The crowd of 109,316 were ready for blood and pumped. The stadium video warned !*w@ to "bundle up" for the WHITE OUT. Penn State opened the game in dominating fashion, forcing the Hawks to a three and out and then putting seven points on the board in one 79 yard pass strike to Chaz Powell. On the next series, Iowa ran four plays before Sukay intercepted Stanzi on the PSU 21 yard line. The Lions next drive was a 68 yard, 10 play drive that consumed 10:17 but resulted in only a field goal. But the we were moving the ball, and !*w@ was getting stuffed. It looked like the rout was on.
But then a funny thing happened. Penn State reverted back to the same formula that we saw in the first three games. A crisp team takes the field, takes the lead early, and then fumbles and stumbles its way through the next three quarters. Penn State did not put another point on the board, and aside from a missed field goal from 48 yards, the Lions did not get close enough to even sniff the red zone let alone score.
Personally, while the blocked punt was the game changing play, this stalled drive was where the momentum shifted. Penn State never got their groove back. I hate kicking field goals after a long drive like that—it’s a moral victory for the opposing team’s defense. We let them off the hook. We left them hang around. We gift wrapped this upset for them in pretty white wrapping paper.
It’s not like we couldn’t see this coming. I just said in my last post that this game was eerily reminiscent to last year’s contest—throw in some poor weather and the final outcome, and voila—déjà blue all over again.
We knew the offensive line had issues. Protection for Clark was again poor, and even the unveiling of the QB draw did not impress anyone. Clark looked particularly uncomfortable in the pocket and his throws were erratic, having three INTs on the day. He couldn’t even pass gas without being intercepted.
We knew the running game was shaky. Royster, normally solid, fumbled in the fourth quarter on a promising drive that might have tied the game with a two-point conversion, but those things happen. It just sucks that it had to happen in this game at this time against this team. But fumble aside, he had only 69 yards on 17 carries, and the Hawkeyes outgained us on the ground 163 to 109.
The gut response is to credit !*w@ for a great game. But the Hawks had two interceptions and were several dropped passes away from making the score look even worse. They played better than we did, but we played awful on offense. At times, Clark couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, and these barn boys happened to be in the right place at the right time. I haven’t reviewed the DVR, and quite frankly I don’t think I can stomach that pain, but I think all the INTs were tipped or errant passes, rather than some defender making a great play on the ball—i.e. a QB having a better day would probably have pulled out a win. I can’t say honestly that this is a great !*w@ team. Good. But not great. I don’t think they will win the Big Ten but I won’t be surprised if the bastards prove me wrong. Children of the Corn are like that, you know.
All in all, the day was a dismal, dreary, sloppy wet disaster.
BY THE NUMBERS:
|NET YARDS RUSHING||163||109|
|Average Per Rush||4.4||3.3|
|Yards Gained Rushing||188||125|
|Yards Lost Rushing||25||16|
|NET YARDS PASSING||135||198|
|Average Per Attempt||5.2||6.2|
|Average Per Completion||12.3||16.5|
|TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS||298||307|
|Total offense plays||63||65|
|Average Gain Per Play||4.7||4.7|
|Average Yards Per Punt||35.6||35.7|
|Net Yards Per Punt||31.8||18.0|
|Average Yards Per Kickoff||55.4||61.8|
|Net Yards Per Kickoff||38.2||38.2|
|Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD||1-53-1||2-19-0|
|Average Per Return||53.0||9.5|
|Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD||4-94-0||5-86-0|
|Average Per Return||23.5||17.2|
|Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD||0-0-0||0-0-0|
|Third-Down Conversions||4 of 14||9 of 19|
|Fourth-Down Conversions||0 of 0||1 of 1|
|Sacks By: Number-Yards||2-7||2-15|
It may be cliched, but PSU did not deserve to win this game. Total first downs were close, but the return yardage and turnovers are insurmountable. Despite holding the Hawks to under 300 yards and 4 of 14 on third down, we still could not win.
Can we take up a collection to buy a special teams coach?
Penn State won the coin toss for the first time all season, a harbinger of doom apparently.
The Blue Band did not perform on the field due to weather conditions.
!*w@ has now won 7 of the last eight games, and tied the all-time series record at 11 apiece.
JoePa missed an opportunity to go another one up as Bowden’s team fell to USF. He has also failed in his quest to have an undefeated team in every decade he has coached.
Penn State snapped an 11-game home winning streak, and is now 7-10 in Big Ten openers, but only 2-8 since 2000.
THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:
The Buckyes pasted the Illini 30-0. They face Indiana next week on the road.
THEM narrowly defeated Indiana 36-33. I did not see the game, but folks that did agree that the referines were in A-game form and helped the Wolverines cinch the win. I am not surprised. Is anyone? The Wolverines travel to East Lansing to hose the Spartans next week.
Michigan State lost to the Badgers 38-30. Wisconsin heads to Minnesota next.
Minnesota beat the Wildcats 35-24.
1. For the wet and weary Penn State faithful
2. For Ole Miss
3. For California
4. For Miami
5. Enough tears in the top ten already
Yeah, whatever. Sure, the Lions could rebound and still make a run at the conference title, but who really cares about that. I certainly can see !*w@ losing a couple of games and if we can improve and beat the Buckeyes—hey, we can share another title. Woo Freaking Hoo!
The Lions travel to Illinois to face a team that is not doing well this season. The Illini opened with a 37-9 loss to Missouri, beat Illinois State 45-17 and were shutout 30-0 by the Buckeyes.
How Penn State rebounds from this loss will depend on what kind of leadership and heart this team has. I still think a one-or two loss season is possible, but not likely if we can’t solve these offensive problems. Remember the dark years of 2003-4—pretty good defense but an offense that couldn’t score. This loss is not that far removed from that.