And in the end, Penn State prevailed, 23-18. But in the Battle of the Boldens, Purdue's may have made a bigger difference in the game. Ralph had 99 all-purpose yards, 97 rushing. Rob had 10 rushing and 40 passing, and twice it looked like he should have made a first down but slid early and came up short.
Penn State seemed to dominate the game, yet the Boilermakers always seemed to be a score away. In the end, there was no domination, although there could have been.
On a partially sunny, really windy Homecoming weekend, Penn State did just about everything possible to lose this game, without actually losing the game.
In our darkest years, Paterno always insisted we were a "play or two" away from being good. Well, we are 6-1, and these are not the dark years, but the reality is this: we are a play or two or three away from 2-5. Three games have been decided by less than a score (Temple, Indiana and Purdue) and even Iowa was within a score in the fourth quarter a week ago. Give a play to those teams, and maybe an onsides kick to Iowa, and this season could be drastically reversed.
We are simply not executing well, and it is becoming rather tedious to try and separate the blame from the tight ends who drop touchdown passes in the end zone to a quarterback that plays like a deer in the headlights, to a dual quarterback system that appears to have all the logic and consistency of a groin pull, to playcalling in the red zone with time running out (was that really a reverse we ran?), to a head coach that can no longer safely be on the playing field, to an unsportsmanlike penalty after a great return, to the STEP program that is ultimately responsible for the lowest homecoming attendance I have ever been to . . .
It just doesn't end--just like that last sentence.
Matt McGloin is a free-wheeling gunslinger who is just as apt to shoot himself in the foot as he is to kill the enemy. He is the Inspector Clouseau of quarterbacking. He always seems to come out on top, but you're just never sure he's going to make it till the end of the game. He threw another pick in the end zone and we are fortunate it was only returned to midfield. Granted, it was a freakish tip, but it was a ball that should never have been thrown in the first place. And despite Bolden leading the team on one touchdown drive yesterday (the phrase every blind squirrel finds an acorn comes to mind) I still think most of his appearances are a waste of a possession for Penn State.
I really liked the fourth down call late in the game that allowed us to keep possession and end the game by kneeling. A field goal would have only put us up by 8, and there is no guarantee that the kick would be good. It could be blocked and run back the other way. If Purdue gains possession, a defender could fall down or miss a tackle. If you don't think bad things could happen then you haven't been watching this team at all this season. And don't forget, Witovet was on the field as well.
And despite all this crap, we are bowl eligible, six and one (and no one really expected any better at this point even if we were beating opponents by two touchdowns) and leading our division at 3-0 in the conference.
Northwestern lost to the Iowa team we dominated a week ago. Illinois lost to a struggling Buckeye team. Nebraska is beatable. If we can stop making so damned many goofy mistakes and figure out a way to score in the red zone, I think we could be facing the Badgers with one loss in our pockets. Of course, there's no reason to think that anything will change, and we might lose the rest of our games.
Six and one shouldn't be so frustrating.
BY THE NUMBERS:
|NET YARDS RUSHING||162||182|
|Average Per Rush||4.9||3.8|
|Yards Gained Rushing||169||199|
|Yards Lost Rushing||7||17|
|NET YARDS PASSING||182||185|
|Average Per Attempt||6.1||8.0|
|Average Per Completion||13||18.5|
|TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS||344||367|
|Total offense plays||63||71|
|Average Gain Per Play||5.5||5.2|
|Average Yards Per Punt||43.8||44.5|
|Net Yards Per Punt||35.5||37.3|
|Average Yards Per Kickoff||66.0||65.6|
|Net Yards Per Kickoff||35.6||34.4|
|Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD||2-23-0||3-33-0|
|Average Per Return||11.5||11.0|
|Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD||4-136-0||1-92-0|
|Average Per Return||34||92|
|Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD||0-0-0||0-0-0|
|Third-Down Conversions||4 of 14||6 of 15|
|Fourth-Down Conversions||0 of 1||1 of 1|
|Sacks By: Number-Yards||1-9||1-4|
Penn State won time of possession, and the turnover battle, although our lone INT set up a 14 point swing on the scoreboard. But Purdue surprised me a bit being able to move the ball against our defense. Of course, both touchdowns were set up by short fields (one on the kick-off return and one on the interception return.) But the pesky Purduers managed 344 yards total offense, just 23 shy of the mark set by our patented Paterno prevent offense. TOO MUCH! As one lady behind us yelled, "that's unacceptable!" We'll blame it on the emotional let down after the big win against Iowa.
The Drum Major stuck both flips. The Alumni Band was incomparable as usual.
Penn State won the toss and deferred.
Paterno notches win #407. I wonder if someone will eventually put an asterisk beside that, noting the number of games he was NOT on the sideline.
Penn State leads this series 11-3-1 all-time.
Attendance was reported as 100,820. Someone doesn't count well. And it's a shame. Unfortunately, it's all about money; not about the fans. Maybe we need to OCCUPY BEAVER STADIUM!
Penn State is ranked 22nd in the USA Today poll. We are 21st. in the BCS standings.
THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:
Wisconsin badgered all over Indiana, 59-7. I don't know any details, but unlike Paterno, Bielema never passes up a chance to run up the score.
The Cheateyes recovered some dignity over Illinois, 17-7.
MSU beat Little Brother 28-14.
Iowa hung on to defeat Northwestern 41-31
Nebraska was idle. So was Minnesota, but no one noticed.
Penn State leads the Leaders division. MSU leads the Legends.
1. Pitt--lost to Utah 26-14. All 14 points were scored by the defense/special teams.
2. Illinois--your best start in half a century and their worst in years, and you still couldn't seal the deal.
3. Indiana--maybe you guys need to find another sport. Maybe basketball?
4. Georgia Tech--ranked 12th and lost to Virginia.
5. Boise State--rolling along after defeating Colorado State 63-13. And a snowball's chance in hell of making it to the BCS title game. Can you believe that? Beating a team 63-13 and NOT winning a title??? Unfortunately, I have felt that pain.
Penn State travels to Evanston for a 7PM game on BTN against the Wildcats, who have lost four in a row. Some worried that Purdue might be a trap game. It almost was. Could this be Trap II?
So far, Northwestern's season has shaken out like this:
W Boston College 24-17
W Eastern Illinois 42-21
L Army 14-21
L Illinois 35-38
L THEM 24-42
L Iowa 31-41
They still have Indiana and Minnesota on their schedule for a couple of wins. Maybe a win against Rice on Nov. 12th. That's five. To be bowl eligible, they need to come up with at least one win against Nebraska, Penn State, or Michigan State. Strictly looking at the rankings, their best bet is to upset the Lions next Saturday.
That makes them even more dangerous. Can McGloin find Lions instead of Wildcats on a dark night in Evanston? Can our defense rattle the Prince of Persa?
Tune in next week for yet another cliffhanger of a game, the Penn State way.