By Andre Monroe
Saturday’s matchup marks the 38th time Penn State will play against Ohio State, but the last for Sean Clifford. Clifford, who grew up in Ohio playing quarterback at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, is well aware of the tradition around Ohio State football.
“It’s very similar here to Penn State when it comes to the passion of the fans and how important football is to them,” Clifford said.
Penn State has yet to be able to defeat Ohio State during Clifford’s tenure, however. Like he has all season, Clifford preached “living in the moment” instead of diving into the emotions of playing his last games against a Big Ten rival like Ohio State.
Sean Clifford has had many big games in his collegiate career. The latest, a white-out win against Minnesota on Saturday. But a game against the elites of the Big Ten is different for Penn State. We saw this recently in an emotional battle against Michigan, one that saw a halftime incident that is still being discussed weeks after. However, Sean Clifford has remained tight-lipped regarding the emotions of playing against these teams for the last time.
“You just take it as strictly business,” Clifford said. “When you’re in the moment you gotta focus and have that mentality to win…. but at the same time I’m very appreciative of the games I’ve been in.”
James Franklin has preached the 1-0 mentality to his team, but there is no doubt the Nittany Lions will approach its upcoming game against the Buckeyes with a heightened tenacity.
Despite the effort, Penn State failed to overcome Michigan in its matchup earlier this year. The last time they beat Ohio State was in 2016, before Sean Clifford arrived. This is yet another opportunity for Penn State to prove they are on the cusp of “elite status” in the Big Ten, and while he may not admit it, this is one of Clifford’s last opportunities to add to his collegiate legacy.
Andre Monroe covers Penn State Football for Insider Institute. Follow him on Twitter @amonroe_ and Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.