EditorsNote: Slight changes to 3rd and 4th grafs; corrects details in 7th graf
After back-to-back primetime victories, there was some concern No. 6 Penn State might be in store for a letdown on Saturday against Michigan State at East Lansing, Mich.
It didn’t take long for the Nittany Lions to squash those concerns, as sophomore quarterback Sean Clifford threw four touchdown passes, including three to sophomore tight end Pat Freiermuth, to lead Penn State to a 28-7 victory at a soggy Spartan Stadium.
Clifford finished 18-for-32 for 189 yards, the four scores and an interception to lead the Nittany Lions (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten), who had lost five of six in the series, including the last two. Freiermuth had five catches for 60 yards, while sophomore KJ Hamler had five receptions for 57 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Michigan State (4-4, 2-3) has lost three straight, all against top-10 opponents. Freshman Anthony Williams had the lone score for the Spartans, scoring on a 4-yard run in the third quarter.
Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke completed 16 of 34 passes for 165 yards and one interception.
Penn State struck first when Clifford hit Freiermuth with 16-yard touchdown pass over flat-footed Michigan State defenders, giving the Nittany Lions a 7-0 lead with 6:54 left in the first quarter. Penn State’s next drive was aided by a third-down defensive holding on Michigan State and concluded with Freiermuth catching a Clifford pass inside the 5-yard line and dragging tacklers into the end zone for a 19-yard score and 13-0 lead after the extra point was missed.
Michigan State followed two possessions later with its best drive of the half, but it stalled when Matt Coghlin’s 46-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by Penn State’s Shaka Toney. The Nittany Lions then marched 54 yards on eight plays to extend their lead on a 27-yard strike from Clifford to Hamler. Clifford then ran in the two-point conversion to give Penn State a 21-0 lead.
Penn State extended the lead to 28-0 with 10:10 left in the third quarter on Freiermuth’s third score, a 6-yard reception. It came after Michigan State’s Brandon Sowards fumbled a punt at his own 6-yard line.
Michigan State managed to get on the board later in the third quarter after a 49-yard pass from Lewerke to Cody White got the ball to the Penn State 4. Two plays later, Williams scored his first career touchdown.
—Field Level Media