Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick & Treat

On a dark Halloween evening, with scary ghouls like Denard Robison scaring fans and players alike, it was a wily old coach who pulled a trick out of his bag with a fake field goal to seal the deal on a shoot out that made Beaver Stadium look like the OK Corral.  The Lions out lasted the Wolverines 41-31 before an energetic crowd and student white-out.

For Penn State, it was redemption.  It was a win to salvage an otherwise dismal season.  It was a prime time victory as the underdog going up against a ranked--albeit 25th in only one poll--team.  It was another payback for a string of losses at the hands of the Evil Empire Up North.  A win over THEM is ALWAYS a wonderful and special thing.

We sat near some UM fans, wearing those winged helmet things.  Their attitude summed up the fan base as I have had the displeasure of meeting to date.  Before THEM kicked their field goal, they were mouthing off that UM would NOT kick a field goal.,  They didn't have a field goal kicker.  They would go for it.  When they did line up to kick the field goal, these two buffoons "couldn't watch."  "Here comes the shank."  The guy split the uprights.

These fans of THEM are the same ones that all week talked about how bad their defense was, and how nervous they were about this game . . . . but deep down inside they already had this W chalked up.  It was lip service and nothing less.  They truly expected to win.  They own Penn State after all.  They were stunned that they did not win.

But stunned they should be.  A third string quarterback on a middle of the pack Big Ten team just beat THEM.  The betting line was only 2.5 points, but from reading the message boards and listening to the analysts this week, you would have thought THEM was favored by 7 touchdowns.  I'm surprised Penn State even bothered to show up.

But show up we did.  With our pathetic offensive line that allowed only one sack.  With our struggling running back who set a school record for career yardage.  With our third string QB walk-on, the first walk-on QB to ever start a game at Penn State, who calmly led this team to 41 points and nary an interception or turn-over.  With our addled, elderly and befuddled coach that sadly the game has passed by.

Mere words cannot express the joy and pleasure this game brought to a Penn State fan like me, and I am sure to millions across the country.   The two THEM fans did not return to their seats after halftime.  I didn't miss them.

Penn State won this game in several key areas.  First, they came out pumped and excited and tempered that with confidence.  Granted, our offense performed well because of their poor defense, but we could just as easily have struggled to put up 21 points on the board the way we played against the Illini.  Yes--they have a royally awful, putrid defense.  But we took advantage of that as well as we could.  We brings me to key point number two . . .

We had a great game plan.  We passed on first down!  We didn't force McGloin to hand off the ball and play into what little strength THEM had on defense.  Eight different receivers caught passes.  Other teams torched their secondary, and we likewise took advantage of that.  There are very few games in this particular series where our gameplan helped us win the game.  This was one of them.

McGloin silenced his critics.  He was key to this victory.  He did not flinch.  He attacked.  His run to secure a first down was not as athletic as his counterpart in piss yellow and blue, but it was wonderful to watch and it kept the drive alive.  Is there a QB controversy brewing at Penn State?  Probably not.  I suspect Bolden will be back when medically cleared.  But our depth at that position is no longer a question mark or concern.

Receivers hung onto balls.  Royster twisted and strained and second- and third-efforted his way to a first down on a fourth and short, with a will that could not be denied.  Zordich blew into the end zone like a locomotive on fire.  This was a team that was playing to win and that alone made me proud, regardless of outcome.

Defensively, we held the wolverines to a three and out on their first possession.  This may have been the biggest key to victory--keeping THEM off the board first.

When we scored to make it 21-10, there was over three minutes left on the clock.  I turned to my friend and lamented that we left way too much time for Robinson.  But on the ensuing kick-off, THEM fumbled the ball out of bounds at the two, and our defense pinned back their ears.  They forced a second three and out in the half, and PSU took over with a short field after the punt.  We iced the deal with another score before the half making it 28-10.  This was huge because I think it took THEM out of their gameplan and forced them away from Robinson on the ground as much.

When Robinson pulled his team within a touchdown, Penn State answered back with a field goal that Wagner drilled to keep us up two scores.  Like Michael Myers and Jason, this Penn State team would not die.  But neither did the beast on the other side of the ball.

The fake field goal was another key play.  It did not change the score in the game, but THEM had used their final time out just prior to the snap.  There was 3:44 still on the clock, and plenty of time for a quick Robinson strike and on-side kick that would send the stomach acid level to heart burn proportions.  But Wagner made the first down, and it was not easy.  He had to cut the play outside and sprint to the sideline to make enough yardage, but like so many players before him--Zordich, McGloin, Royster--he willed himself to make the yardage.  Penn State kept possession and the frighteningly quick Robinson never got the chance to try on the glass slipper.

The crowd was fantastic!  Thanks to the crowd noise, Robinson had to burn a timeout early in the third quarter, which left them with only two during crunch time.  On the third and fourth down plays on THEM's final possession, the stadium noise was as loud as any other time, though not as sustained as Nebraska in 2002 or Ohio State in 2005.  This game rates a close third, though.

The only disappointment of the night were the empty seats in the student section.  (And yes, there looked to be some in the upper deck of the south end zone.)  But for the students--the so-called best student section in the country--this is unacceptable.  What are the excuses this week?  Apparently, there must be a lot of tests on Monday for which you had to study.  The senior and junior sections NEVER filled up.  It is NOT a problem of getting in.  There was a facebook movement--Project 7--that apparently failed to get the student section filled before the game.  But to the students who did show up--great job!

All in all, the night was a fabulous night to treasure and remember.  A real sweet Halloween treat!


Penn State only punted twice in the game.

Penn State amassed 27 first downs to 19 for THEM.

Our beleagured D held THEM to 432 yards, nearly 100 less than they were averaging.  We actually outgained them by 12 yards!

NO turn-overs in the game by either squad.

On third down conversions, they were 6 of 13 while we were 10-16.  We were 2-2 on fourth down and held THEM to 1-3 on fourth.

Penn State won time of possession 37:29 to 22:31.  A-maize-ing!


The drum major stuck both flips and PSU won the toss and deferred. 

JoePa notched win #399.

Crowd attendance was 108,539.  Imagine if the student section had been full!

Evan Royster took the lead as all-time rusher in Penn State history.  Congratulations Evan!


Michigan State fell at Iowa 37-6.  Wow.  Just . . . wow.

Illoinois defeated Purdue 44-10.

Northwestern edged Indiana 20-17 but Wildcat QB Persa left the game with an apparent concussion.

The Buckeyes blasted Minnesota 52-10.  Aren't they great?

Wisconsin had a bye.

Four teams have one loss in the conference:  MSU, Iowa, Wisconsin and OSU.


1.  Notre Dame--lost to Tulsa 28-27 after throwing an INT in the endzone with 36 seconds left.
2.  Sparty--whacked by Iowa
3.  Missouri--beaten by Nebraska 31-17
4.  F$U--fumbled away a chance to beat NC State
5.  WVU--lost to UConn for the first time ever.


Northwestern comes to Beaver Stadium next Saturday for a 3:30 kickoff.

Here is how the Wildcats have played to date:

W Vanderbilt 23-21
W Illinois State 37-3
W Rice 30-13
W Central Mich 30-25
W Minnesota 29-28
L Purdue 20-17
L Michigan State 35-27
W Indiana 20-17

In the only common opponent  to date, they struggled more with Minnesota.  They led for much of the game against Sparty, but apparently MSU is reverting back to their old form after losing to Iowa badly this weekend.

None of their wins are against opponents with a winning record (Indiana is at .500).

Granted, our resume is not much better, but Temple has a winning record, as does THEM.  Our team has shown some improvement for the first time this season, and NW may be without their starting QB depending on the concussion injury.

I predicted this a win in the pre-season, and I stand by that.  Of course, I would have had JoePa winning #400 against the wolverines, but better late than never.





Friday, October 29, 2010

Better Late than Never

My ISP was down last night, so the Weekly Game Guide is a day late and a dollar short.

F$U lost to NC State last night, fumbling in the red zone on what should have been a game winning drive.  Ponder fumbled after brushing against his own teammate.  NC State won 28-24.  Watching F$U lose isn't as much fun without Bobby on the sidelines--but almost.

Tonight, the big least showcases WVU against UConn.  The Neer's are favored by 6.  But who cares?

In the Big Ten:

PSU is a 2.5 point dog to the wolverines.  GO STATE!  BEAT THEM!

The Buckeyes travel to Minnesota and are huge favorites--25.5 points.  GO GOPHERS!

Illinois is a 15 point favorite over Purdue.  GO BOILERS!

Iowa is a 4 point fave over the undefeated Spartans.  GO SPARTY!

Northwestern is but a 3 point favorite over Indiana.  Pick your poison here.

Wisconsin has a bye.

Previous Opponents:

Temple is a 27 point fave over Akron.  Go Owls!

Kent State is a 9 point favorite over Ball State.  Go Flashes!

The Crimson Tide have a bye week before facing LSU.

YSU (3-5) face off against Northern Iowa this week.

Other games of remote interest:

Tulane is a 9.5 underdog to Notre Dame.  Go Green Wave!  oops that's Tulsa--Go Golden Hurricanes!

Auburn is an 8.5 favorite on the road at Ole Miss.  Go Rebels!

Oregon is a 6 point road favorite over the USC Trojans.  Go Ducks!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Funny

You'e probably seen many of the Hitler parodies--where scenes from the movie are taken and the subtitles changed to make a comical skit.  Here's one from YouTube  by American Ale House.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I Can't Gopher That

Nooo.  No can do.

It was a win, and that was about all that could be said about this scrimmage with the Golden Gophers of Minnesota.

And that is what this game felt like--a scrimmage.  We saw lots of players getting playing time--all three quarterbacks for Penn State played.  Penn State never trailed in the game and you never got the sense that we would lose, but the final product was not really what it seemed.

Minnesota outgained Penn State 433 to 351 yards and won time of possession by almost 7 minutes.  They had more first downs (26-17) and Penn State went 2-10 on third down.  They were coached by an interim coach whose career record as a head coach was 20-48.  And in his head coaching debut at Minnesota, Horton heard a boo.  Or two.

Perhaps the turning point of the game came when D'Anton Lynn made an interception in the Gopher endzone when the pesky little varmints were only down by 7.  He returned said interception 58 yards.  Third string QB Matt McGloin then came in and threw a 42-yard bomb to Derek Moye that put the Lions up 21-7 at the half.  That was a 10-14 point turn around right there.

Unfortunately, there was still another half of football to go, and the Nittany Lions were outscored 12-14 in the second half that included a 2 point safety.  Any momentum Penn State gained from that two play series was quashed on the opening drive when the little goofball gophers pushed us (literally--I kid you not) down the field and scored to make it a seven point game once again.  75 yards on 11 plays controlling the clock for over 6 minutes.  Where were our halftime defensive adjustments?  We adjusted the wrong things.

But somehow, we managed not to muck things up and came away with our first Big Ten conference win of the season.  I'll pause whilst you throw confetti, toot your horns and celebrate unabashedly.

Why am I not more happy about this win?  Have you looked at our schedule?  Have you seen any of the other teams left on our schedule play?  Have you seen us play?  Well, then you do the math.  You may only be able to celebrate one more time this season, and I'm not even certain of that.

Worse yet, Bolden may have suffered a concussion, so his status for this week is questionable.  As good as he looked as a passer in this game, he was absolutely awful running the ball.  What's worse, is that I thought our offense would be much better if he were allowed to run more.  I was wrong.  He draws defenders like flies to a dead carcass and the results smell the same.  It's like he sees a hole and then runs away from it like it's going to suck him into some other dimension.

That is not to say there weren't positives in this game.  The only thing worse than this win would have been if we had lost.  At least we didn't screw that up.

I do think the kids came out with a lot more intensity than they did against Illinois--or any other team to date.  It didn't necessarily translate into better play on the lines of scrimmage, but it is a start.

Our third string back-up QB seems just as capable of scoring points as our starter.  Is this good or bad?  It depends on your perspective.  You could argue that this epiphany is more a testament to how bad our starting offense is, as it is proof that our back-ups are just as good.

Despite some doom and gloomers, I do think there is talent on this team.  We see flashes of it every once and a while, like sunshine popping through a gray sky every now and then.  But there are more storm clouds approaching, and the weather is getting colder.  We could really use some more sunshine.  The future may be bright, but the present is still pretty cloudy.

But we are now ninth in a conference of eleven teams.  Is there anything else good we can say about our team at this point?

Oh yeah!  Thank God we don't have to play Wisconsin!


Joe Paterno notches win #398.  TCF Bank Stadium is the 65th stadium Paterno has coached in during his career.  Who keeps track of things like that?

Attendance was listed as 48,479, but Carolyn Todd was there and said an estimate of 35,000 seemed high for actual bodies in the stands.

Penn State is now 8-4 against the Gophers.


Wisconsin rolled over a highly ranked team for the second week in a row, this time knocking off Iowa 31-30 on a fake punt in the fourth quarter and game-winning TD with 1:06 to go in the game.

Michigan State survived a scare by Northwestern, coming from behind on the road to win 35-27.

The Buckeyes rebounded from their loss to the Badgers with a woodshed beating of Purdue, 49-0.

Illinois defeated Indiana 43-13.

So the Spartans stand alone on the Big Ten hill and four teams have only one loss--OSU, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Purdue.  Indiana and Minnesota have yet to win a conference game.


1.  Oklahoma--#1 (BCS) falls for the third straight week as the Sooners are upset by Missouri.
2.  Notre Dame--Navy is really taking this rivalry thing seriously.
3.  Texas--upset by Iowa State for their first win over the Longhorns
4.  LSU--burned by Auburn 24-17
5.  West Virginia--squeezed by the Orange 19-14


The Wolverines of THEM  (as in, THE "M") come to Beaver Stadium for a prime time showdown.  Two things have basically defined their season--1) poor defense and 2) Denard Robinson.  There is no doubt that if Penn State is going to win this game, they will need to neutralize Robinson.

But the Penn State offense will have to show up as well.  It is the immovable object meeting the immovable force.  A poor defense against a poor offense.  Who will win the match-up?  In the pre-season, I liked our chances at home against THEM.  But having actually seen our performance on the field, I don't know if we can pull this one out or not.  I don't think we can win a shoot-out--we don't have the offensive consistency or confidence to do that.  But we cannot expect our defense--certainly not the way they have been playing---to keep THEM off the scoreboard.

The Wolverines cracked the USA Today Poll at #25.  They are 5-2 overall with an identical conference record to us.  Here is their season to date:

W  Connecticut 30-10
W  Notre Dame 28-24
W  U Mass 42-37
W  Bowling Green 65-21
W  Indiana 42-35
L  Michigan State 34-17
L  Iowa 38-28

Their marquee win over the Irish is fading as fast as our marquee victory over Temple.  The Irish are now 4-4 with an OT loss to the Spartans.

Can Penn State come to play next Saturday?  Can we translate some emotion into some execution?  Will Bolden be back, or will we be platooning Newsome and McGloin.  I am actually kind of neutral in this respect--i.e. I don't know which would be better for us.  I do know that Clark didn't do well after a concussion versus the Buckeyes in 2008, so I kind of hope we don't rush things with Bolden this week.  On the other hand, Bolden looked pretty good before his injury. . . I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thursday Night Game Guide

Oregon takes on UCLA tonight.  The Ducks are big favorites.  The state of Idaho is rooting for the Bruins.

Whom do we root for?

Here's the action in the Big Ten this weekend.

The Lions travel to Minnesota.  Paterno may not feel this is a must-win game, but this is a must-win game for the Lions if ever there was one.  PSU is favored by 9.  GO STATE!  BEAT GOPHERS!

Purdue takes on the wounded Buckeyes.  OSU is a heavy favorite--23.5 points.  Can the Bucks recover?  Let's hope not.  GO BOILERS!

The undefeated Spartans face the Northwestern Wildcats and are favored by 5.  GO SPARTY!

Iowa is a 5.5 favorite over the Buckeye killing Badgers.  ON WISCONSIN!

Illinois is favored by 13.5 over Indiana.  GO HOOSIERS!

Denard Robinson has a bye week.

In battles featuring past opponents:

Kent State is favored by 2 over Bowling Green.  GO FLASHES!

Temple is the 7.5 point fave over Buffalo.  GO OWLS!

Alabama is a 16.5 point favorite over the Volunteers.  GO TIDE!

In other games of note:

The Irish are favored by a TD over the midshipmen.  GO NAVY!

And as for UCLA-Oregon---GO Bruins!  Bust that BCS!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Minnesota Fires Brewster

The University of Minnesota fired their head coach this weekend after a 28-17 loss to Purdue.  That's kind of harsh isn't it?

But Minnesota has not lived up to the Glen Mason era, yet alone an age gone by, where Minnesota football actually meant something.

According to Rittenberg at ESPN:
I can't remember how many times I heard Brewster mention Minnesota's 18 Big Ten championships and six national championships, never mind the fact that neither event had happened since 1967.

Brewster knew the bar needed to be raised in Minneapolis. You couldn't blame him for aiming high. Why else would the school fire a coach (Glen Mason) who consistently made bowl games?

Brewster went 15-30 at Minnesota and 7-18 since November 2008.

Co-offensive coordinator Jeff Horton will take over for Brewster on an interim basis.

Unfortunately for Horton, his team will face a Penn State squad that hopefully will be coming out to prove something--something besides the fact that they are not a very good football team.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Say Goodnight, Dick

Good night DICK FOUST.  Your team lost.

The Mighty Pryors of Columbus, anointed #1 for exactly one week, fell to the Badgers in Madison, Wisconsin tonight.  Terrell Pryor sealed the deal with a fine interception.  I loved every minute of it.

And to think I didn't think it could get any better after THEM lost and the Pittsburgh Penguins won.  But then it did.

In the Big Ten:

Did I mention that Wisconsin upset the Buckeyes 31-18?

Michigan State defeated Illinois 26-6.  They are 7-0 for the first time since 1966.

Iowa beat THEM in Ann Arbor before a record crowd of disappointed fans, 38-28.

Purdue beat the Gophers 28-17.

The Hoosiers outlasted Arkansas State 36-34.

In other games:

Nebraska fell to Texas 20-13.

South Carolina fell to Kentucky 31-28.  It is the first time Spurrier lost to Kentucky in his career.

Sleep well, DICK.  You deserve it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Weekly Game Guide

Whom do we root for this week?

Fortunately, Penn State cannot lose this week!  Woo Hoo!

SCORE ALERT . . . . Illinois just scored again . . . .

In the Big Ten:

The Columbus Pryors are favored by 4 points against the Badgers in Madison.  GO BADGERS!

Iowa is favored by 3 over the Wolverines.  Hmmmm.  If we really had a chance to still win the Big Ten, I'd say go wolverines, but since we realistically don't given the way we are playing, let's GO HAWKEYES!

Purdue is favored over the Gophers by 5 and half.  GO GOPHERS!

Illinois is a 7 point dog to the Spartans.  GO SPARTY!

Indiana is favored by 12 over Arkansas State.  GO HOOSIERS!

Northwestern has a bye as well.

In games involving previous opponents:

Alabama looks to rebound against Ole Miss and is favored by 21.5 points.  ROLL TIDE ROLL!

Temple is a 19.5 point fave over Bowling Green.  GO OWLS!

Kent State is a 2.5 point dog to Holy Toledo.  GO FLASHES!

Younstown State takes on Western Illinois.  GO PENGUINS!

In other games of remote interest:

Pitt is a 1.5 point underdog to SYRACUSE.  You can't make stuff like this up!  GO ORANGE!

The Irish are big favorites over Western Michigan.  GO BRONCOS!

Speaking of Broncos, Boise State was projected as #1 in the pre-BCS standings and take on San Jose State this week.  Boise State is a 39.5 point favorite.  GO BRONCOS!  BUST THAT BCS!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010


It's 6 a.m. The alarm goes off, playing "I got you Babe." The DJ comes on, "Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooold out there today."
It's coooold out there every day. . . when you lose.

And then, we Penn State fans get out of bed and we relive the same game over and over again, trapped in a never ending cycle of dropped passes, missed opportunities, slow starts, bad coaching decisions, clock mismanagement, youthful inexperience, and excuses.

Illinois was a great team. We were licked. We got our ears kicked in. Maybe we were outcoached. The whole bit.

Sound familiar? Welcome again to Groundhog Day, starring Jay Paterno as Phil Connors and Ron Zook as Ned Ryerson.  It never ends.

Truth be told, the weather wasn’t coooold. It was great. It was the only redeeming thing about the entire day, except for Michigan State winning. Does Denard Robinson have to return his Heisman?

Things started out so well. We usually give up an early score—being that we are a better second half team. Illinois even had the unmitigated gall to go for it on fourth down on their own 29 yard line.  We should have known then that things were not going to go well.

But on the first possession, we eventually forced an Illini punt that they left roll into our endzone for a touchback. Royster rushed for 8 yards on the first play. That was probably his best rush of the day—and possibly for the whole team.

Despite second and two, we couldn’t get a first down and we punted. Jack Ramsey fumbled the punt and Penn State recovered at the Illini 23. Holy crap! We were three yards away from the red zone. I don’t know about you, but I was terrified.

Now most teams—at least teams that want to win—would go for the jugular at this point. Throw one to the end zone. Take your best shot. Catch the defense on their heels, that sort of thing. But I just knew that our wily coaching staff wasn’t going to go for any of that new fangled garbage. I figured right then and there we would run the ball three times to set up the field goal.

We did! Three straight runs up the middle, but we actually eked out a first down. We then threw an 8 yard pass to Silas Redd. A pass on first down! I know! I can’t believe it either. It probably worked because Illinois couldn’t believe it either!

So we followed it with a run up the middle that went nowhere. An incomplete pass finished the promising drive and an illegal procedure call iced it for good measure. Bring in Wagner and the Penn State Patented FG was on the board. We limped into the second quarter up 3-0. I’m okay with this at this point. We’re a second half team and the best is yet to come.

But first some angst. Illinois opened the second quarter by concluding an 11 play, 80 yard touchdown drive to take the lead for good, although at this point, I was still disillusioned (deluded) enough to think we still had a chance. After all, we’re a better second half team. We all know how Bama and Iowa scored a ton of points in the first half and how we shut them down in the second. I could almost see the wheels turning in Bradley’s defensive mind through my binoculars. We just needed to keep things close.

Despite good field position, we fail to convert a fourth and one and turned the ball over on downs. Somehow, we manage to force a three and out, but after the punt, field position had turned against us. From inside our 20, Bolden tried to loft one over a defender, but doesn’t loft enough. (He does later in the game when the receiver is wide open but not ten feet tall.) His touch was absent today and he looked uncomfortable—more so than he did against Bama. He actually seems to be regressing, but that couldn’t happen with our fine coaching staff guiding this young man.  Maybe he just had a bad day--I know I did.

Anyway, the defender tips, intercepts and then returns the ball for a touchdown. The Illini are now up 14-3. Not insurmountable for a second half team.

But then Bolden redeems himself—to a degree—with an 80 yard strike to Moye, if you count a woefully underthrown ball to a wide open receiver a strike. Thank God he had ten yards on the defender or it likely would have been intercepted. But the important thing is the score is now 14-10 and that’s great for a strong second half team.  We beat Miami 14-10 but that has absolutely nothing to do with this discussion.

Illinois promptly marched down the field and kicked a field goal to make the score 17-10. We beat Ohio State 17-10 but again that has nothing to do with this game.  And compared to the final score, that would have been fantastic. But alas, the game continued.

We went back to the old punt the ball away and hope that something good happens ploy. It did. Jack be nimble, Jack be Blunt, Jack Ramsey fumbled another punt. This time we take possession inside the 10 yard line. Inside the red zone. I am really, really, scared at this point. Surely with all the years of experience that our coaching staff has, they will come up with some play calling to tie this game up.

What was I thinking? Our staff runs Royster up the gut twice, and to his credit, he gained five yards instead of losing any. But on third and five, in what most defensive coordinators would have guessed to be a passing situation, we tried a pass. It didn’t work. I could cry. I think I did. Watching Wagner trot onto the field in the red zone is like fingernails raking across a chalkboard.

But 17-13 is okay for a second half team. If only we could hold them. Surely, our defensive brain trust is making adjustments. This isn’t Alabama we’re facing. Or Iowa. We’ll just shut them down, and come out and take the lead in the second half.

Apparently, the sky isn’t blue in whatever world I’m pretending to be in. With only 2:43 on the clock, the Illini move the ball down the field like Sherman marching through Georgia. But the Illini run out of downs—and time—and kick a field goal to end the half.

We are but a touchdown away, and we are a second half team. I can barely sit still during halftime, but it may be because of my hemorrhoids.

We got the ball first and are poised for an amazing comeback. It all started with a three and out made possible by our tried and true formula of running twice and then passing on an obvious passing down. Sooner or later we are going to play a team that doesn’t know what we will do before we do it. And by God, this game plan will work then! I really wonder if we know what we’ll do before we do it, for if we did, surely we wouldn’t do it in the first place. But I digress.

I think we were expecting Ramsey to fumble the punt again, but our best play of the day failed on this punt. The Illini marched the ball downfield like a tornado tearing through a trailer park and before I could blink my unbelieving disillusioned eyes, we were now down 27-13.

It’s okay. We’re within 5 field goals. It is still possible to win this game. I was thinking that then. I am typing that now. But my confidence is fading (and I now know the outcome.)

So here we sit at the bottom of the Big Ten, oh for two in conference play and three up on the season. Our inexperienced QB looks more inexperienced now than before he had experience. Our offensive line seems to be getting worse, but is that even possible? I really thought our defense was going to be the shining light in this season, but we can’t keep a pimply faced nerd in an all-boys school from scoring.  But we kick ass in the field goal department.

Everywhere I look there is nothing but anguish and frustration. I can handle losing to Bama. I don’t like it but a loss to Iowa isn’t that bad. But this? This???? Illinois? Who’s never won on our turf before? Next thing you’re going to tell me is that we lose to Indiana for the first time ever. I may have to kill myself. I don’t like this real world of which you speak.

I see no heart on this team.  No leadership.  No fire.  No enthusiasm.  No improvement.  I am tired of hearing how young we are--we are now halfway through the season.

I am no longer disillusioned. I am disgusted. Dismayed. Disgruntled. Just generally dissed.


Illinois only punted 3 times.

Twice, Illinois fumbled punts deep in their territory. Twice, PSU settled for a FG.

Penn State had 7 first downs in the game. Illinois had 23.

Illinois won time of possession 38:12 to 21:48.

Bolden threw one INT—returned for a TD.

65 yards rushing and 170 passing. Pathetic.


Penn State won the toss and deferred.

The Drum Major stuck both flips. The Alumni Band performed.

Illinois won for the first time ever at Beaver Stadium.

The homecoming crowd was 107,638. All but a handful of orange-clad fans were disappointed.

Paterno is now 45-6 in homecoming games.  The worst loss is 1999's upset to Minnesota.  The 6-4 loss to Iowa comes in the top three.  This loss, though, is worse on a different level.  I still give the overall prize to 1999 because it cost us a national title.  This loss only cost us pride and a dark horse chance at a Big Ten Title.  It is unfortunately a clinic exhibition of all the things wrong with our program right now.


The New #1 team in the country downed the Hoosiers 38-10.

Michigan State beat Little Brother 34-17.

The Badgers beat Minnesota 41-23.

Northwestern is leading Purdue 17-13 in the fourth quarter as I write this.  Purdue beat Northwestern 20-17.  Thank Heavens we don't have to play the Boilermakers!

Iowa did not play.


1. For Bama—upset by the Gamecocks. Thanks for hurting our strength of schedule guys!

2. For Big Ten fans—who now have to endure the number 1 ranked Pryors of Columbus

3. For Temple—losers to Northern Illinois 31-17. Kind of takes the shine off our marquee victory.

4. For Miami—guess F$U doesn’t miss Bobby much.

5. For Penn State—we get to lose to TWO #1 teams in the same season!


Bye week. Thank God. I don’t think I can take much more of this season.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Weekly Game Guide

Brought to you by the makers of Spud Lite (TM), a low calorie, foul tasting Vodka made with Boise State potatoes.  Don't just make it a light--make it a Spud Lite!

Bottoms up as you watch your favorite high school team under the lights tonight, or just kick back and enjoy the best of Big Least football.

So Whom Do We Root for this week?

Obviously, we are rooting against the Illini, who come into Beaver Stadium for homecoming a 7.5 point dog.

Michigan State takes on little brother THEM in the OutHouse.  Denard Robinson is a 5 point favorite.  Go Sparty!  And if facing your in-state rival isn't pressure enough, a life may hang in the balance.  Major Hester, a MSU fan, has delayed having a pacemaker until after the game Saturday, saying that  he can't risk something going wrong on the operating room table that would keep him from seeing this game.  Now that's a true fan.  I hope the game isn't too close or exciting!

The Buckeyes are big favorites over the Hoosiers (25 points.)  Little hope, but hey, Go Hoosiers anyway!

Wisconsin is a 20 point favorite over the hapless Gophers.  We don't play the Badgers, so GO GOPHERS!

Northwestern is a 10.5 favorite over the Bopilermakers.  Go Wildcats!  Stuff Perdue!

Iowa is off before facing THEM on the road next week.

In other games of interest:

Big Ten 2 B Cornhuskers took KState out to the woodshed last night, 44-13.

The Irish host Pitt and are 6 point favorites.  Who do we root for?  How about an Irish win in quadruple OT?

Alabama is an 8 point favorite over Spurrier's gamecocks.  Can the Ol' ball coach pull off the upset?

Boise State is a 38.5 point favorite over Toldeo?  They might score a hundred.

Prior opponents:

Temple is a 1.5 dog to Northern Illinois.  GO OWLS!

Kent State is a 16.5 point fave over the Akron Zips.  GO FLASHES!

YSU takes on North Dakota State, the team that upset Kansas to open their season.  GO PENGUINS!

And yes, the Penguins lost to the Fryers 3-2, adding more suckage to my sports life.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Is the Sky Falling?

Devon at NittanyWhiteOut says no!  And you should read this. But if you haven't the time, here are the basic points he makes:
Remember, this is the best Iowa team in decades. They were ranked in the top 10 to start the year, they returned virtually every impact player from that Orange Bowl Champion team of a year ago, and their one loss, to Arizona, was about as fluky as a loss could be. Nobody predicted Penn State to win this game before the season started. So why, exactly, is this loss cause for panic?

Penn State wasn’t “outclassed” or “outcoached,” they lost to a better team. Give Iowa their due–this isn’t 2008 or 2002, or even 2009.

And did we really expect an offensive line that has one experienced player to hold at bay a defensive line that features at least 3 NFL-caliber players?

Look: things are only going to get better, folks. We chalked this one up as a loss in the preseason, and I’m more than willing to write it off. We didn’t lose to Kent State or Temple. We’re not going to lose to Illinois, or Minnesota. We all knew this would be a rebuilding year, that we’d be setting up for a Big Ten championship run in 2011 and 2012. Even despite the struggles of the early season, I’m still confident in that projection.

It’s a rhetorical question. I honestly don’t care. If you’re ignorant enough to demand Joe’s resignation, then I don’t want to hear what you have to say.
I have had time to calm down since watching this game.  I feel bad about going postal all over our punter, who did manage to uncork a 70 yarder that flipped field position at one point.  But I used the punter as an example of poor preparation by the staff--not having recruited a person to punt and not preparing a punter for pinning an opponent deep.

As for giving Iowa credit--they are a good team.  But not a great one.  I'm sorry, I just don't see that.  Maybe they'll prove me wrong and win out, but I doubt it.  And the exceptions Devon noted--2002, 2008 and 2009 unfortunately weaken his argument.  We arguably and probably had the better team each of those three years--AND LOST.  Coaching has to be part of the problem as the players in 2008 were not on the 2002 team.  It wasn't this ONE loss that angers fans--it's the string of losses that is becoming intolerable.

I still think the vast majority of fans are simply frustrated.  It is hard to watch teams like Ohio State and Alabama, and Oklahoma, etc. reload year after year.  (Granted, there are cycles and they have had their hard times too.  But after they right the ship, they are there for a good run.)  But then we seem capable of making the Top ten once every 4 years or so, if that.

We have never been in a BCS Championship Game.

We have three Big Ten Titles in 16 years.  That averages to one every FIVE years, despite the fact that two have come in the past four seasons.  (And those were SHARED!)

BUT I AM NOT CALLING FOR JOE'S RETIREMENT.  Never have.  I happen to be in the camp that believes he has earned the right to decide when to ride off into the sunset, even if he is no longer objective enough to make that call.

What I am saying--pleading--is that he make some changes to make PSU more competitive.  Among these:

1)  RECRUIT.  Get out there and wow the kids and parents.  Who cares if the whole school shuts down when you show up.  Do you think that stops Saban?  That kind of attention impresses these kids who are easily distratced by texting and Twitter and God awful uniforms at Oregon.  If you don't feel you have the right players to compete--DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT instead of making it an excuse.

2)  Get a Special Teams Coach.  Penn State nation is going to be ponying up some pretty pennies with the new STEP program.  Let's just admit that this is an area that has cost us some games and maybe we need to address it.  Better yet--don't admit anything.  Just do it.  Make it sound like it was your idea.  I'm okay with that.

3)  Be creative.  Use Newsome on some short yardage situations.  Better yet, bring him in making the other team think you're going to run the option then have him pass.  Catch them off guard.  Do things that will have people saying, 'Did Joe Call That Play?'  I'm not talking about gimmicks like faking a punt from your own 20 or putting Bolden out in the slot, or complicated plays that take too long to set up and are doomed by a poor offensive line.

4) Which brings me to the most important point.  The Offensive Line.  You need to do something about this, whether it's recruiting or development.  If you have to, find a nice administrative position with an office next to Fran Ganter's for Kenney and Anderson.  They aren't getting the job done.  Every school has to deal with attrition from graduation, early bolts to the NFL and loss of eligibility.  But not every school--especially elite programs like we aspire to be--has to wait three to four years to have a great line.

Finally, Lavar Arrington chimes in with an answer to the question, should Joe go?
College athletics isn't all about wins and loses for a team. I learned from Coach Paterno there's so much more. Coach Paterno has molded and shaped the lives of countless numbers of young adults. I visit with players every year at my alma mater, and the most interesting stories I hear sound exactly the same as the stories I've told myself and heard from greats like Jack Ham and Blair Thomas when I was in school.
When those stories change, then maybe we will have to accept the sad reality that the last living coach comparable to the late, great Vince Lombardi needs to retire. But that hasn't happened yet. Joe continues to have a very positive affect on these young guys.

Life lessons like responsibility, accountability, confidence, solid work ethic, compassion, respect. I could continue the list, but it would get too long. I think you get the point.

Paterno, has earned the right, assuming he is of a sound mind and body, to decide when to call it quits.

I am a Penn State Nittany Lion, and I played for the legendary Joe Paterno, and more importantly, I am a man because of it.
And remember, we fans complain because we care.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

De Ja Blue All Over Again

It's 6 a.m.  The alarm goes off, playing "I got you Babe."  The DJ comes on, "Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooold out there today."

It's coooold out there every day. . . when you lose.

And then, we Penn State fans get out of bed and we relive the same game over and over again, trapped in a never ending cycle of dropped passes, missed opportunities, slow starts, bad coaching decisions, clock mismanagement, youthful inexperience, and excuses.

_____ was a great team.  We were licked.  We got our ears kicked in.  Maybe we were outcoached.  The whole bit.

It's Groundhog Day without the humor of Bill Murray.

No one really expected us to win against Iowa.  Or Alabama.  But most Penn State fans would like to have seen our team be competitive.  At least for more than the pregame ceremonies and coin toss.  Wouldn't it be nice to make the other team sweat a little?  Maybe go into the fourth quarter only down by one score, rather than losing by three?  Is an upset every now and then too much to ask for?  Hell, we get upset more often than we beat teams who were favored.

Wouldn't it be nice to actually score a touchdown in a big game?

I read recently that as a team since 2000, Penn State is 3-17 versus ranked teams on the road.  In 13 of those games we didn't score a touchdown.

Ponder that for a moment.  I'll wait.  It's not like I've got anything to celebrate.  Even the Steelers lost today.  My life pretty much sucks.  But I digress.

Even in our best seasons of late, the spectre of football shortcomings appears.  Kicking off to Breaston in 2005.  A late INT and PI against Iowa in 2008.  A blocked punt versus Iowa in 2009.

It is certainly not Paterno's fault that punt was blocked.  But there was a breakdown in protection and it cost us the game.  Almost everyone squib kicks with seconds remaining on the clock--yet we kicked away to Breaston.  We frittered time away on the last possession of the first half this week, only to come up one play short and have to settle for a field goal.  Maybe that was karma--had we tried to score 6 and failed, we might have been shut out.

But when does the blame for the general sideline confusion and clock mismanagement not fall on the head coach?

Greg Couch wrote a telling article--and in it he concluded that Paterno should continue coaching as long as he wants.  But, he also said these things:
Oh, what a mess. This was something I hoped I would never see, a picture of Paterno that I don't want to be left with.
"We call plays and we've got to stick with the plays," Penn State receiver Devon Smith said. "Players come in and players run out."

Where is the problem?

"Kind of upstairs."

Theoretically, he wasn't talking about God, but rather the assistant coaches in the press box.

Fourth down: The offense lines up, but is about to be called for delay of game. Timeout. Then, Bolden tries to run the ball in, but is stopped.
"They came out in that play before they (called timeout)," Iowa linebacker Jeremiha Hunter said. "Then they came out in the same play."

So Iowa knew what to do.
What team doesn't know what to do against Penn State/Paterno?  This game alone was a study in frustration--just like the Alabama game earlier.  Even the final score was the same.

Penn State got off to a slow start, falling behind early.  The defense tightened up--or the opposing coach left his foot off the gas--you decide.  The offense had flashes of brilliance surrounded by ineptness that resembled an episode of the Keystone Kops.  This is the fifth game of the season--clock management issues should not still be a problem--especially multiple issues.  Dropped passes happen, but they are killing us.

And then down by 2 scores with four minutes to play, we punt the ball from midfield.  I should have turned the TV off then and went to bed.  The staff gave up--why should we fans not give up as well?  Any nightmare I might have had would not compare with the rest of the game at this point. 

After pinning them deep at their 22 yard line with an amazing 32 yard punt (amazing considering he had a 12 yard punt earlier in the game that set up a short scoring drive) our defense managed to let them run nearly three minutes off the clock before forcing another punt.  Too bad they didn't run out the clock, as Bolden threw a pick-six on the next play that dumped salt into an already festering wound.

Am I down on Fera?  Not really.  No more so than any other aspect of our pathetic game at this point.  Is it really his fault?  This is his first year punting.  Apparently, we haven't recruited anyone else to punt.  This is clearly a problem that lies with coaching--recruiting punters, getting them ready to play, teaching them how to pin an opponent INSIDE the 20, etc.  Same thing with the offensive line. 

Iowa is not that good a team.  Arizona showed the world that.  They somehow managed to get PSU, OSU, and Wisconsin all at home.  They'll win most of the rest of their games and be ranked.

Losing horribly to the number one team in the country isn't shameful.  Losing 8 of the last 9 to Iowa is.  No offense, Iowa.  Not being competitive anymore in big games--or being competitive once or twice in the last decade--is shameful for a school like Penn State which has so much to offer in terms of tradition and facilities.

Yeah, our graduation rate rocks.  So does our fencing team.  Is it too much to ask that our football program--which pays all the bills supposedly--not get a championship too?


sleepy11hollow writes:
Look at what has happened for the past 23 years since that unbelievable 86' Fiesta day victory over the Canes.
*16 different teams have been declared college football champions (Miami, 4 titles, Nebraska (3 titles), Florida (3), Florida State (2), USC (2), Alabama (2), LSU (2), Michigan (1), Ohio State (1), Notre Dame (1), Oklahoma (1), Texas (1), Tenneesee (1), Colorado (1), Georgia Tech (1) and Washington (1).
*7 teams have won multiple titles (look above).

*19 different teams have played for the national title with those teams losing and not winning a title including West Virginia (1), Washington State (1) and Virginia Tech (1)
But we will never return to that level until we can figure out how to "not lose" to teams like Iowa.


Penn State on paper looked much better than they did on the field.  We had two less first downs (15 to 17), slightly less than 3 minutes in time of possession disparity favoring Iowa, and 48 fewer total offensive yards (301 to 349.)

But we had only 54 yards rushing!

We were 1 for 3 in the red zone--and that was a field goal.

We held Iowa to 2 of 10 on third down conversions; but we went 3 for 13. 

We punted 9 times.  We kicked off only once to start the game.

Iowa won the toss and elected to recieve.
Attendance was 70,585.  I thought the alternating GOLD and BLACK stadium sections looked great.  The vertical stripes made the stadium look less fat.
We were Iowa's Homecoming Patsy--and played the part well.
The Buckeyes survived a trip to Illinois 24-13.
Denard Robinson beat Indiana 42-35.
The Spartans, sans their coach Dantonio who was re-admitted with a blood clot in his leg, beat the Badgers 34-24.
Northwestern outlasted Minnesota 29-28.
1.  Tennessee--lost because they had 12 men on the field on the last play.  Gave LSU a chance to run one more play and win.
2.  Florida--lost 31-6 to Bama.  Makes us look better, huh?
3.  Stanford--quacked 52-31 by the Ducks.
4.  Indiana--Who's yer Daddy?  Denard Robinson.
5.  Rutgers--lost 17-14 to Tulane
6.  Boise State--beat New Mexico State 59-0.  Still dropped a spot to Oregon.  Been there.  Done that.
Illinois comes to Beaver Stadium October 9.  Homecoming.
The Illini hosted the Buckeyes this past weekend and didn't make it easy for them.  Pryor missed a series or two due to a quadriceps injury, but he did return to play.
So far for Illinois:
L  Missouri 13-23
W Southern Illinois 35-3
W Northwen Illinois 28-22
L Ohio State 24-13
Penn State still has not played four quarters of football.  We are making too many mistakes.  I still think we win this game, but this team needs to show us that it can handle coming off this loss.  After Bama, we were fortunate enough to host Kent State.  Illinois may not be near the top in the Big Ten, but they are a league above Kent State.  No offense, Golden Flashes.
I just want to see us come out blazing.  Hit them hard and fast and don't let up until the final seconds tick off the clock.  Play with some enthusiasm.  No matter what the crowd yells, guys, each of you players--this team--YOU ARE PENN STATE!

I'm Sick