EAST LANSING, Mich. - Daryll Clark was still in bed Saturday morning watching ESPN when analyst Todd McShay popped on the screen and began discussing quarterback play.
McShay promptly called Clark "an interception machine."
"I was like, 'man, that's kind of messed up,''' Clark said. "I thought it was a low blow. I was upset, really upset, but I couldn't let it affect me."
Clark kept his emotions in check - "you can't play quarterback angry," he said - and he led the Nittany Lions to a 42-14 victory over Michigan State in arguably their most impressive performance of the season.
In shaking off a slow start to wind up 19 of 27 for 310 yards and four touchdowns, Clark etched his name in the Penn State record book by becoming the all-time leader in single-season yardage (2,770), single-season touchdown passes (23) and career TD passes (42).
As usual, Clark accepted the accolades with humility.
CAREER TD PASSES
1. Daryll Clark (2008-09).42
2. Todd Blackledge (1980-82).41
2. Tony Sacca (1988-91).41
2. Zack Mills (2001-04)..41
3. Kerry Collins (1991-94)39
4. Chuck Fusina (1976-78)37
SEASON TD PASSES
1. Daryll Clark (2009)..23
2. Todd Blackledge (1982)22
3. Tony Sacca (1991).21
3. Kerry Collins (1994).21
4. Doug Strang (1983).19
1. Daryll Clark (2009).2,770
2. Kerry Collins (1994).2,679
3. Anthony Morelli (2007)2,651
4. Daryll Clark (2008) 2,592
5. Tony Sacca (1991) 2,488
"They definitely mean a lot to me," he said in the trailer outside Spartan Stadium that doubles as the visitors' media room. "Kerry Collins was a very good player, and for me to surpass him [in season yardage] is special. But I've been blessed with a great group of guys and coaches who have made it happen."
Clark was easily more pleased that the Lions kept themselves in consideration for a berth in the Bowl Championship Series and assured themselves of a second-straight season with 10 or more victories.
"After last week [against Indiana], to come out and play this way, on the road, the last game of the season, it really feels good," he said.
NCAA statistics are kept differently than they used to be. The teams of the 1970s and 1980s only played 11 regular-season games, and bowl games weren't included. Now the teams play 12 games and bowl stats are counted.
In that regard, it's tough to compare Clark to Collins and Todd Blackledge and Chuck Fusina. Each quarterbacked the Lions to an unbeaten season or a berth in the national championship game.
At the same time, the game is bigger, stronger and faster now than it's ever been, and Clark, unlike any of his predecessors, has only been a two-year starter.
Whether he ever takes an NFL snap - and, despite what McShay suggests, he'll at least be in somebody's camp, as a draftee or a free agent - Clark can surely feel good about being 21-4 as a PSU starter.
There are a whole lot of former Nittany Lion quarterbacks that can't claim that.
"Daryll's gotten a lot of criticism because he hasn't won in the quote-unquote big game or played well," quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said. "[But] last year Michigan State came in and we were tied for the conference championship, and he threw for a zillion yards. Oregon State [he played well]. We went to Wisconsin and won, and we beat Michigan for the first time in a while. He's done a lot of things."
Clark was sacked four times Saturday and took a while to get going, but when the Lions needed him most, when they opened up the offense, he was more than up to the challenge, completing all eight of his second-half throws for 147 yards and three scores.
"He's lost, what, four games in two years?" Joe Paterno said. "The kid's a darned good quarterback."
The coaching staff helped Clark against the defenseless Spartans. Unveiling speedy Curtis Drake has helped back off the defense plus the Lions used routes to the fullback and the tight end up the sidelines that picked apart Michigan State.
Clark admitted a couple of the plays were gimmicks and smiled when asked if he likes them.
"When they work," he said.
Regular-season losses at Penn State aren't easily forgotten, and Clark readily admits the Iowa game "is definitely the one I'd like to have back."
At the same time, he's looking ahead at a strong opponent in a bowl game - the Orange, Fiesta or Capital One.
"To go through the ups and downs of the season and end it this way means a lot," he said. "I'm very fortunate to be around a great group of guys who have made plays. Without them, my name may not even be mentioned. I'm very proud of this football team."
And it is proud of him.
Regardless of what Todd McShay says.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.