Game Preview: The Return of Fans Could Make a Big Impact as Penn State Heads to Wisconsin
A brand new season is right on the horizon for Penn State.
The Nittany Lions travel to Madison Saturday to face the No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers at noon in what should be a very competitive matchup.
The blue and white are looking to continue the hot streak from the end of last season in which it won its last four games of the season. During that time, the Nittany Lions found their form offensively as they averaged just over 36 points per game.
Quarterback Sean Clifford will be opening up his senior season against a Wisconsin defense which was one of the best in the country last season. The Badgers only allowed 20 or more points in a game twice last season, and ended up winning one of those games, in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl against Wake Forest.
Clifford is also looking to bounce back from a rough junior season where he regressed under former offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca; Clifford threw more interceptions despite playing in three less games than in his 2019 season.
Now, working with new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich, Clifford stated that not much has changed in his preparation for Saturday’s game.
“I’m treating this game the same as I’ve treated every other game,” Clifford said. “I’m preparing the same, a little different obviously with a new coach, but just preparing and making sure no stone is unturned and that’s really all that matters cause that’s all I can really do.”
This is the first time Penn State and Wisconsin have matched up since late in the 2018 season with the Nittany Lions getting a 22-10 victory in State College.
Despite being on a roster which still featured KJ Hamler and Pat Friermith, current Nittany Lion Jahan Dotson managed to lead the team with 39 receiving yards.
Jonathan Sutherland also made an impact on the defensive side of the ball during that game with three total tackles.
The big difference for both sides in this game is the return of fans in the stands.
For Penn State, this will be the team’s first game with fans in the stands since its Cotton Bowl win over Memphis where over 54 thousand people were in attendance.
James Franklin knows that Saturday will serve as a celebration of the college football community finally being able to be together to watch the game they love.
“I think there will be some brats and beers, and I think there will be some boos, but I also think there's going to be a bunch of cheers because people have missed college football,” Franklin said. “People have missed getting together as a community. I think that's one of the things that's great about college football, is it brings people together I think like nothing else.”
Penn State’s game against Wisconsin will be followed by a three game homestand back in University Park where the Nittany Lions’ first opponent will be Ball State.
Logan Bourandas is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.