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Clifford recovers from flu, expected to start Saturday

Following are the highlights of James Franklin’s Tuesday press conference:

Saturday’s game: at Michigan State (3:30 p.m., ABC)

Records: Penn State (7-4 overall, 4-4 in Big Ten), Michigan State (9-2, 6-2)

Main storyline: Franklin deflected questions about the contract extension he was expected to receive, which was announced later Tuesday (see related story, Page A1).

QB update: Franklin said quarterback Sean Clifford, who missed most of the Rutgers game with the flu, was expected back at practice Tuesday along with several other starters who were sidelined. “I thought Sean had his best week of practice before getting sick,” Franklin said. Though true freshman backup Christian Veilleux threw for 235 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, Franklin said the plan is to “go back to the rotation we had.” The flu affected nearly two dozen players, Franklin said. Others who were out last week and are expected back include offensive linemen Mike Miranda and Caeden Wallace and linebacker Curtis Jacobs. Franklin said he thinks the team has been affected by “vaccine fatigue” and “it would obviously help if more guys got the flu shot.”

Sparty outlook: Michigan State’s outstanding season took a major hit last week as the Spartans lost at Ohio State, 56-7. They were down 49-0 at halftime. Franklin said, either way, a rout or a “close loss that people feel you should have won, against a good team — you have to bounce back.” He said Kenneth Walker, the Wake Forest transfer who leads the Big Ten with 1,500-plus yards — nearly 500 more than anybody else — “may be the best running back in the country.” He said the Spartans’ offense has been explosive, and “they’ve run a bunch of flea flickers.”

Quick hitters

n Injured defensive tackle PJ Mustipher told the media Tuesday he’s still weighing his future options on whether he’ll return or go to the NFL, where his brother is a center with the Chicago Bears.

n Franklin has misspoken several times this year, calling Ohio State “Illinois” and the Horseshoe “the Big House.” On Tuesday, in talking about the Lions’ penalties, he referred to Rutgers as “Temple.”

n In a lighter moment of the press conference, Franklin was asked his favorite Thanksgiving food. His answer? Sweet potato pie.

Compiled by Neil Rudel of the Altoona Mirror. He can be reached at nrudel@altoonamirror.com.

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