Sunday, September 26, 2010

No Golden Moment

It was not the greatest upset in college football history and not even the most amazing upset in the program’s storied history, but in the end, Penn State managed to upset the Temple Owls 22-13.

The Mighty and Most-annoying Owls came into Beaver Stadium as if they already had the game won. They were actually disappointed that they did not win. They couldn’t believe they didn’t win. They were already reserving tickets for a BCS game (they already had the rest of the season won as well.)

But that is why we play these games. The heavily favored (in their own minds) Owls came out swinging. THEY CAME TO PLAY. (If I hear that one more time I may just have to kill someone.) And for almost three quarters, the Cherry and Vanilla played like they were going to win. THEY DESERVED TO WIN. (If you say that one more time, you are next on my list.) But like any great team that gets upset, they let a pesky opponent—WHO ALSO CAME TO PLAY—hang around too long and the Lions snatched away victory in the final quarter of play.

Colin Wagner booted five field goals and missed a sixth that would have set a school record. Therein was the problem for the Nittany Lions.

Apparently we suffer from erythrozonophobia (“fear of the red zone”). Even the announcers noted that the play-calling seems to get more conservative in the red zone. Obviously, it is more difficult for any offense at that point on the field because the defense has less field to cover. But play-calling aside, even our execution is poor, as demonstrated by the many red zone turnovers we have had this season, most notably against Alabama. This week, we couldn’t even convert a short yardage situation on fourth down, though technically that was at the 25 and not “in” the red zone. But it would have been a fairly sure FG, or at least as sure as they can be. For the first time in a long time, it looked like maybe we should have kicked the field goal instead.

But the Lion defense tightened up in the second half and did not allow the Owls to score another point. In fact, all 13 Owl points came in the first quarter.  And we managed a late 96-yard drive to seal the game at a point where a three and out would have put the Owls in the perfect position to win with a field goal, ala Minnesota 1999.

I was thrilled to see Zordich come in late in the game and carry Owls with him as he strained to score. He played with some fire that I have not seen in any of our running backs to date. (Or any of the other players for that matter.) And he actually scored the lone touchdown for our team from one yard out. I know I would have lost it had we kicked ANOTHER field goal, or worse yet came away with no points. I can only hope we see more of him and that his energy and drive are infectious.

What is wrong with this team and punching the ball in? This is not something new. We have struggled with this issue other seasons. We are like the pimply nerd trying to ask the gorgeous Homecoming Queen out on a date. We get close, but then we get all tongue tied and start to stutter like blithering idiots.

Statistically, we out played the Owls. We had more first downs (20 to 8) and more total yardage (439-202) and won time of possession (34:31 to 25:29). Both teams lost a fumble but we made 3 interceptions. It was like watching the Titans have 7 turnovers and still have a chance to win the game against the Steelers.

In the end, I really do hope Temple does well from here on out. They played a lot better than I would have given them credit for beforehand—I didn’t give them any credit, so anything would be more. And we played a sloppy and inconsistent game and still won by nine points. But while Temple probably played the toughest team on their schedule this week, we have many more games that will be tougher than Temple. Sorry, Owls, but that’s reality.


The drum major stuck both flips.

Temple won the toss and deferred.

The Temple band made an appearance. Three bands have visited Beaver Stadium—none have been allegedly pelted with urine. Go figure.

Attendance was 104,840. The weather was fantastic!


The Ohio Pryors pasted Eastern Michigan 73-20 while Wisconsin ran it up on Austin Peay 70-3. The wolverines bowled over Bowling Green 65-21. Iowa bounced back against Ball State, pitching a 45-0 shutout. Indiana zipped past Akron 35-20 and the Spartans topped Northern Colorado 45-7. Northwestern edged Central Michigan 30-25.

But not every Big Ten team won on cupcake week as Minnesota fell to Northern Illinois 34-24 and Purdue got beat by Holy Toledo 31-20.

Illinois managed not to lose this week—they had a bye.


1. Texas—stunned by UCLA in Austin 34-12
2. Arkansas—almost upset the Big Bad Bama
3. ND—Irish eyes are crying as Stanford pounded the Domers
4. Pitt—embarrassed on Thursday night at home by the Canes.
5. WVU—came up short against the Bayou Tigers


Penn State starts the Big Ten season on the Road at Iowa. The game will be a night game, but I wonder if that might help us. We seem to start slow and an 11 am Central Time start might be hard to overcome.

What has Iowa done so far, besides produce corn?

W Eastern Illinois 37-7
W Iowa State 35-7
L Arizona 27-34
W Ball State 45-0

Iowa currently leads the nation in Total Defense (1), Rushing Defense (3) and Scoring Defense (5). Our offense is 67th overall and suffers erythrozonophobia. This does not bode well for a difficult road trip. They are only 21st in passing defense, so that may be their weakness if there is one.

I look for this to be a low scoring game, as I don’t think either offense is all that special. We did get the running game going a bit against Temple, but well, it was against Temple.

This game was one of my preseason losses. I stand by that prediction, but I would not be surprised if we pull out a win. We’re due for some luck in this series.


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