cincinnati will be in attendance for the game. But he’s not the only Nittany Lion who’s going home.
Redshirt senior long snapper Chris Stoll grew up in Westerville, Ohio, just twenty minutes outside of Columbus. He admitted he was an Ohio State fan up until he committed to the blue and white, but he said he’ll have an extra chip on his shoulder playing in front of many familiar faces, like his parents, sister, relatives and buddies.
“Whenever I go home and see a bunch of [my friends], they always give me crap,” Stoll said. “Hopefully, I can get some bragging rights by going 1-0 this week.”
Penn State will look to win in Columbus for the first time since 2011.
Jack McCune is a fourth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.