Sunday, October 11, 2009

"Critical" Game

Old Bob Spoo he had a team, E – I – E – I – U!
And on this team, great players few, E – I – E – I – U!
With a dink pass here, and a field goal there,
Here a sack, move them back, everywhere the team lacks,
Old Bob Spoo he had a team, E – I – E – I – U!

Penn State beat E-I-E-I-U 52-3 on what started out as a dismal, chilly October day. By the fourth quarter, the sun was breaking through the clouds, and Penn State did just what a nationally ranked team should do to a 1AA team—soundly beat them.

Have you ever enjoyed a movie which the critics—the so-called experts—panned? Not every movie is an Academy Award winner—some aren’t meant to be. If you go to see Caddyshack, you don’t expect Best Actor nominees, let alone riveting dialog and engaging plot lines. Yet, most fans of this movie don’t care. It serves its purpose without trying to be something that it is not and never was intended to be.

What does this have to do with Eastern Illinois? Well, if you were expecting Alabama or Ohio State then you were destined to be severely disappointed. But if you went to the game just to have a good time—just to be entertained, then this was the Caddyshack type of game for you.
Despite the fact that we actually played a game, most of the talk this past week was about the schedule. And most of that talk was negative. I’m not going to waste precious bytes trying to defend this game. It is what it is. You can’t turn Caddyshack into Chariots of Fire. We fans don’t schedule these games. I, for one, understand the economics behind such scheduling, although I’d still rather watch a more competitive game.

The Altoona Mirror cartoon suggests that we picked Eastern Illinois over Southern Cal, Notre Dame, or Cal because they had bye weeks. Cincinnati and Boise State also had bye weeks. But the question is not WHO is available, but WHICH TEAM is willing to come to Beaver Stadium without a return trip. I doubt any of those teams would be willing to do that. Even TCU backed out on us. We’d probably even consider scheduling Pitt if no return trip was expected. But that is not the world we live in.

But the game was exciting in its own right. We saw a 91 yard fumble returned by Bowman for a touchdown with 5 seconds left in the half, a play where he nearly ran out of gas before crossing the goal line and reminiscent of Harrison’s return in the Super Bowl. It was the longest fumble return in Beaver Stadium history. And if you were one of the hearty fans dedicated enough to show up—you got to see it in person, and feel the thrill of the crowd responding. If you were one of those fans that deigned this game beneath you, then you missed it. So sad.

I saw a lot of new faces in our section—folks that got seats for this game from those who didn’t have the time for it. Each and every one of them was likely thankful for this schedule—it gave them an opportunity to experience a Penn State game. Had Alabama or Notre Dame been on the field, those tickets would not have been available.

If we had had a better opponent, the students might have had to actually show up for the game. Sadly, the student section was never more than half-filled and even that might be generous. Seriously, where were they? You could sleep in till almost noon and still make it to your seat before the first quarter was in the books. Were they all studying? Seriously. How many games do you have the opportunity to attend as a student? Is it really worth skipping one just because the opponent doesn’t interest you? Does being a fan mean you only show up for the primetime, big games? I really don’t get young people today.

The listed attendance of 104,488 was obviously counting tickets sold rather than actual fans. The crowd was one of the sparsest I can recall. I won't excuse the Alumni for not showing, but many of them pay a whole lot more for those tickets than the students, and travel much further distances than the East Halls to get there. To those who joined me on what turned out to be a beautiful fall afternoon in Happy Valley, I salute you.

The Lions delivered just what you would expect for a game not worthy of an Academy Award nomination. The offense tallied 553 total yards and averaged 8.9 yards per play. The defense held the Panthers to 59 yards rushing and 206 yards total on the day.

Kevin Newsome got some playing time, and showed why he needed it with two fumbles. PSU recovered both. Unfortunately, we will likely not see him on the field again barring an injury to Clark the rest of the year, except maybe for the waning minutes of the Indiana game. Had we played a tough opponent, he would not even have gotten this playing time. McGloin also got a few snaps as well.

Like it or not, these games are here to stay. Florida played Charleston Southern. Florida State played Jacksonville State. I’m not suggesting it is right because everyone does it. The reality, though, is that everyone does do it. Plus, it benefits the smaller schools by sharing some of the wealth. And as long as they sell 105,000 tickets, it won’t change. But you can bitch about the quality all you want, or you can accept it for what it is.

And it was a fun win for the fans who showed up.



Team Totals EIU PSU
Rushing 4 16
Passing 10 12
Penalty 0 0
Rushing Attempts 32 36
Average Per Rush 1.8 7.9
Rushing Touchdowns 0 3
Yards Gained Rushing 101 285
Yards Lost Rushing 42 0
Completions-Attempts-Int 15-31-1 17-26-1
Average Per Attempt 4.7 10.3
Average Per Completion 9.8 15.8
Passing Touchdowns 0 3
Total offense plays 63 62
Average Gain Per Play 3.3 8.9
Fumbles: Number-Lost 1-1 2-0
Penalties: Number-Yards 2-15 4-20
PUNTS-YARDS 7-289 2-80
Average Yards Per Punt 41.3 40.0
Net Yards Per Punt 36.0 40.0
Inside 20 1 1
50+ Yards 2 0
Touchbacks 0 0
Fair catch 0 0
KICKOFFS-YARDS 2-140 9-577
Average Yards Per Kickoff 70.0 64.1
Net Yards Per Kickoff 50.0 43.3
Touchbacks 2 1
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD 0-0-0 6-37-0
Average Per Return 0.0 6.2
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD 8-167-0 0-0-0
Average Per Return 20.9 0.0
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD 1-0-0 1-11-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD 0-0-0 1-91-1
Miscellaneous Yards 0 0
Possession Time 30:21 29:39
1st Quarter 5:42 9:18
2nd Quarter 10:47 4:13
3rd Quarter 7:44 7:16
4th Quarter 6:08 8:52
Third-Down Conversions 5 of 15 3 of 7
Fourth-Down Conversions 0 of 0 0 of 1
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 0-1 4-4
Sacks By: Number-Yards 0-0 5-30
PAT Kicks 0-0 7-7
Field Goals 1-2 1-1


Penn State won the toss and deferred.

The Drum Major stuck both flips. The Blue Band halftime show was one of their best ever, featuring movie themes from Batman, Star Wars, Back to the Future, Superman, and Rocky. It was worth the trip even if the game wasn't.

It was Champ's Day. Penn State honored its national and Big Ten championship teams, which included football, fencing, field hockey, men's basketball, women's track and field, women's gymnastics, women's soccer, men's volleyball and, of course, the Lady Lion Volleyball team with back-to-back national championships!

Joe Paterno inches another game ahead of Bowden as dadgumit’s team lost to Georgia Tech.

Eastern Illinois is the 83rd new opponent to face a Joe Paterno squad.


The Hawkeyes roll on, beating THEM 30-28. But can they beat a team that doesn’t turn over the ball a dozen times? The Buckeyes beat the badgers 31-13, but three of the scores were pick sixes and a kick off returned for a touchdown. The Spartans beat Illinois 24-14. Minnesota upended Purdue 35-20, and Northwestern outlasted Miami (OH) 16-6. Indiana was crushed 47-7 by Virginia, who lost to William & Mary to open the season. The ’eyes are the only two undefeated teams in conference play.


1. Auburn—being ranked ain’t for sissies
2. LSU—geaux-ing nowhere fast
3. Ole Miss—SEC pretenders
4. Missouri—husked by Nebraska in a downpour. I’ve been there and done that. What is with playing well in the rain and corn?
5. BC—teched by Va Tech 48-14. I like that score—has a certain ring to it.


Penn State welcomes Minnesota back to Beaver Stadium for homecoming. The game is set for 3:30. Minnesota is 4-2 with losses to Cal (35-21) and Wisconsin (31-28). The Gophers beat Syracuse 23-20, Air Force 20-13 and Northwestern 35-24. We will look closer at how these teams match up statistically later this week, but Penn State dominates the comparison in nearly every category outside of special teams.

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