No. 11 Penn State rode in the second half en route to a 35-21 win over No. 8 Utah in the Rose Bowl with big plays to 21 straight points.
With the two teams tied 14-14 at halftime, PSU freshman running back Nick Singleton broke up an 87-yard streak to give the Nittany Lions a seven-seven lead in the third quarter.
Less than 10 minutes later, QB Sean Clifford found WR KeAndre Lambert-Smith behind the entire Utah secondary for an 88-yard touchdown. The longest passing game in Rose Bowl history gave Penn State (11-2) a two-TD lead unassailable for a Utah team that lost Cameron Rising for the second straight Rose Bowl.
The Utah QB exited the 2022 Rose Bowl against Ohio State after suffering a concussion when his head hit the turf a year ago. Monday night, Rising went down with an apparent left knee injury after being tackled by four Penn State players while running on a first down. Rising already had a brace on that knee and immediately collapsed to the ground after getting up from the punch and trying to put weight on his leg.
As he was a season ago, Rising was replaced by backup QB Bryson Barnes. But Utah’s offense had no juice in play with Barnes. Penn State removed any doubt about the outcome just minutes after Lambert-Smith’s TD when Kaytron Allen hit a 1-yard TD run for a three-TD lead.
Rising headed to the locker room after his knee injury and returned to the sidelines midway through the fourth quarter in a hoodie and sweatpants.
The win is Penn State’s second Rose Bowl win in five appearances. The Nittany Lions’ only Rose Bowl win before Monday came in 1995 when they defeated Oregon 38-20. Penn State last appeared in the Rose Bowl in 2017 when they lost an epic 52-49 thriller to USC.
Utah tied the game in the second quarter on Ja’Quinden Jackson’s 19-yard TD run. But the Utes ran out of time on their last drive before halftime, and they made punt, interception, punt, punt and turnover on downs before scoring a TD in under 30 seconds.
The story goes on
Sean Clifford walks out with a win
The longtime Penn State starter played one of the best games of his career on Monday. Clifford finished the game with 16 of 21 passes for 279 yards and two TDs, becoming the highest-grossing QB in Penn State history.
The four-year starter took over as Penn State’s primary QB early in the 2019 season and has had a solid, if not spectacular, career. Clifford never threw more than 10 interceptions in any of his four seasons as a starter, nor did he ever throw more than 24 TDs in a single season while completing 61% of his career pass attempts.
Monday’s win was the 32nd win with Clifford under middle and the second time Penn State had won 11 games in a season during his time with the school. With Clifford leaving Penn State at the end of the season, highly acclaimed freshman Drew Allar is the favorite to take over the starting XI.
Allar was a four-star recruit according to Rivals and the No. 5 pro QB in the class of 2022. With Singleton proving to be one of the best running backs in the Big Ten and the possibility of a wide or two Adding receivers in the transfer portal should Penn State’s offense not step back at all in 2023.
Utah is targeting a third straight Pac-12 title in 2023
The Utes returned to the Rose Bowl after defeating USC for the Pac-12 title. And Rising wasn’t the only key member of the offensive line missing from at least part of the game. Star tight end Dalton Kincaid did not play in the game while preparing for the NFL draft. Kincaid led the Utes with 70 catches for 890 yards and eight touchdowns.
Rising has one more year of eligibility to play, although it’s unclear if he’ll use it in 2023. If he does, he’ll join an already impressive list of QBs in the Pac-12 next season. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams will be back for his second season at USC, Oregon’s Bo Nix is also making a return, as is Washington’s Michael Penix. Oregon State added Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei to the transfer portal and Notre Dame’s Drew Pyne was transferred to Arizona State. Jackson State’s Shedeur Sanders will also attend the conference after following his father Deion to Colorado.
Penn State’s Nick Singleton scored on that 87-yard streak in the third quarter of the Rose Bowl. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)