Three things to watch…
How Penn State responds to adversity has been a concern among fans throughout much of James Franklins’ tenure. Penn State is 14-16 coming off a loss, with 8 losses to unranked teams. More recently, Penn State is 3-7 coming off a loss in the past two seasons. With a crowded Beaver Stadium decked in white for the White Out, it’s hard to imagine Penn State will come out flat. Still, all eyes are on Penn State leadership starting with head coach James Franklin.
Will Minnesota take the same approach that Michigan did a week ago? After being gashed for 418 rushing yards, the most allowed by a Penn State team since 2013, Penn State faces another dynamic rushing attack. Mohamed Ibrahim is second in the Big Ten in rushing yards and touchdowns. While he’s missed time with an injury, he returned last week and ran for 127 yards and touchdown against the conference top run defense in Illinois. Ibrahim presents as big a concern on the ground as Michigan’s Blake Corum. The wild card in all of this could be offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca who coached a season at Penn State under James Franklin. That familiarity could prove valuable.
Who will play quarterback Saturday? This is not just a Penn State question. Both starting quarterbacks Sean Clifford and Tanner Morgan left their respective week 7 matchups. Both are questionable for Saturday. While Minnesota would probably rather not start freshman Athan Kaliakmanis, the jury is split in Happy Valley on Drew Allar. While James Franklin continues to back his sixth year senior, fans continue to call for the five star freshman to start, and given Clifford’s injury, Saturday could give Penn State an opportunity to test the waters without making waves.