LOS ANGELES — Normally, the Rose Bowl stadium is bustling from the noise of fans wearing blue and gold as they cheer on the UCLA Bruins. However, spectators wearing dark blue and white are packing the stands this Jan. They roar, ‘we are Penn State,’ as they take over one of college football’s crown jewels.
First, on Jan. 2, the Penn State Nittany Lions won the Rose Bowl Game, defeating the Utah Utes, 35-21. Leading their effort was a four-year starter, Sean Clifford. As they won, in a crowd of mostly Utes fans, the Nittany Lions’ supporters were the only ones who could be heard.
“Constant support [from the Nittany Lions’] fans,” Clifford said. “It is never ending… The best fanbase in the country.”
He threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns in the game.
Many teams win the Rose Bowl Game in Jan. Well, one team wins yearly. However, what Sean Clifford has done this month is unique; he has won in the Rose Bowl stadium twice. Today, he did it as a part of the American Team, claiming victory in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl over the National Team, 19-17.
“It’s something about the Rose Bowl. Something about [Los Angeles],” Clifford said. “Just love every bit of it and a lot of fun being out with [my teammates] this week and glad we could get the win.”
Clifford helped push his team to victory by throwing for 77 yards. Notably, he found wide receiver Xavier Gipson down the sideline for a 48-yard gain.
Clifford won the game while representing the Nittany Lions on his helmet. And he thought about his Rose Bowl Game win while doing so; he had a sticker from the game on his helmet as he wore it for the final time.
“Crazy,” Clifford said. “It is always ‘we are.’ It has been such a great family for me…Could not thank the Penn State family enough. Glad I could represent with one more win again in the Rose Bowl again. Two-for-two.”
Winning is a constant for Clifford. However, one difference for him since the Rose Bowl Game is that he is sporting a freshly trimmed beard, as his girlfriend and mother requested. The cut beard marks a new beginning for him, one with the NFL, not the Nittany Lions.
Clifford was ranked as a four-star recruit out of high school and battled adversity while playing for the them. He fought in many games there, but after closing on a high note, he will continue to train in Florida as he prepares for the NFL Draft.