Thursday, September 30, 2010

Whom Do We Root For?

With the Big Ten season about to begin, I present the weekly game guide.

Obviously, we're rooting against the Gold and Black Chickenhawks, but they are a touchdown fave over our beloved Nittany Lions who open Big Ten play on the road.

The Ohio State Luckeyes open on the road against Illinois and are 17.5 point favorites.  One school of thought says that we root for the Red and Silver so they will be higher ranked when we play them.  Let's be frank here.  Or Joe.  Or whatever your name is.  Strength of schedule at this point is fairly irrelevant for us.  The chance of a national title is dim at best.  The best case scenario is to win the Big Ten and get the automatic BCS bid.  Winning the Big Ten means having the best conference record.  Thank you Mr. Obvious.  A loss by any team we are likely to lose to is a good thing.  So Go Illini!  Crack some nuts!

BTW:  Ohio State has opened Big Ten play 14 out of the last 20 seasons.  This is their first road opener since 2004.  Seems a bit unfair, doesn't it?  As if we need another reason not to like the guys with marijuana leaves on their helmets.  (In case you are wondering, Penn State has opened Big Ten play at home 8 out of 20 seasons.)  You can read all about it in the Altoona Mirror.

Moving right along.  The Rich Rods go on the road to take on the Hoosiers and are 10 point favorites.  I'm sorry, but this one is easy.  Go Hoosiers!

Northwestern travels to Minnesota and is a 5 point fave over the gophers.  Go Wildcats! (but who really cares?!)

Michigan State hosts the Badgers who are favored by 2.  We don't play Wisconsin, so GO SPARTANS!

Purdue has a bye week.  The bye week is favored by 3.5 points.

In other games of interest:

The Domers are favored over BC by 2.  Go Eagles!

Pitt is favored by 19 points over Florida International Airport.  I don't even think Wanny can screw this one up, but then he has rarely left me down.

In previous opponents' games:

Alabama takes on 7th ranked Florida and is favored by 9.  This is tough.  I really don't like Saban, but Bama soundly defeated us.  I also don't care much for Urban Renewal Meyers.  Pick your poison in this one.

Temple is favored by 5 over Army.  Go Owls!

Kent State is a 3 point fave over Miami (OH).  Go Flashes!

YSU is 3-0 since losing to PSU.  They play Missouri State this weekend.  Go Penguins!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Wrath of Joe

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Whoooo's Scared?

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.

INTANGIBLES:

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 BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

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.

SHEDDING TEARS:

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

LOOKING AHEAD:

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.

GO STATE! FRY HAWKS!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday Night Football

Pitt trails Miami (FL) 10-0 at the half thanks to turnovers by Miami that has kept Pitt in the game.

But let's face it, the best teams in PA will square off at Beaver Stadium this weekend.  Well, at least one of them will be there.

JoePa's Doghouse is pumped.
Let's face it: Temple is now our traditional in-state rival.  Forget looking westward to Pittsburgh.  The series with the Panthers is done.  Over.  Wannstachted'ed.  The Owls are our team now.
Penn State now has a 27-game winning streak against Temple University. . . It's the longest active streak in the country.
We're just one Charlie Weis-at-ND-versus-Navy from dropping this one. But let's be honest, barring a massive letdown this is all there is in terms of history in this series. Lopsidedness.
It's hard to muster up hate to avenge a loss that occurred during the FDR administration.
And this is what makes Temple so annoying.  There is nothing new to report.  It's the same team we've seen since 2006, a team Penn State has outscored 154-9 in that time span.  Yes, they may be a little older and a little better, but are they so good they can defeat Penn State?   Let there be no misunderstanding--this team is not better, they just suck less.  Their struggles against Villanova tell you all that you want to know.  This is just another dull paycheck game for the athletic department.
I couldn't have said it better myself.  Come on people--it's Temple.  T-E-M-P-L-E. 
 Southernnitt1974 asks the question, what is wrong with our fanbase? 
Temple is improved but they are still Temple for god's sake! We will beat Temple soundly.
But MH55 thinks it's "time."
I wont be there Saturday. I'm going to enjoy this landmark Temple win from the safety and comfort of my home. This is the time.
Time Magazine?  Time for what?  Another beatdown?  R U SERIOUS?
 
LikemikePSU writes:
Over on the Temple board they are talking psu win, top 25, and even an undefeated season??? Are they insane? They beat Uconn and now all of a sudden they are relevant. I hope we take this game seriously and run the score up to show the nation we havent fallen that far from greatness. I know were young and all but I cant stand how Temple isnt the slightest bit intimidated by us. This is a statement game for our team and the rest of the nation before we go to Iowa under the lights in primetime!

fortheglory94 responded:
Wait, there's a Temple board?!?
I know!  I was surprised too!  So I went looking for this.  And I found this:
ShawnOwl typed:
Maybe I'm stating the obvious, but in all the talk leading up to this week's game, I'm still not sure whether people understand that we could be two days away from the biggest win in Temple football history. This is not hyperbole. It's a fact. The Owls have beaten a few nationally-ranked teams over the years. They won a bowl game 30 years ago. They've had some big wins here and there. But this would be the biggest. The BIGGEST!
OK, Mr. Obvious, considering Temple hasn't beaten PSU since 1941, I would think any win would be BIG.  But just when you get us all excited about Owl Football, you mention winning a bowl game . . . THIRTY years ago.  I don't care who you are--that's funny!  It reminds me of the coach at Rydell High that wants to finally ring that victory bell.  But that's not the BIGGEST ding-a-ling here.

wotan seems to be more on top of things:
Some have predicted a Temple victory. It seems the team is developing. . . 35-3-1. And we had some "developed" teams in those 35 loses. Just give us the money and send us home healthy. Can't imagine who those "some" would be, but 15 points isn't enough for me.

I guess we'll just have to actually play this game and find out, won't we?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Leapin' Lizards!

The following is Troy Polamalu's Leaping sack in Sunday's game against the Titans, featuring Kerry Collins at QB.



Compare and contrast that with the Lavar Leap (essay question):

Buckeye Beaten

Ohio University's Bobcat apparently took down Brutus during the festivities last weekend.
The Bobcat first went after Brutus as the OSU mascot led the Buckeyes onto the field for the game.
Moments later, the Bobcat mascot climbed on the back of Ohio State's mascot and rode him to the ground. The two then tussled in the end zone while fans booed.

Ohio University has apologized to Ohio State and its fans after the school's Bobcat mascot tackled the Brutus Buckeye mascot, touching off an impromptu wrestling match before Saturday's game at Ohio Stadium.
In addition, the student who was dressed in the Bobcat costume has been banned from any further affiliation with Ohio athletics.
Apparently Bobcat doesn't know that a bag of urine is the appropriate weapon for dealing with Buckeyes.  I can't think of any worse fate than to be banned from Ohio athletics.  Seriously . . . is that a punishment?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Golden Flashes Flushed

I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive about this game. Sitting in the stadium before the game, I watched the Kent State Flashes practicing. They oddly resembled Iowa, if you figure the dark blue is kind of black. That scared me. I couldn’t quite figure out the mascot/name. It looked like an eagle.  It could be a Hawkeye.  Or maybe a chicken hawk?  But what is a flash? According to Black Shoe Diaries,
Is it lightning? Is it a bird? Get your lightning bird away from me!

With Penn State coming off a physical loss to the nation’s number one ranked team, coupled with a noon start, I expected the team to be sluggish out of the gate and a low scoring first half. I was half right.

The Penn State defense notched their first turnover of the season on Kent’s first possession, as D’Anton Lynn picked off a pass from heralded QB Spencer Keith. Spencer Keith led his high school to all kinds of success and interestingly enough, his high school coach apparently NEVER punts. Not only that, but his players never punt either. They play four downs every possession. Spencer Keith sounds like a soap opera character. But I digress.

The Penn State offense did not digress and methodically moved the ball 45 yards for the score.
The defense held again and forced a punt. Rob Bolden then led the Lions on a 5 play, 70 yard drive highlighted by a 55 yard pass to Moye on the first play of the series. It looked like the rout was on and we would go all Boise State over Wyoming on this one.

But then sloppy and inconsistent play set in, the kind I expected the team to come out with. The Lions took their fourteen points into the locker room with them at the half.

We tacked on a field goal in the third quarter, added another score in the fourth, and avoided letting the Golden Flushes Flashes score a meaningless TD against the second string to preserve the shut out.
Aside from the first defensive interception of the season, Graham Zug got his first catch of the year. Colin Wagner missed his first field goal, a 43 yarder early in the fourth quarter when the game was still technically not in the bag. Well, who are we kidding—the game was never technically in doubt, even before it was played.

But there are doubts about this Penn State team, and one of the side stories of the week concerned the question, “what is wrong with Royster?” I am not going to debate this issue. The stats speak for themselves. He is not even in the top 100 rushers in the country right now. And although Alabama has a great defense, and even though Kent State was ranked number one in rush defense going into this week (they are 7th right now) it is difficult to explain what the problem is. Is it Royster, sharing time with Redd and Green, the opponents, or the offensive line? It is interesting that Royster fumbled on the first play of the second half (problem with the exchange) and saw limited time after that. Running backs were not supposed to be one of our problem areas going into this season.

I also saw/heard a lot of complaints about our defense. I was indeed discouraged about how things went against Alabama, but this was Kent State. They didn’t score. I was sure they were going to dink and dunk their way downfield against our bend but don’t break D and at least put up some points. They did not. We didn’t even give up our usual token score during garbage time.

Overall, I thought it was a very blasé performance against a blasé opponent. I think Kent State is a step above YSU and we are slowly improving. I thought Bolden was less accurate this week, but he still had a good day and made some great throws. Penn State is the ONLY school that has not allowed a sack this season. None of the major issues appear to be unfixable, but I’m not sure we can expect better than 9-3, which was/is my pre-season prediction. We are still on track.

INTANGIBLES:

The Drum Major stuck both flips.

Penn State won the toss and deferred.

Joe Paterno notched victory #396.

Attendance was 100,610 but the stadium did not look that full, thanks to a student section that never did completely fill, and a Kent State section that was largely empty. There was a smattering of KSU fans—probably band parents. Like YSU, KSU brought their band. No complaints of urine flinging have been reported.  I guess we save that for big games!

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

UM edged past Umass 42-37. Wisconsin survived ASU 20-19. In keeping with close games, Illinois beat Northern Illinois 28-22. Purdue outlasted Ball State 24-13. The Hoosiers beat Western Kentucky 38-21. Northwestern ate Rice 30-13. The Pro Team in Columbus won 43-7 over Ohio.

MSU and ND squared off in the Former Cincinnati Coaches Bowl, with Dantonio coming out on top 34-31 in OT in East Lansing. The game was so exciting it gave him a heart attack. Seriously. He had a heart attack later that night. Fortunately, it sounds like he is doing fine and will recover.

On the losing end of things, Southern Cal took out the Gophers, 32-21. Iowa pulled their usual, losing to Arizona 34-27, but rest assured they will play the Big Ten season like a different team—they couldn’t beat a team like Pitt in 2008, but against the #3 ranked Lions they played like they were headed to the Super Bowl.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1. The Irish—had time expired before the fake field goal snap in OT?
2. Clemson—snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Auburn
3. Iowa—Hawkeyes blow another early season game
4. Wake Forest—beaten 68-24 by Stanford
5. Duke—beaten 62-13 by Bama. But at least they scored 13!

LOOKING AHEAD:

Temple comes to Beaver Stadium next Saturday for a game at 3:30pm ET. The Owls under Al (“Owl”) Golden are 3-0 for the first time since 1979. Their wins so far are thus:

Villanova 31-24
Central Michigan 13-10 (OT)
Connecticut 30-16

When I got the Citizen’s Bank button for the Kent State game, I thought there was a mistake. The slogan “No Golden Moment” I assumed referred to Coach Golden. But alas, it was the correct button for the not-so Golden Flashes. But, I think you could reuse the button this week anyway.

Penn State is the only team on their schedule currently ranked. Some people are concerned about this game. Pre-season, a Harrisburg sportswriter picked Temple to beat Penn State. We could be looking ahead to the Big Ten road opener against the Hawkeyes, and we have not played very well to date.

But is an upset possible? Of course it’s possible. And maybe one day Lindsay Lohan will test negative for drugs. It’s just not likely. I think you have to go back to 2003 to find a game where Temple scored a touchdown against PSU. (They did not play in 2004-5.) In the last four games, the Owls have been outscored 154-9. And while this year’s team is probably not as good as last year’s or even 2008’s, it is probably as capable as the 2006-7 units under Morelli. Of course, this year’s Temple unit is probably better than those teams that were shut out in 2006-7.

That said, I think this PSU team is still feeling its way, not like a blind man in a strange city, but maybe like someone in the dark in a familiar room. They know where everything is—the pieces are all there—you just have to put them together without cracking your shin on the coffee table or knocking over a lamp. But with a daunting game at Iowa looming, I think the game plan will be kept fairly vanilla and the game may be closer than it has been recently.

But an upset? I think not.

GO STATE! BEAT OWLS!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Tide is High

The Tide was high, and despite rolled up pants, we got nothing but wet. They say the sun always rises the next morning—but the skies here in central PA are gray and cloudy. My PSU flag hangs limp at half-mast. It is raining on my parade. But while there may be no joy in Mudville this morning, things are not as bad as they seem.

I am curiously unaffected by this loss, which is strange for a guy that bleeds blue and white, lives on a steady diet of Kool Aid and looks at the world through blue-tinted glasses. I do not feel the anger that Paterno exuded in his post-game conference. I am disappointed in our performance, especially in our defense, but that is as emotional as I can get right now. During the game, I felt frustration, but I never gave up hope until the clock ticked down to the point of no return about midway in the fourth quarter. No one is going to score three touchdowns against Bama in an eight minute time frame.

Against all odds, I have come to a quiet acceptance. The Crimson Tide is a strong team—physically and mentally. Paterno feared he might be out-manned and he was. There is no shame in that.  The sky is not falling.  I am not Chicken Little, but I may be just a little chicken.

I was actually somewhat optimistic before kick-off, but schizophrenic at the same time. My mood swung from “we have a chance to upset these guys” to “I hope we don’t embarrass ourselves on national TV.” The result, a lop-sided 24-3 loss to the #1 ranked team in the country, was actually somewhere between those two extremes.

As I said last week in my YSU recap, a team that wins upsets has to play arguably their best game of the season—relatively mistake free. We made way too many mistakes to win this game. And if we make mistakes like that against OSU, Iowa, and THEM, you will probably see the same result. Maybe against any other Big Ten team. But there is hope.

Rob Bolden is a work in progress, but he is a play by Shakespeare, not a sophomore essay like some past quarterbacks. The pieces are all there and will come together. His first INT was caused by his arm being hit at the throw. I also think the second one was due to interference with his throw although it was hard to tell on the replay. Contrast that with Justin Brown’s throw which was into coverage and underthrown and with no one hanging on him.

The fumble by Chaz Powell early in the second quarter, the score was 14-0 at that point, was the game changing play if ever there was one. Penn State ultimately recovered the ball, but not until it was returned and refumbled at the PSU 2. After a punt and a short field, Bama tacked on three and took a 17-0 lead into the half.

Yet, I still remained optimistic and Penn State continued to move the ball on their first possession of the second half. But then another INT killed yet another scoring drive. The play started from the 26 yard line, so it was not technically a red-zone turnover, but it did erase a potential scoring attempt.

If you like to play the “what if” game, Penn State could have had three scoring chances lost on turn-overs in scoring position. Let’s assume Alabama’s D held and Wagner remained cool as a cucumber. That’s a score of 12 for Penn State. Maybe more if we found a way to make it into the endzone.

On the flip side, the Tide scored their second TD after an INT, and while the fumble that took the ball all the way back to the PS 2 didn’t directly lead to a Bama score, it did set up the short field after the punt when Bama tacked on the field goal. That’s 10 points following turnovers or miscues. The ‘what if’ game ends in a score of 14-12 with a whole lot assumptions. I especially assume that Bama wouldn’t fumble on their fumble return and that the refs wouldn’t give the Tide possession at the PS 1 yard line as some people think should have been the case. It was reviewed though and the call held.

But had we not turned the ball over so many times, I do really think the game would have been closer. But there were other mistakes. Zug dropped an easy slant pass that killed a drive. Fera had an awful 29 yard punt that followed—Bama went on to score after that. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. It was a game fraught with missed opportunities.

Some would argue we shouldn’t have tried the gimmick play that resulted in an INT. We had moved the ball out from the shadow of our end zone with Newsome now at the helm. But I like the call. We were moving the ball at the time, so there is no reason to think Alabama would expect something like that. It was unfortunately well defended and poorly executed.

I really liked the fact that we let Bolden throw at all. I like the fact that Joe got Newsome some playing time. I think our offensive line did better this week against a vastly superior opponent than YSU, though perhaps not good enough to actually win. And while special teams didn’t make something happen this week, they didn’t let something happen either, 29 yard punt notwithstanding.

As I said above, I was disappointed with our defensive line. Our string of games holding rushers to less than a hundred yards was snapped, but I didn’t expect us to hold Bama under the century mark. I was hoping for less than 180 yards total, though. But Richardson bench presses something like 300-400 lbs and squats 600. He looked like a locomotive barreling through our line and reminded me of Bernstein at Wisconsin a few years ago ( I still have nightmares.) You ought to just put the mascot costume on that dude--he's like a frickin' elephant running through a tribe of pygmies.  I pity the fools that have to face him the rest of the year.

Hopefully, this game will better prepare us for playing in Columbus or Iowa than beating another cupcake like we have done the past few seasons. And we are still undefeated in Big Ten play. The remainder of the OOC schedule should not give us any trouble, and I expect our offensive and defensive lines to improve as the season goes on. Zug will eventually join the team and make his first catch.

And if the weekend could not get any worse, the women’s volleyball team suffered their first loss in something like 109 straight matches. Hats off ladies to a remarkable streak!

INTANGIBLES:

Alabama won the toss and elected to receive.

Joe is now 3-3 versus Saban, and Alabama leads the all-time series 9-5.

September 11th is the Bear’s birthday. We were doomed when this game was scheduled rescheduled.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

The Boilermakers beat Western Illinois 31-21. The Spartans spanked Florida Atlantic 30-17. Northwestern beat Illinois State 37-3. Wisconsin beat San Jose State 27-14. Iowa beat its State rival 35-7. The Buckeyes beat Miami (FL) 36-24 and THEM topped the Irish 28-24.

The Gophers lost to South Dakota 41-38.

Indiana did not play. Hard to tell the difference, though.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1. Va Tech x 2—follows heartbreaking loss to Boise State by laying an egg against James Madison, losing 21-16.
2. Georgia Tech—beat by Kansas (who lost 6-3 to Jacksonville State)
3. Marshall—two late TD’s and an extra point send the game to OT where their kicker misses a field goal, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Marhsall has never beaten WVU.
4. F$U—apparently Oklahoma isn’t Samford
5. Boise State—chokies loss really hurts the already weak schedule strength

LOOKING AHEAD:

Kent State comes to Beaver Stadium.

The Golden Flashes (like sparklers?) beat Murray State (is that between Montana and Idaho?) 41-10 in their opener, but then fell to Boston College 26-13 on the road. But it was 6-3 BC at the half.

The big question here is whether Penn State can regroup after this loss. Paterno’s staff and teams have not handled early season losses well this past decade—in fact, not since Minnesota derailed the 1999 campaign. And with a question of good leadership on this team, who knows how we will handle this. Exhibit A is Beamer’s Chokie team that collapsed against James Madison less than a week removed from an emotional loss to Boise State.

Personally, I think this group will rebound. I predict a slow start ala YSU with a fairly close score at the half. Then, the depth and strength of PSU overcomes the Flashes in the second half to post a reasonable final score. I also look for Newsome to get some more playing time—not just in case Bolden goes down, but as a change of pace in games where Bolden can’t get things going, or an option quarterback would be a better choice against a given defense.

GO STATE! BEAT FLASHES!

PS(u):  A big shout out for the guys over at Black Shoe Diaries for linking my recap last week.  THANK YOU!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11

Friday, September 10, 2010

It's Elephant Season!



And then there's this gem from NatLion on the BWI board:




Laugh, but these guys made $2455.25.  Don't ask about the quarter,  You don't want to know.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bad Bama Memories

I wrote these lyrics a few years ago as a "tribute" to the 1979 Sugar Bowl where Penn State lost to Alabama, after failing to convert on a fourth and goal.  The upcoming game with the Tide reminded me of this game.  Back then, Penn State was #1.  Although we're not #2 right now, like Bama was in 1978, it would be awfully nice to repay this loss and upset the Crimson Elephants this weekend.

The tune is to Madonna's version of American Pie by Don McLean.

Oh, and I apologize in advance for my singing voice, or the lack thereof.  (I wouldn't play it with the volume up if I were you.)

THE DAY THE LION CRIED (Bye, Bye National Championship)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Penn State versus Alabama

Sunday, September 5, 2010

PSU Powers Past Penguins

Somehow, the weather knew it was football season. For the past two months, the temps have been in the 80’s and 90’s, but on the first Saturday of football season at Penn State, the breeze was crisp, the sky mostly cloudy, and the temp was in the sixties. It was great football weather and much better than melting our foam fingers in sweltering humidity.

The windy climate did not seem to bother true freshman QB Rob Bolden, as he had a record day for freshman QBs. As we drove to the game, I mused about this momentous start. It was the first time in a century that a freshman QB started a season at Penn State. That alone is cause to stop and reflect. I don’t recommend doing that in the middle of I-99, though.

But consider this also . . . Bolden only just started in summer camp, what three weeks ago? Three months ago he was going to his high school prom! Not only did Newsome and McGloin have a year in the system on him, but Paul Johnson had the advantage of early enrollment and playing in the Blue-White game and spring practice.

What this said to me was that this kid has something. Not just that, but the coaches can see it. And it’s not something small. If the talent level were close, Newsome or McGloin would have gotten the nod. No. This kid must be something special. Either that, or Paterno really is getting senile—and I doubt that.

So like most Penn State fans, I was looking forward to seeing this phenom in action. And he did not disappoint. His only major miscue was an INT, but the receiver actually fell down on the play. He overthrew some balls, but with the wind and it being his first collegiate start, that is to be expected. We are looking for results here; not miracles. This is not Notre Dame. We win with players, not ghosts.

Bolden looked calm. He didn’t stare down receivers or get rattled. He took a few hits, including a couple of late calls where the flag was thrown. He has a quick release and really throws a nice tight spiral. You might have to go back to Kerry Collins in 1994 to find a QB with such good mechanics. And he is JUST A FRESHMAN!

Now granted, I’d have liked to see the Lions paste 66 points on them like we did to Sweet Coastal Caroline a few years ago, but despite the slow start, I thought this was one of Penn State’s better openers in recent years. And the early adversity, such as it was, may have been a good wake-up call. It might be a stretch to say it will go anywhere in terms of preparing to play Alabama, but maybe, just maybe, if they do get down early, they will remember that as long as there is time on the clock and plays to made, it is possible to win this game.

Unless you are Youngstown State. Seriously. I admit I had some angst going into the second quarter. I was more pissed off that the 7-3 first quarter score would be flashed around the country and idiots like Mark May would jump on the upset special bandwagon. A score like that would have the talking heads all going Appalachian State on us. The media doesn’t like us anyway—why give them more ammunition to tear us down?

And more annoying than that were the two red clad clowns in front of us jumping up and down like they’re all Division I-A, when like we know they are not. But that didn’t stop them from cheering like they had a real legitimate chance to all Jacksonville State pants us on our home turf and on the Big Ten Network to boot. But they got quiet real fast, and they ended up leaving the game early. I think if you’re going to come into someone else’s house and act like morons, you should grow some balls and stay to the bitter end. Either that or sit quietly and be polite when your team is scaring the fricking hell out of the rest of us. Is that too much to ask? I mean, you’re outnumbered like 50,000 to one here. The odds aren’t good for you, win or lose. But I digress.

So the team hung in there and took a 16-7 lead into halftime.

And then it happened. We had been waiting the entire first half for someone to step up and make a play. Run back a fumble or an INT. Break one for a long run from scrimmage. Something. Anything. Game changing play. Throw us a friggin’ bone here. Give this game a spark and ignite the old Penn State scoring machine.
Chaz Powell did just that as he weaved and ran his way to a 100 yard kick-off return that pretty much sealed the deal and got the Zombie Nation bouncing in the stands for the first time this season.

Other things of note:

Despite the slow start, Penn State only punted once the entire game. It wasn’t a long punt, but it was covered well.

Special teams looked so good you almost might think we actually have a special teams coach. Wagner booted three field goals over 40 yards (he was 1-5 from that distance last year) and this was on a windy day! Fera booted kick-offs consistently deep, if not through the end zone, and actually split the uprights with one. I’m sorry, but the rules need to be changed. You should get some points for that! Our punt returns still need some work, but at least we weren’t fair catching the whole day.

Brackett had a great day and showed why he deserves to be a team captain.

On the defensive side of the ball, Penn State held the Penguins to 75 yards on the ground as a team. Penn State has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in the last 18 games.

Colasanti had a career day with 13 tackles.

INTANGIBLES:

The drum major missed his first flip—which supposedly portends a loss—but he managed to barely stick the second one in the south end zone. The feature twirler is a dude, but he’s got this trademark thing of twirling the baton, throwing it away, bouncing it off the turf and having it come back to him like it’s a boomerang or something.

The Lion mascot appeared sober.

Penn State won the toss and deferred.

The crowd of 101,213 was mostly subdued. The wave was anemic and ill-coordinated. Please wait till we’re winning to pull that crap. I can’t cheer, watch the game, and throw my hands up in the air at the same time in a more or less coordinated fashion.

Joe Paterno notched win #395. Bowden is done. There’s no one else in the mirror.

Penn State is 2-0 versus the Penguins all-time.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

The Buckeyes took care of Marshall on Thursday Night Football, beating the Herd 45-7. Terrell Pryor is obviously the best QB. Evah. Give him the Heisman. Give them their Big Ten Championship for like the hundredth year in a row. Give them the MNC. We don’t even need to play the rest of the season.

For the rest of us, UConn fell to THEM 30-20. Northwestern edged the Commodores 23-21. Iowa crushed Eastern Illinois 37-7. Michigan State bested Western Michigan by a score of 38-14. The Badgers topped UNLV 41-21. Indiana hosed Towson 51-17, and Minnesota squeaked by Middle Tennessee State 24-17.

Two Big Ten teams lost, with Illinois falling to Missouri 23-13 and the Irish overpowering Purdue by a score of 23-12.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1. Pitt- do we need say anything else?
2. Ole Miss—pants by Jacksonville State in OT
3. North Carolina—lost to LSU 30-24
4. Kansas—pwned by North Dakota State. 6-3. Wow. Just, um, wow.
5. Oregon State—yeah, it was a highly ranked TCU team, but these Beavers just can’t win an early season game to save their dam.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Penn State travels to Tuscaloosa next week to take on the defending National Champions and Number 1 ranked Crimson Tide.

How big is this game? Whoa Nellie! Penn State has done traditionally done well against teams with Heisman winners, but it is likely that Mark Ingram won’t play due to injury.

Against #1 ranked teams in the Paterno era:

1966 unranked Lost to Michigan State 42-8 (A)
1976 unranked Lost to Pitt 24-7 (A)
1981 #11 won against Pitt 48-14 (A)
1982 #2 won against Georgia 27-23 (Sugar Bowl)
1983 unranked lost to Nebraska 44-6 (Giant Stadium)
1986 #2 won against Miami (FL) 14-10 (Fiesta Bowl)
1988 unranked lost to Notre Dame 21-3 (A)
1989 #17 lost to Notre Dame 34-23 (H)
1990 #18 won at Notre Dame 24-21 (A)
1998 #7 lost to Ohio State 28-9 (A)
2006 #24 lost to Ohio State 28-6 (A)
2007 #24 lost to Ohio State 37-17 (H)

So we are 4-8 overall facing #1 ranked teams. We’re 2-0 in bowl games which has no bearing here. We’re 2-6 on the road. But we’re 0-2 at home versus number 1, so thank heavens this is an away game! Our odds are better!

Seriously, I am feeling a little better knowing that we may be able to score some points. The offensive line looked lousy in the first half against the Penguins. They did seem to get better as the game went on, but perhaps YSU got tired. The level of competition is totally different for this week’s game, though.
I think if Bama brings their A-game that got them through last season, I don’t think we can match that level of play at this time. But if they are off a little bit, make a few mistakes, and we play relatively error free football, I think we have a chance. I also hope we don’t crawl into a shell and play not to lose. I don’t mean we should play with reckless abandon and gimmick plays, but I think we have to allow Bolden to pass the ball and use the whole field—which includes the middle.

If Alabama takes something away from us, so be it. But let’s not help them out and do it for them.

Teams that upset their opponents have a few things in common. They tend to play error-free. They usually have their best game of the year. Their opponent is typically not playing its usual game. But more importantly, the coaches and the players play like they WANT TO WIN. They play like they have nothing to lose.

In the great grand scheme of this season, a loss here is no different if we lose a frustratingly conservative game by one point or an aggressive but lopsided loss by 20 or more. It’s a non-conference game and the Big Ten title and BCS bowl are still possible. A national title is a very, very long shot this year and probably impossible with a loss, so if that’s what we’re playing for, so be it. Play to win. I’d much rather see us lose a game we tried to win than lose a game we tried not to lose.

GO STATE! ROLL the TIDE!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

To Bolden Go Where No Freshman Has Gone Before . . .

OK, he may not be the FIRST freshman to ever play for Joe Paterno, but his choice as the starting QB is certainly rare and unusual.

As noted here.
In meantime, Robert Bolden starts on Saturday. A true freshman.


Coach Joe Paterno at his ripe old age continues to surprise!

And here.
According to Lou Prato, author of the Penn State Football Encyclopedia, Bolden will be the first true freshman quarterback to start an opener for Penn State in 100 years.

The last, 5-foot-5 College Football Hall of Famer Eugene "Shorty" Miller, debuted with a 58-0 win Oct. 1, 1910, against the Harrisburg Athletic Club.
Bolden, from Orchard Lake, Mich., is just the third true freshman to start a game at quarterback for Paterno, joining Richardson (1992) and Tony Sacca (1988), who were forced into action only because of injuries.
Here's a toast to Bolden!  May he have a great season, as well as the entire Nittany Lion Football Team!


GO STATE!  BEAT PENGUINS!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Divisions

According to Teddy Greenstein of chicagobreakingsports.com, the new divisions in the Big Ten will be as thus:
According to a report on ESPN.com -- ESPN/ABC is a Big Ten television partner -- and also reported by the Associated Press, Division 1 will have Northwestern, Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State and Minnesota.


Division II will be made up of Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Purdue and Indiana.

The Big Ten will officially disclose its six-team divisions -- and 2011 and 2012 schedules -- at 6 p.m. Chicago time during a 90-minute show on the Big Ten Network. Commissioner Jim Delany will be in studio.

The Ohio State-Michigan game will continue to be played at the end of the regular season, according to the Associated Press. [Man, is that a shocker or what.  I would never have dreamed that!]

The other yearly cross-over games reportedly will be:Northwestern-Illinois, Penn State-Nebraska, Wisconsin-Minnesota, Purdue-Iowa and Indiana-Michigan State.
Perhaps the only better scenario for PSU would have been to swap Nebraska and OSU, but since we already have OSU as a dedicated team, the schedule would look pretty much the same anyway--i.e. we would play both every year anyway.