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PENN STATE MEETS VILLANOVA FOR IN-STATE BATTLE

• OPENING KICK: No. 6/8 Penn State welcomes Villanova on Saturday in Beaver Stadium to complete the non-conference portion of the 2021 season, presented by PSECU. Kickoff is set for Noon ET
• SERIES HISTORY: The Nittany Lions will meet Villanova for the first time since 1951. Penn State is 5-3-1 all-time against the Wildcats. The series began in 1902 with a Penn State 32-0 win. The Nittany Lions won five of the first six matchups in the series, the other being a tie. However, Villanova owns the last three wins in the series, dating back to 1936.
• PENN STATE VS. PENNSYLVANIA SCHOOLS: Penn State is 170-96-12 all-time against current FBS and FCS Pennsylvania programs. The Nittany Lions have won four-straight games against Pennsylvania opponents. Penn State has won 18-straight home games against Pennsylvania programs, dating back to a 42-3 win over Temple on September 16, 1989.
• TOUGH IN THE RED ZONE: The Nittany Lions held Auburn to two-of-three inside the red zone on Saturday. On 11 opponent trips inside the red zone, Penn State has kept teams from scoring on five occasions. Penn State has forced three takeaways, a turnover on downs and blocked a field goal.
• DOTSON EXTENDING STREAKS: Jahan Dotson caught a 4-yard touchdown against Auburn. The senior has a receiving touchdown in each of his last four games and has found the end zone in five straight games, including an 81-yard punt return against Michigan State in 2020. Dotson hauled in 10 receptions against the Tigers, giving him five straight games with at least five receptions. Dotson’s 32-straight games with a reception rank fifth among FBS receivers.
• THE OPPOSITION: Villanova is 3-0 this season. The Wildcats are ranked 11th in the STATS FCS Poll and seventh in the FCS Coaches Poll. Villanova earned a 34-27 win over No. 21/18 Richmond last Saturday. Daniel Smith connected with Rayjoun Pringle for a go-ahead 47-yard touchdown with 38 seconds remaining. The Wildcats gained 480 total yards, including 350 through the air. Smith also rushed for two touchdowns.
 
HEAD COACH MARK FERRANTE

• Mark Ferrante is in his fifth year as head coach at Villanova.
• The Wildcats are 24-18 under Ferrante and made an FCS Playoffs appearance in 2019.
• Ferrante has been on the Villanova staff since 1987, serving as an assistant coach for legendary coach Andy Talley from 1987-2016. Ferrante was the assistant head coach from 1999-2016.
• During his time at Villanova, the Wildcats have made 13 FCS Playoffs appearances, including three appearances in the FCS Semifinals and an FCS National Title in 2009.
• Villanova was 2-2 in an abbreviated Spring 2021 season.
 
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS

• Villanova is 3-0 this season. The Wildcats are coming off a 34-27 win over No. 21/18 Richmond.
• The Wildcats also own wins over Lehigh (47-3) and Bucknell (55-3).
• Villanova is ranked No. 11 in the Stats Perform FCS Poll and No. 7 in the FCS Coaches Poll.
• Villanova has competed well against FBS teams over the last decade, highlighted by a 19-17 win over Temple in 2018.
• The Wildcats forced FBS teams into one-score finishes in 2010 (Temple, 31-24), 2014 (Syracuse, 27-26, 2 OT), 2015 (UConn, 20-15) and 2017 (Temple, 16-13).
• The Wildcats’ offense ranks eighth in the FCS in scoring offense (45.3), 18th in rushing offense (212.7), 19th in total offense (454.7) and fifth in third down conversion percentage (.525).
• Graduate QB Daniel Smith has thrown for 598 yards and sits seventh in the FCS with eight passing touchdowns.
• RB Justin Covington ranks fourth in the FCS with 307 rushing yards, 11th with 102.3 rushing yards per game and ninth with 6.98 yards per carry.
 • Villanova’s defense holds eighth in the FCS in scoring defense (11.0), second in total defense (184.7), third in rushing defense (29.3), 19th in passing defense (155.3) and paces the FCS with eight interceptions.
• Senior DB Christian Benford has four interceptions this season, ranking second in the FCS. He also has three pass breakups.
• LB Forrest Rhyne leads Villanova with 13 tackles.
• LB Amin Black has posted 12 tackles, including three tackles for loss and a sack.
 
AUBURN NOTES

• With wins over No. 12/15 Wisconsin and No. 22/20 Auburn, Penn State has two wins over ranked teams within the first three games of the season for the first time in program history.
• Penn State earned its first regular season win over an SEC team since a road victory at Alabama in 1990 (9-0) and first home win over an SEC team since a 19-17 win against Alabama in 1985.
• Penn State is now 2-1 all-time against Auburn.
• The Nittany Lions moved to 24-23 against current members of the SEC.
• Penn State is now 5-5 when ESPN’s College GameDay is on campus.
• The Nittany Lions are now 7-6 in Penn State White Out games.
• Penn State welcomed 109,958 fans. It was the 10th-largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history.
• LB Brandon Smith was selected Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after recording a career-high 10 tackles and a pass breakup
 
 
QUARTERBACK NOTES

Redshirt senior Sean Clifford is in his third season as Penn State’s starting signal caller, having played in 28 career games, making 23 starts.
• Clifford began the 2021 season on the watch lists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm, Manning Award, Reese’s Senior Bowl and Wuerffel Trophy.
• He is also a nominee for the NFF’s William V. Campbell Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top football scholar athlete, and the Allstate Good Works Team.
• The QB, who owns a 3.45 cumulative GPA, graduated with a degree in public relations in December 2020 and is pursuing a second degree in journalism.
• Against Auburn, Clifford completed a career-high 28 passes, on 32 attempts.
• Per ESPN, Clifford’s 87.5 completion percentage is the highest by a Penn State quarterback in the last 25 years.
• Clifford was named to the Manning Award Stars of the Week and Davey O’Briean Award Great 8 lists.
• Clifford ranks 17th in the country in completion percentage (71.3) and 23rd in completions per game (22.3), sitting third in the Big Ten in both categories.
• Since 2000, Clifford’s 71.3 completion percentage is the highest through three games by a Penn State quarterback since Christian Hackenberg (71.7) in 2013.
• Clifford is just one of seven Penn State players all-time to reach 6,000-plus yards of total offense and one of 10 quarterbacks to reach 5,000 career passing yards.
• Clifford is one of 12 current FBS quarterbacks with over 6,000 total yards and over 5,000 passing yards in his career.
• He currently sits sixth all-time in program history in career total yards (6,318) and fourth in touchdowns responsible for (54).
• The Cincinnati, Ohio native is Penn State’s current all-time leader in passing efficiency rating (147.3) and completion percentage (61.5).
• Additionally, the three-time captain ranks third in yards per attempt (8.2), fourth in passing touchdowns (45), sixth in touchdown percentage (6.71), seventh in completions (413), seventh in passing yardage (5,489), ninth in attempts (671) and 18th in yards per completion (13.3).
• Clifford owns 22 career games with multi-TD passes, including eight with three or more TDs and two with four or more.
• The redshirt senior has tossed multiple touchdowns in a half on 12 occasions and eight different times has thrown multiple touchdowns in a quarter.
• He is fifth in school history for 300-yard passing games (3) and sixth for 200-yard games (14).
• Clifford owns five career games with at least 250 passing yards and three passing touchdowns.
• The quarterback has tossed four career touchdowns of 70-plus yards and has completed 70 career passes of 20 or more yards.
• With a 49-yard TD strike to Jahan Dotson in the win at Wisconsin, Clifford brought his career TD pass total of 40-plus yards to 11.
• Among Penn State quarterbacks, he is third all-time in rushing yardage (829) and eighth in rushing touchdowns (9).
• Redshirt sophomore Ta’Quan Roberson completed his first pass as a Nittany Lion against Ball State, a 23-yard touchdown strike to TE Theo Johnson.
• Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich also heads the Penn State quarterback room.
• Three quarterbacks Yurcich coached in college are currently on NFL rosters (Sam Ehlinger – Texas, Justin Fields – Ohio State, Mason Rudolph – Oklahoma State).
• Under Yurcich’s guidance in 2020, Ehlinger tossed a Big 12-leading 25 touchdowns for Texas.
• Yurcich served as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State in 2019, where quarterback Justin Fields was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and Davey O’Brien Award.
 

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