Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On Second Thought


As I reflect on the nightmare that was the Northwestern game this past Saturday, I realize that perhaps my recap was a bit harsh.  At one point I even said something like, "There are no bowls for that kind of effort, unless you count your own toilet bowl."  A bit melodramatic.  It's true . . . I haven't seen that much sucking since I toured the Hoover Vacuum Factory.

The game of football often comes down to a few inches or a couple of plays (or in some cases a couple of freaking seconds on the clock!)  Even as crappy as we played most of the day, we were only down 8 points before the Hackenberg's pick six, that was then followed by his fumble.  That was a nine point swing on basically two plays.  You change two plays against Rutgers or UCF and this team is 2-3.  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, we couldn't make those plays on Saturday.

But the end of the season it is not.  There are a lot of games left to be played, a lot of opponents who have their own issues and struggles, and an exciting group of players who will entertain us later, even if they failed to make us happy in Happy Valley last weekend.

But while it is not the end of the season, it is the end of a perfect season.

Granted, no one expected Penn State to go undefeated.  But be honest.  Didn't the thought cross your mind?  Didn't you start to think that this team could just find a way?  Even down 20-6, didn't you expect Hackenberg to suddenly ignite, do that thing he does with his arm and just start scoring?

Didn't you start to look ahead . . .oh, the wolverines are struggling . . . we could go into the Ohio State game undefeated.  Don't you look away from me.  Look me in the eyes and say you didn't start thinking about it!  Didn't you want it to happen so badly, that your brain started thinking it could happen?  Didn't you want to see Penn State crash the final four party in their first post-sanction season?  Can you imagine the look on Emmert's face when that happened?  Or even some members of our own BOT?

Damn it!  You wanted that to happen!  I know you wanted it.  We all did.  We all wanted to see James Franklin do a Terry Bowden at Auburn impersonation, but actually compete for the mythical national championship instead of a perfect season with an asterisk.

And when it didn't happen, not only were we disappointed that we didn't beat Northwestern, but we were disappointed that we didn't see our dreams come true.  It's only natural to over react and panic.

And then I wonder . . .

Did the players start thinking it?  Coaches talk a great talk about one game at a time.  James Franklin went out of his way to make that point.  Doth the coach protest too much?  Maybe the kids were trying too hard, instead of playing loose and free.  Lifting the sanctions freed this team in one way, but bound us to how important winning each game is now.  They knew they were 4-0.  They saw tape of Northwestern.  You have to live under a rock and have never heard of Geico not to know about the troubles Brady Hoke is having in Ann Arbor.  Those players knew the score!  Yet, they couldn't play hard enough to win.

Multiple people have discussed the game with me, and almost everyone asks why our players weren't playing with the intensity of the Northwestern players?  I can't answer that, but our team enthusiasm did seem to be muted.  We played tight, uncomfortable and tried too hard.  And how can that be with over 100,000 fans, beautiful weather, and the best atmosphere in college football to play a game?  It's almost unfathomable.

One player having a bad day?  Maybe he's catching the flu.  Maybe he had a rough week in classes.  Maybe his girlfriend is giving him crap about something.  Maybe his mom is sick.  Just a usual athletes slump.  Who knows?  But the whole team???  How is that possible?

We all know our offensive line is having troubles, but at what point do these guys get tired of getting pushed around and start pushing back?  Every time your quarterback is hurried, that's your fault.  Don't you want to get up the next play and just hammer the enemy back?   Franklin talks about getting off the bus and going after them.  He talks about determination and playing with a chip on their shoulders. The word swagger was thrown out there.

So where was the swagger last Saturday?  What happened to attacking them as soon as they got off the bus?

I don't know.  But whatever cosmic alignment of forces brought about the complete team failure we saw is unlikely to occur again in this season.  That is not to say they won't lose more games--there are teams that are playing better with full scholarship complements that are simply going to be better than we are, no matter how well we play.  But I still think that Maryland, Illinois, Indiana, and Temple are still winnable games, as well as the trip to Ann Arbor.

 It does seem that every team has their best game against us.  The wolverines were 7-5 in 2005 yet were the only team to beat PSU.  Iowa in 2008 couldn't beat Pitt, but managed to knock us out of #3 in the nation.  But if those same cosmic forces that aligned against us last week choose to align against the buckeyes or the Spartans, then watch out.

Silly me.  We have no chance of winning those games.  The bandwagon fans are already dusting off their 5-7 and 6-6 predictions they hid away after we started 4-0.  Smug they are, now.

But you know and I know that those little doomsday bastards were thinking undefeated season somewhere deep in their puny little gray matters.  They'll never admit it.  They never said it.  They staunchly stand by their dismal predictions.  But deep down, they were just as disappointed as the rest of us.  The difference is they will now revel in being so smart at predicting a bad season.  They are football gurus.  We should bow down and lick their shoes clean.

Personally, I'd rather be disappointed with high expectations, than satisfied with lower ones.  And I don't think I'd like the taste of shoes.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

WildCatastrophe

What in the name of sweet baby JoePa was that????!!!!!

Seriously.  What the [insert word] happened?

Granted, we knew this team had some issues.  The offensive line has been about as good as France when it comes to keeping the enemy out of its territory.  Christian Hackenberg vacillates from Heisman hopeful to blind man chucking acorns at a cat.  Our defense has traditionally (as in so far this season) started slow, allowing most opponents to score early on us or at least move the ball at will early, but has to date closed the door when the freaking door needed closing.  It seemed like they not only left the damned door open Saturday, but put up signs to show the way.

This was a team effort loss, that no missed pass interference penalty could hope to save.  Losing on Homecoming, 29-6?  To Northwestern?  Ugh!

Special teams were anything but special.  A blocked field goal and a long punt return to give the Wildcats a short field were glaringly obvious, but what went through Grant Haley's mind when he tried to run the ball deep out of our endzone on a couple of kick-offs.  This game could have been a lot worse if Northwestern hadn't kept trying to let us back into it, with missed field goals of their own and one decent punt return by Della Valle, and TWO-count em--PATs missed.  And they still won!

This is worse than a 63-14 loss to a top ranked team.  This was an unranked Northwestern team that although they played fired-up and inspired football against us, is a very pedestrian team.  They will be will be lucky to become bowl eligible (and we appear to be in that location as well.) This was a match-up of two mediocre teams and we outmediocred the competition.  There are no bowls for that kind of effort, unless you count your own toilet bowl.

I honestly thought this was going to be a breakout game.  I hedged my prediction, knowing that we had the aforementioned "issues," but I did not see this beat down coming.



I don't know where to begin to pick up the pieces.  Is it simply the sanctions?  Is it coaching?  I really like James Franklin.  I love his style; his energy.  I love his recruiting ability.  But some of his game time decisions leave me scratching my head, although I don't know for sure if he calls the offensive plays or not.  He is not coaching a group of athletes that he recruited, so we must temper that with our criticism.  Sanctions notwithstanding, he started from zero with this team.  But just because the sanctions have vanished in the future, does not change the effect they had on this team to date.

And you can't blame the coach for Hackenberg flat out missing a wide open Belton, or any other of the numerous really bad throws he had.  But one wonders why we didn't see Crook late in the game, when the chance of winning was really beyond what we had time left to do.  Speaking of which, why weren't we going no huddle in the fourth quarter?  We needed scores, and instead were throwing pick sixes and taking our good old time failing at this one.  I actually think Hack plays better in the hurry-up, pressure on, package--in general.

I'm not saying that Northwestern didn't play a good game--so if you are a Wildcat fan, don't get your panties all bunched up.  Ya done good.  Your coach was prepared for this game.  Ours was not, for whatever reason.  And maybe if you keep up that intensity week after week, you'll make me eat my words.  But until then . . .



I'm going to blame this on ourselves.  The only reason we're not 5-0 right now is because we did not execute, did not adapt during the game, failed to capitalize on our opponent's mistakes, and played some of the most uninspired football I have personally witnessed since we lost to Iowa 6-4.  And at least the defense played a great game then!

But this is not a sky is falling rant.  We have another very beatable opponent coming up in the form THEM.  They followed up their epic loss to Utah with an even more epic fail against Minnesota.  Unfortunately, I think we could still outmediocre them as well, but at least we have an extra week to teach blocking, tackling, and kicking.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Per GoPSUsports:

  Team Statistics  
 Team Totals  NU  PSU 
FIRST DOWNS  17  14 
   Rushing 
   Passing  14 
   Penalty 
NET YARDS RUSHING  103  50 
   Rushing Attempts  38  25 
   Average Per Rush  2.7  2.0 
   Rushing Touchdowns 
   Yards Gained Rushing  121  79 
   Yards Lost Rushing  18  29 
NET YARDS PASSING  258  216 
   Completions-Attempts-Int  21-37-1  22-46-1 
   Average Per Attempt  7.0  4.7 
   Average Per Completion  12.3  9.8 
   Passing Touchdowns 
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS  361  266 
   Total offense plays  75  71 
   Average Gain Per Play  4.8  3.7 
Fumbles: Number-Lost  0-0  1-1 
Penalties: Number-Yards  8-75  4-35 
PUNTS-YARDS  6-223  7-250 
   Average Yards Per Punt  37.2  35.7 
   Net Yards Per Punt  26.7  29.7 
   Inside 20 
   50+ Yards 
   Touchbacks 
   Fair catch 
KICKOFFS-YARDS  6-384  3-191 
   Average Yards Per Kickoff  64.0  63.7 
   Net Yards Per Kickoff  44.5  36.7 
   Touchbacks 
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD  1-42-0  2-43-0 
   Average Per Return  42.0  21.5 
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD  2-56-0  4-67-0 
   Average Per Return  28.0  16.8 
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD  1-49-1  1-2-0 
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD  0-0-0  0-0-0 
Miscellaneous Yards  -20 
Possession Time  30:23  29:37 
   1st Quarter  8:58  6:02 
   2nd Quarter  5:46  9:14 
   3rd Quarter  5:52  9:08 
   4th Quarter  9:47  5:13 
Third-Down Conversions  7 of 17  3 of 17 
Fourth-Down Conversions  0 of 2  1 of 4 
Red-Zone Scores-Chances  4-6  1-2 
   Touchdowns  3-6  0-2 
   Field goals  1-6  1-2 
Sacks By: Number-Yards  4-20  1-13 
PAT Kicks  2-4  0-0 
Field Goals  1-2  2-3 
Points off turnovers  18 
Pick a number--any number.  It's bad. I wouldn't even know where to begin.  Oh, we were okay in time of possession!  And we actually held the Wildcats to around a 100 yards rushing.

INTANGIBLES:

The Drum Major stuck both flips, so we got that going for us.

The weather was perfect.

The Alumni Band performed--great to see the combined units playing together!

This is Franklin's first loss.

PSU still owns the all-time record at 13-4.

And just what the hell is with the traffic going through Toftrees???!!!  What a clusterf*ck!  Been going that way for 14 years.  Traffic usually doesn't back up until you go under the 322 underpass going up Fox Hollow Road.  Took me a goddamned hour from getting off the exit on 322 until we got to our parking spot (bumper to bumper from the first golf cart crossing!)  I shouldn't have to leave Altoona earlier than 8 am for a freaking noon game.

The traffic at Toftrees . . .


THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

The Buckeyes struggled early but pulled away from Cincinnati, 50-28.

Likewise, Wisconsin started slow, but beat South Florida 27-10.

MSU soundly defeated Wyoming 56-14.

Rutgers defeated Tulane 31-6.

In conference action . . .

THEM lost to Minnesota 30-14.

Nebraska crushed the Illini 45-14.

Maryland defeated Indiana 37-15.

Purdue Outmediocred Iowa, losing 24-10.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  For the Penn State Alumni--at least the tailgate weather was nice.
2.  For Pitt--losers to Akron 21-10.  Hey, didn't we beat Akron???
3.  Arkansas--lost to 6th ranked Aggies in OT
4.  UMass--lost 47-42 to Bowling Green to go 0-5.
5.  New Mexico State--lost 63-7 to LSU

LOOKING AHEAD:

Bye week.  We're not looking any further than that.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Foe Pause: Catfight Edition

The Northwestern Wildcan'ts are coming to Beaver Stadium, assuming that their flight wasn't cancelled in Chicago.  If it isn't a volcano, it's a fire at a radar facility.

Northwestern is an unimpressive 2-3, but there are those that would argue Penn State's 4-0 record is equally without awe.  I don't know about you, but wins and undefeatedness trumps any lame attempt to compare Cal to Rutgers or Northern Illinois to UCF.

The betting line is 10.5 in favor of the home team.

Penn State pwns the all-time record between these academic institutions with a 13-3 advantage.  (This is obviously a rivalry game!)  It is HOMECOMING for the PSU faithful.  The Lions are 4-0 and looking to take one more step closer to bowl eligibility.


So it doesn't really matter if the Wildcat's show up?  Well, I wouldn't go that far.  Our offensive line still has some proving to do.  Our running game, which hinges on the aforementioned offensive line and its success therein, has yet to prove consistency (other than being consistently non-existent.)  Hack might have a great day.  He might not.  We won't know until about 12:15 tomorrow, or maybe not even until the fourth quarter, say 2:45 give a timeout or two.

The last game versus the men in purple was in Bill O'Brien's first year.  It was also homecoming.  The Lion's trailed by 11 at one point, but scored 22 unanswered points, including a two-point conversion, to win 39-28 in the fourth quarter.  Interestingly, the Wildcan'ts were 5-0 that season going into this game.  It is also the game where Pat Fitzgerald, in a decidedly un-Fitzgerald like moment, mocked Bill O'Brien who was chewing out the refs over a bad PI call, while assistant coaches and players taunted the Beaver Stadium crowd who were cheering The Chin's assault on the myopic refs.  It was not their finest moment, nor their finest game--the Wildcan'ts that is.

So what do we know of this foe?



That just about says it all.

Northwestern is a private institution of higher learning in Evanston, Ill.  Now we could argue until we're purple in the face as to whether it was smart to build anything in Evanston, but it really won't get us anywhere, especially if the planes are still grounded at O'Hare.

Most learned people would agree, that northwestern is a compass direction, not a school.  Compasses were around before colleges.  Just sayin . . .

Their school motto is: Quaecumque sunt vera   which means something in Latin.  (I think it might mean compass for a school.)  They say it means "whatsoever things are true," but who really knows, since Latin hasn't been used as a legitimate language since the Roman Empire.  Worked out well for them, didn't it?

Among their many famous Alumni, is Charlton Heston.  Can any one forget this scene:


In the Big Ten this week:

Michigan State takes on Wyoming.  GO SPARTANS!

THEM opens as an 8.5 point favorite over the gophers.  GO MINNESOTA!  (even though a win by THEM helps our strength of schedule.  I'd also rather the wolverines not have any confidence coming into our match-up if its all the same to you.)

The Hoosiers, coming off an upset of Missouri, are favored by 3 over the Terps.  GO INDIANA!

The Badgers are 33 point favorites over South Florida.  Guess we'll root for Bucky this time!

Rutgers hosts Tulane and is favored by 11.5 points.  Don't like Rutgers, but strength of schedule, baby!  GO KNIGHTS!

Iowa is favored by 13.5 over Purdue.  We don't play either one.  Flip a coin and root for whomever you wish!

The Buckeyes square off against Cincinnati.  GO BEARCATS!  (We screw the strength of schedule argument if it means seeing Urban Meyer lose.  That's priceless.)

The Huskers over the Illini.  GO BIG RED!

In games featuring past opponents:

UMass looks for their first win against Bowling Green.  GO MINUTEMEN!

Akron is a 17.5 point underdog to the panthers.  GO ZIPS!

Prediction:

Penn State wins, 24-10.

GO STATE!  BEAT CATS!

NCAA Meeting

Please Note:  This video is RATED R (sexual language.)  Don't blame me.  I didn't make the video.  But I really enjoyed it!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Weapons of UMass Destruction

On a bright, sunny fall day, Penn State unleashed its weapons of "U"mass destruction on the Minutemen, ending in a 48-7 decision that could have been worse if the back-ups hadn't taken over in the third quarter.  Granted, this wasn't Wisconsin, Alabama, or Oregon we were playing, but I think we got we expected.  The Lions Shock and Awe featured four runners, seven receivers, two quarterbacks, and James Franklin in a pear tree.  What's to complain about?

The score could have been 66-0 without substitutions later in the game.   It would have been more fun to pitch a shut out.  The final score was still respectable and covered the point spread.  In my weekly foe pause, I begged the team not to struggle.  Didn't look good for me in the first quarter, but the slow start was erased as the offense picked up steam.  Field goals became touchdowns.  No turn-overs by the blue and white, and the offensive line gained some confidence.  We won't know until they face better defenses if this has any long term effect.  With the offensive line doing better, the run game did better.  The officiating crew threw no egregious flags or over looked any egregious penalties.  What more could you ask for?

Which begs the question . . .why was there only 99,155 fans?  You can't blame it on the weather.  Unworthy opponent?  Some pundits thought this might be a trap game.  PSU has never played UMass before.  Granted, not as exciting as a game against Ohio State, but a team can't compete at that level every week anyway.  The team needs a game like this now and then.  And Nebraska brought in 91,082 versus McNeese State!  Their capacity is listed at 87,000 on wikipedia with a record crowd of 91,585 against Miami this week.  Look at those numbers again--that's a difference of 503 fans between McNeese State and Miami (FL)!  They apparently aren't "competition snobs" out in Lincoln--they love their team no matter who they play!

Money a problem???  Even if you can't afford season tickets, you could buy single game tickets.  It was a great game to bring the kids--warm weather, fairly family friendly atmosphere (compared to a night game against the Bucks), and a fun game to watch.  In fact I saw more kids and babies (one wearing big pink headphones to block out the crowd noise) at this game than any other I can recall.  Seriously, park your STEP and administrative protests at home and get your butt down to watch these kids play.  They may not be the greatest team in the country, but they are playing their hearts out.  Don't make a statement to the BOT by eschewing this team--make a better statement by showing up and packing the stadium.  Let the BOT know that we fans are a force to be reckoned with!  Make James Franklin smile!

I still can't get over how eerily this team parallels some of the good (and later in the year, I hope to change that to great, but there is still a lot of work to be done yet to earn that adjective) teams of the vintage Paterno era.  A 13-10 victory in primetime against Rutgers.  Winning on a late field goal against UCF as an underdog.  Mounting a comfortable halftime lead against an inferior opponent and then letting the back-ups have some fun and the second string D giving up a meaningless score in garbage time.  It's like Joe has been re-incarnated--his spirit is all over and around this team.

So we came out of this game with no turn-overs, no significant injuries, and a back-up QB that looks like he can fill in if duty calls.  The O-line did better, but needs to keep improving.  This team has a legitimate chance to be undefeated when the Buckeyes come to visit in mid October.  They may even be favored to win the next two games.

BY THE NUMBERS:

  Team Statistics  
 Team Totals  UMASS  PSU 
FIRST DOWNS  13  23 
   Rushing  11 
   Passing  11 
   Penalty 
NET YARDS RUSHING  228 
   Rushing Attempts  28  45 
   Average Per Rush  0.1  5.1 
   Rushing Touchdowns 
   Yards Gained Rushing  59  247 
   Yards Lost Rushing  56  19 
NET YARDS PASSING  263  236 
   Completions-Attempts-Int  17-33-0  18-32-0 
   Average Per Attempt  8.0  7.4 
   Average Per Completion  15.5  13.1 
   Passing Touchdowns 
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS  266  464 
   Total offense plays  61  77 
   Average Gain Per Play  4.4  6.0 
Fumbles: Number-Lost  4-1  0-0 
Penalties: Number-Yards  4-30  6-52 
PUNTS-YARDS  5-191  3-122 
   Average Yards Per Punt  38.2  40.7 
   Net Yards Per Punt  36.8  40.3 
   Inside 20 
   50+ Yards 
   Touchbacks 
   Fair catch 
KICKOFFS-YARDS  2-130  9-576 
   Average Yards Per Kickoff  65.0  64.0 
   Net Yards Per Kickoff  40.0  39.6 
   Touchbacks 
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD  1-1-0  2-7-0 
   Average Per Return  1.0  3.5 
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD  1-20-0  1-25-0 
   Average Per Return  20.0  25.0 
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD  0-0-0  0-0-0 
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD  0-0-0  1-7-0 
Miscellaneous Yards 
Possession Time  22:28  37:32 
   1st Quarter  6:03  8:57 
   2nd Quarter  7:14  7:46 
   3rd Quarter  4:25  10:35 
   4th Quarter  4:46  10:14 
Third-Down Conversions  3 of 13  10 of 17 
Fourth-Down Conversions  1 of 4  1 of 1 
Red-Zone Scores-Chances  0-1  6-6 
   Touchdowns  0-1  5-6 
   Field goals  0-1  1-6 
Sacks By: Number-Yards  2-10  3-25 
PAT Kicks  1-1  6-6 
Field Goals  0-1  2-2 
Points off turnovers  14 


Penn State scored on EIGHT straight possessions after going three and out with a punt on the first possession of the game.

No turn-overs for PSU!

THREE YARDS total for Umass on the ground!  Shoop there it is!

INTANGIBLES:

UMass won the toss and deferred.

The drum major hit both flips--the first perhaps one of the best flips ever.

James Franklin is 4-0 and the first PSU coach to start his career 4-0 since 1915.

Attendance listed at 99,155.  WE CAN DO BETTER!

THE BIG (10) PICTURE:

Who's Hot:

Indiana upset Missouri 31-27.

Nebraska out-slugs Miami 41-31.  Lots of off-setting penalties in that one.

Wisconsin rolled out the barrel all over Bowling Green, 68-17.

Maryland bested Syracuse 34-20, a bit of an upset with the Orange favored by 3.

Rutgers sank Navy 31-24.

Minnesota defeated San Jose State 24-7.

Illinois survived a scare and prevailed 42-35 over Texas State.

Iowa beat Pitt 24-20.

Purdue boiled Southern Illinois 35-13.

The Spartans crushed and spit out the remains of Eastern Michigan, 73-14.

Northwestern defeated Western Illinois 24-7.

Who's Not:

Utah beat THEM 26-10 in a weather delayed game.  They are the only BIG team to lose this week.
Utah fans outnumber the wolverine fans in the Big House after a rain delay!

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  Clemson--loses in OT to #1 F$U after missed field goals and fumbles
2.  LSU--lost to Miss St. 34-29.
3.  Hokies--drop two in a row after beating the Buckeyes
4.  Cal--premature celebration but Arizona comes back on a Hail Mary
5.  K-State-- wasted opportunities to beat Auburn


LOOKING AHEAD:

Northwestern invades Beaver Stadium for a 12 noon start next Saturday.  The Wildcats are coming off a 24-7 win over Western Illinois.  This week is HOMECOMING.

Northwestern opened the season with a 31-24 loss to Cal, and then followed that with a lackluster performance and a loss to Northern Illinois 23-15.

Well pause for a foe pause later this week.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Foe Pause: Can you spare a minute, man? Edition

Penn State opened as a 30 point favorite against the Minutemen of UMass.  The line has dropped since then, but still is better than a 4 TD differential.

In researching this week's foe, I learned something new.  UMass is a MAC team!  I did not know that!  I thought they were FCS, but apparently, they are one of the Big Boys now.  I did not get that Memo!  And they are coming to Beaver Stadium not to go all Appalachian State all over us, but to try and Holy Toledo us.

They look so lonely over there.  B.O. perhaps?


Some have called this a trap game.  Those same people have called the last three games "trap" games.  And Penn State is sitting pretty at 3-0, all footloose and sanction free.

Penn State has never played UMass in football before.  A virgin opponent!

The Minutemen hail from Foxborough, Massachusetts (Gillette Stadium) and are coached by Mark Whipple.  Whipple was a quarterback at Brown.  Who else do we know was a QB for Brown????  Thinking . . . thinking. . . . it'll come to me later.  Whipple was also a QB coach for the Steelers in 2004-6.  Prior to that he was head coach at UMass for 6 years, and has an overall record there as head coach of 49-29, including an 0-3 start to this season.

Please, Don't Squeeze my Team!

The Minutemen have actually been to two bowls.

They lost the 1964 Tangerine Bowl 14-13 to East Carolina, and won the 1972 Boardwalk Bowl over UC Davis 35-14.  Their relevance to modern football is quite apparent.

Statistically, according to ESPN, UMass is 80th in passing yards (224.0), 118th in rushing yards (82.3), 91st in points for (25.3) and 104th in points against (35.)

While the Penn State offense is struggling, the Minutemen have given up 35 points on average to teams like Colorado, BC (who just beat USC) and Vanderbilt (who is really struggling this year sans Franklin.)  UMass does not bring the hatred and passion that Rutgers showed last week, and no one will ever confuse this as a rivalry game.  No one should have confused last week's match-up as one either, but Rutgers is arguably a better team than UMass.

Penn State needs this game for the offensive line to gain some confidence.  It is a work in progress, but only UMass and Northwestern stand between THEM and Ohio State back to back, albeit both coming off bye weeks in October.

I look to see Penn State NOT STRUGGLE (did you hear that guys---no last minute antics to pull out a win this week, please, and for the love of God don't lose this game!) and use this game to tune up some weaknesses.  I hope our back-up QB gets some reps, because with Hack running for his life the past few games, he is one hit away from being on the injured reserved list.

However, looking at how the Minutemen have struggled to score, I think our defense has a chance to pitch a shut out.  So I think Penn State will win easily, but may be lucky to cover the spread.  Let's say 27-3.

WEEKLY GAME GUIDE:

In the Big Ten:

Michigan State takes on Eastern Michigan.  GO Spartans!

Illinois takes on Texas State.  GO BOBCATS!

Nebraska plays Miami (FL).  This should be a good game.  GO HUSKERS!

Indiana travels to Missouri.  Good luck with that.  We can root for the Hoosiers all we want, but I think we know who will win this game!

The Hawkeyes travel to Pittsburgh--GO HAWKS!

Northwestern tries to get a win against Western Illinois.  What the heck, let's root for the Wild-can'ts!

The Terps head to Syracuse--GO TERPS!

Rutgers tries to rebound against Navy.  GO MIDSHIPMEN!

Minnesota hosts San Jose State.  GO GOPHERS!

Purdue should be able to make it back to .500 with a win over Southern Illinois.

Utah comes to the Big House.  GO UTES!

And Wisconsin hosts Bowling Green.  GO BADGERS!

The Buckeyes are off this week, preparing for Cincinnati.

In games featuring past opponents:

UCF should win against Bethuse-Cookman.

Akron takes on Marshall.  GO ZIPS!

GO STATE!  BEAT UMASS!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Rutgers Apology

From the Scarlet Knights website:
On behalf of Rutgers University and the Athletic Department, we would like to apologize for the regrettable actions of a handful of Rutgers fans on Saturday that do not convey the message of good, competitive spirit that we look forward to having with our new Big Ten rival Penn State University.

Some of the signage and t-shirts that we have been made aware of were both inappropriate and offensive.

I have spoken with and apologized to the Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour and I would like to apologize equally to the Penn State University fans, as well as Rutgers fans that were subjected to this classless display that does not represent the ethos of our university, athletic department or fan base.

The two inappropriate pictures that appeared briefly on our Facebook page as part of a 200-picture montage were immediately removed when we were alerted to their content.

It is unfortunate that the actions of a few spoiled an otherwise historic and record-setting night that Rutgers fans provided for our first Big Ten football game.

Julie Hermann
Rutgers Athletic Director
Sometimes there is a fine line between humor and insensitivity.  I think that some Rutgers fans crossed that line.  But some think I cross the line sometimes.  Oh, well.

In a related story, New Jersey has renamed the town of Piscataway . . .



And apparently, a picture of Franklin heading to New Jersey on a recruiting trip has surfaced . . .


We can only hope the Land Grant Trophy on the back falls in the river!