Monday, October 31, 2011

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

The Travel Channel had a show on last night--the 13 Scariest Places in America.  But The Capitol in Washington D.C. wasn't on the list!

Of course, neither was Beaver Stadium.  And I'm here to tell you there were 65,000 people scared on Saturday night (and hundreds of thousands more watching at home) until that kick boinked off the right upright!  How scary can you get????

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Where There's a WILLinois, There's a Way

It was a cold and snowy day.  Wet.  Raw.  There was a chillinois in the air.  My feet were numb.  The rest of me was in disbelief as the Fighting Illini lined up to kick a field goal that would send the game into overtime.  Did I mention it was cold?  We burned a timeout to ice the kicker.  Psychologically of course, because there was no need for any other ice.  It would be like telling a snowman to freeze.


But then a funny thing happened in those closing seconds that was perhaps more surreal and visceral than it was physical.  The stadium was loud--yes, but the sudden stream of students toward the south goal was one of those unrehearsed, spontaneous demonstrations that hallmarks this greatest student section in all of college sports.  Guido can only dream of things like that.  It was beautiful.  Fantastic.  Impromptu.  Wonderful.

Whether or not it had anything to do with the outcome, we will never know.

Quinn Barham said this when asked about it post-game:
Q: Did you see the student section on that field goal? Do you think it affected the kick?


A: We saw that they were moving over. We got so hyped on the sideline. It was a great feeling. I think it did affect the kick. When they came over together like that, I was thinking what is going on? They were all coming together and I thought they were leaving. But then they came together and started going crazy and I thought, `wow this is Penn State.' I really thank the fans for that.
Derek Dimke, who had not missed a field goal all season (he never got a chance to kick the first try earlier in the game) dinked one off the right upright.  Penn State won 10-7.  Joe Paterno passed Eddie Robinson like a ship in the night.  On this night, the iceberg missed and the Titanic sailed on.
 
And for those of us sitting on the cold icy deck of this ship, charting its course through this season, we were all deliriously happy to see that kick denied.
 
It is almost fitting that Joe Paterno win this way.  This is Joe Paterno's way.  Play it close to the vest.  Win with defense and special teams.  It's so maddeningly boring and excruciatingly painful to watch, and yet the result looks the same on paper as if we had won by 20.
 
But had we won by twenty, would it have been as sweet?  Would we have seen the student section spontaneously coming together as one body, united behind this team and screaming their lungs out for the kicker to M-I-S-S-I-T, miss it just for me?
 
In a way, this game was simply a reflection of this entire season.  One ugly yet somehow beautiful win.  One 8-1 record that is at the same time as impressive as it is unimpressive.
 
Even as I type this a day later, and in much warmer conditions, I teeter on the verge of indignant vehemence versus unadulterated adulation.  I am so happy that this team is 8-1.  I love these players and their sheer will and determination to win.
 
Yet, at the same, I hate the fact that we can't play one decent game without making mistakes.  SIX fumbles.  Granted, it was cold and wet.  Did I mention that?
 
I hate that Illinois is going to point their fingers at that pass interference call with righteous indignation and cry foul.  And do they have a case?  Well, your honor, it was technically pass interference.  It's not always called, but it's not like some teams haven't won national championships after a PI call gives them a second chance.  And in terms of justice, if the PI hadn't occurred, the ball probably would have been caught.  I really hate those penalties when you could be pretty sure that the receiver wouldn't have come up with the ball anyway, but it wasn't so obvious as to be deemed uncatchable.
 
If I were an Illini fan, I would be mad as hell.  That call cost them the game--no doubt.
 
But it is a call that is made from time to time, and has been said to me before by other folks, that's the breaks.  Good teams overcome the calls.  Illinois almost overcame the call, but came up a few inches wide.  I really believe that Illinois would have won had the game gone to over time.  I really love this team of ours, but I don't have any faith in our coaching staff to operate an overtime offense.
 
Which brings me to my final rant--and isn't it sad that you have to rant after a victory?  WHAT IS WRONG WITH OUR OFFENSIVE COACHING STAFF????
 
I thought the Bolden experiment had been put away.  Back on the shelf where no one will get hurt, except maybe for Bolden.  But this is a team sport.
 
Yet, with the game tied at zero, and relatively poor field position, number 1 comes trotting into the game for no apparent reason whatsoever.  McGloin did not have an injury.  He didn't commit any heinous act of fumbling, throwing interceptions or spitting on the coaching staff.
 
And then, it happened again.  And again.  And again.  Four possessions and basically the whole second quarter were squandered FOR NO APPARENT REASON.  In fact, the more I think about it, the more I believe Joe kept sending the kid back in just because the crowd was booing him.  The image of a stubborn old man who can't take criticism entered my mind numerous times in that quarter.
 
But let's get one thing perfectly straight here.  The crowd was not booing Bolden.  The crowd was booing the decision to put the kid into the game under these circumstances.  I am not criticizing Bolden here in this blog.  I am criticizing the decision to even put him in the game when McGloin was healthy and there was no obvious advantage to him being there.  It's not Bolden's fault.  But we fans all knew he is like a deer in the headlights with no pocket presence, and we were a bad snap away from being 3 points down thanks to that fact.
 
In FOUR possessions, he fumbled twice, losing it once.  He did not complete a pass.  The team had THREE first downs in the second quarter, and all were on Silas Redd runs of 11, 13 and 14 yards.  At least the hand offs were clean!

AND WHO IS TO BLAME FOR THE TIMEOUT CALL WITH 1:11 TO GO IN THE GAME????  Sorry to scream at you, but that almost cost us the game.  If we needed the timeout to get a play in, at least run some time off the clock.
 
And for Illinois, I was impressed with their defense.  They were statistically comparable to Penn State prior to this game, and they did not disappoint.  And but for a pass interference, they would have won the game for their team.
 
But how many teams yearn for that one play?
 
Are we any more frustrated than Clemson fans?  Kansas State fans?  Virginia Tech beat Duke by a mere 4 points.  (OK, we'd probably beat Duke by two and have to block a field goal, but you see where I am going with this.)  How would you like to be a Badger this morning?  Or a Spartan?  How about Iowa--they lost to Minnesota!  We might have lost a chance at a MNC due to a PI in Iowa in 2008.  How many one plays and extra seconds cost us an undefeated season in 2005?  Amazing how one play can make such a difference.
 
Each week, half the teams that play lose.  Some by more than one play.
 
We're 8-1 and playing vintage Penn State football.
 
And I'm happy with that as long as this team keeps fighting with the same will and determination to succeed.

 
BY THE NUMBERS:
 
From GoPSUsports:
 


Team Totals ILL PSU
FIRST DOWNS 1614
Rushing 67
Passing 96
Penalty 11
NET YARDS RUSHING 192111
Rushing Attempts 5041
Average Per Rush 3.82.7
Rushing Touchdowns 01
Yards Gained Rushing 226144
Yards Lost Rushing 3433
NET YARDS PASSING 9498
Completions-Attempts-Int 13-24-2 9-28-1
Average Per Attempt 3.93.5
Average Per Completion 7.210.9
Passing Touchdowns 10
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS 286209
Total offense plays 7469
Average Gain Per Play 3.93
Fumbles: Number-Lost 2-26-2
Penalties: Number-Yards 6-504-30
PUNTS-YARDS 9-342 8-287
Average Yards Per Punt 3835.9
Net Yards Per Punt 32.235.9
Inside 20 32
50+ Yards 00
Touchbacks 10
Fair catch 33
KICKOFFS-YARDS 2-127 3-197
Average Yards Per Kickoff 63.565.7
Net Yards Per Kickoff 3849.3
Touchbacks 01
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD 1-0-0 6-32-0
Average Per Return 05.3
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD 2-29-02-51-0
Average Per Return 14.525.5
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD 1-0-0 2-8-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD 0-0-0 0-0-0
Miscellaneous Yards 00
Possession Time 32:5127:09
1st Quarter 7:077:53
2nd Quarter 8:326:28
3rd Quarter 10:304:30
4th Quarter 6:428:18
Third-Down Conversions 7 of 18 3 of 15
Fourth-Down Conversions 0 of 1 0 of 1
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 1-22-2
Touchdowns 1-21-2
Field goals 0-2 1-2
Sacks By: Number-Yards 4-252-17
PAT Kicks 1-11-1
Field Goals 0-1 1-2

The key stat is the 0-2 on field goals by the Illini.  Illinois won time of possession and total yards, but lost the turn-over battle and failed to convert field goals.

What can't be seen in these stats is the performance of our defense on first down.  Illinois had 30 first down plays in the game.  On those plays, they made 72 yards for 2.4 yards per first down play.  But four of those first down plays went for 14, 18, 15 and 16 yards.  If you take those out of the equation, that leaves 9 yards among 26 first down plays in the game.  That's a third of a yard on most first down plays!

INTANGIBLES:

The Blue Band did not march.

Penn State won the toss and elected to receive.  Not sure about that call.

Attendance was an anemic 97,828--but there were not that many people in the stands.

Win #409 puts Joe in first place among all Division I coaches.  Gagliardi of St. Johns is Division III.

Penn State leads the Illini 15-4 all-time.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

Penn State leads the conference after this 10-7 win over Illinois.
The Cheateyes beat the Badgers in a wild late game, 33-29.
THEM beat Purdue 36-14.
Iowa lost to the Gophers 22-21.  Wow.  Just.  Wow.
Nebraska dominated Michigan State 24-3.
Northwestern crushed Indiana 59-38.

Penn State is ranked 15th in the USA Today Poll.

Here are the standings for your enjoyment from the Big Ten site:



SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  Clemson--Tigers lost to Georgia Tech.  Thanks for playing.  We have some nice parting gifts for you.
2.  K-State--Oklahoma hands them their first loss.  A huge, lopsided 58-17 loss.
3.  Iowa--lost by a point to Minnesota.  Wow again.
4.  Texas Tech--swept up by the cyclones.  No Rank for you!
5.  Florida--lost to Georgia.  First 4 loss series since the eighties.
6.  Texas Aggies--finally knocked out of the rankings with third loss

LOOKING AHEAD:

Penn State has a bye week before hosting the Cornhuskers on November 12.  Time to be announced.  I'll post a preview next week.  The Huskers play at Northwestern this week.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

409

It was absolutely awesome from the north end zone to watch the students swarming across to get behind the goalposts for the final kick.

Are you ready for some snow . . . ball?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Weekly Game Guide

For whom do we root?

In the Big Ten:

Penn State is favored by 5 over the Illini.  GO STATE!  BEAT ILLINI!  (That was easy!)

THEM is favored over the Boilermakers.  GO PURDUE!  (That was easy!)

Iowa is favored over Minnesota by 15.  GO HAWKS!  (That was easy!)

Northwestern is favored over the Hoosiers by 9.5.  Hmmm.  I feel bad for the Hoosiers, but I think Northwestern wins.  We've played and beaten both.  The Hoosiers are in our division.  GO WILDCATS!

Wisconsin is a 7.5 favorite over the Cheateyes.  Both are in our division and we play both on the road.  The Buckeyes have two losses and Wisconsin has one in conference.  Can I bring myself to root for the cheaters?  Well, I won't shed a tear if the cheaters lose, but for the good of old state, I have to root against Wisconsin.  Man, this is just like voting in an election--I'm not picking who I want to win as much as I'm picking against who I don't want to see in office!  Picking my noes, so to speak.  GO CHEATERS!

And the Huskers are favored by 4.5 over the Spartans in Lincoln.  Both are in the other division, but we play Nebraska and not MSU.  It looks better for us to beat a better Nebraska team, but a loss by MSU might set Nebraska up for the Title game, and IF--and it's a big IF--we get there, I don't want to have to replay the corn boys.  This is sooooo complicated.  Sorry Sparty . . . . GO HUSKERS!

In games of past opponents:

The Crimson Tide is off as well as LSU, before their SEC tilt next week.

EMU (5-3) is off this week as well.

Temple plays next Wednesday at Pitt Ohio.  GO OWLS!

Indiana State (5-3) is off as well.

Wow!  Four non-conference opponents and NONE of them are playing this weekend!

Friday Football Funny

From Fank & Ernest:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Statistically Speaking: Illinois Edition

Here are the stats from the NCAA website for PSU and Illinois coming into this weekend:



NCAA Stats Comparison
Category:Penn St.IllinoisDelta
Rushing5023-27
Passing Offense8472-12
Total Offense7645-31
Scoring Offense8964-25
Rushing Defense19190
Turnovers Gained134229
Passes Had Intercepted48480
Pass Defense14217
Net Punting951027
Punt Returns7911637
Kickoff Returns2011898
Turnover Margin277447
Fumbles Recovered46460
Passes Intercepted64438
Fumbles Lost7410228
Turnovers Lost669024
Passing Efficiency9831-67
Pass Efficiency Defense54237
Total Defense8102
Scoring Defense51510
Fewest Penalties Per Game2717-10
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game3115-16
Punt Return Yardage Defense7153-18
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense7310027
Offense Third-down Efficiency7313-60
Offense Fourth-down Efficiency4118114
Defense Third-down Efficiency3518-17
Defense Fourth-down Efficiency82820
Tackles for Loss256-19
Offense Tackles for Loss57065
Pass Sacks238-15
Pass Sacks Allowed1410692
Time of Possession3320-13
First Downs7345-28
First Downs Allowed13141
Red Zone Efficiency8734-53
Red Zone Efficiency - Defense11744-73
Average NCAA Rank:46.1651.004.84
Weighted Avg. Rank:47.5043.17-4.33


The disparity between the straight up stats and the "weighted" stats, where key categories such as total offense or defense are given more weight than categories like fewest penalties per game, is again apparent this week.

Purdue was better in weighted stats than actual straight stats.  Northwestern was worse.  Illinois is again better when the stats are weighted.  Does that mean anything?

Well, the Illini lost to Purdue, whom we beat, and neither Northwestern or Purdue could win the most points on the scoreboard stat.

But neither of those teams was as close in the defensive categories to Penn State as Illinois is.  Pass efficiency defense is the only major defensive category that Illinois is not within 10 rank points or less of matching PSU.  Illionois leads PSU in all major offensive categories by at least 12 rank points.

We are very poor on third down efficiency on offense; Illinois is considerably better.

Overall, weighted or not, the two teams are closely matched on paper.

Penn State is favored by 5 in what appears to be a defensive clash.  And the weather appears to be cold and wet . . .
Okay, campers tailgaters, rise and shine, and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooold out there today Saturday.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

PrimeTime Wednesday

Do you know where your panther is?

It's Wednesday night.  And that means Big Least football.  Or Clarion versus Edinboro if you get ROOT.

Is it any wonder teams are leaving the conference like rats abandoning a sinking ship?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"I" Trouble?

Illinois is coming off consecutive losses, 17-7 to Ohio State and 21-14 to Purdue.  This after a 6-0 start and top 20 ranking.  The Illini have dropped from the rankings since.

How are the players handling this?

According to John Supinie, of The State Journal-Register,  the bandwagon has gotten easier to pull.
Life hasn’t changed much for sophomore quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase despite two straight Illinois losses that have initiated concerns from outside the locker room about the potential for a five-game losing streak
“My teachers were still nice to me,” Scheelhaase said Monday after practice on the Memorial Stadium turf. “I still had a seat in class. People were sitting around me and talking to me. I didn’t feel any differently. In my mind, everyone knows we can bounce back. If they don’t, then they’ll see.”

The catcalls began on Zook’s way to the locker room, and the bandwagon emptied in a hurry.
“It was new to have people on the bandwagon,” Scheelhaase said. “It was cool. It was nice. Maybe it was too nice. You never know.
“We’re not too worried about what other people are saying. We’re used to having kind of an empty bandwagon. It’s a little lighter to pull. It’s not that bad.”
I guess that's one way to look at things.  Find the silver lining.  You still have a chair in class--you don't have to stand in the corner.  It's easier to pull an empty bandwagon.  Whatever works for you.

Identifying Illini Fans

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Wreck of the Pat Fitzgerald

No one had Northwestern penciled in for Big Ten Champion.  No one was talking about them as a dark horse to win the conference.  Lindy's preseason magazine picked them 5th in the Legends Division, ahead of Minnesota but behind everyone else.  After seven games, guess what? Lindy's was wrong.  They are behind Minnesota who only has 3 conference losses. They are tied with Indiana.

Yet, the talking heads insisted on putting Penn State on upset alert.  It seemed as if everyone they interviewed or asked was picking Northwestern.  If given the chance, even Clucko the Chicken would have picked Northwestern.  Richard Nixon, if he were still alive, would have picked Northwestern.

Why?  Were the Wildcats suddenly going to find a defense?  Was this a case of mass dyslexia, and everyone thought they were really 4-2 instead of 2-4?

Granted, Penn State has been anything but consistent this year, but SERIOUSLY??!!  SERIOUSLY!!

Is this how far this program has fallen that a game against a team like Northwestern, who won't even sniff a top 25 ranking and will now not likely even sniff a bowl game, is the media favorite to beat a Penn State team that, despite all it's warts, is putting on its best face in this BCS beauty pageant with a 6-1, now a 7-1, showing?

Where was the karma?  Penn State beat Northwestern for Joe's 323rd win to tie Bear Bryant.  PSU came from behind last year to beat the Wildcats for Joe's 400th win.  Is it not fitting that the Lions should beat Northwestern for Joe's next milestone, win #408 that ties Eddie Robinson???

And with only a four point spread, against a team with one of the worst defenses in the conference, this was a game that screamed break-out for Penn State, not TRAP.

And while the final score, 34-24, does not scream break out either, consider this: Penn State was able to put 34 points on the board and not many of the so-called experts would have predicted that.  Even while Penn State was matching NU point for point in the first half, the dimwits on TV were talking about how Penn State could not win a shoot-out against the Wildcats.  What?  Huh?  Was that pre-recorded and they weren't even watching what was going on down on the field?

Silas Redd amassed 164 yards on 18 carries.  Penn State turned the ball over just once, on the opening kick-off, and Matt McGloin was not interecepted.  Holy McWow Batman!

Unfortunately, for Penn State, this really was just Northwestern.  The experts had it all wrong.  This wasn't an upset waiting to happen--that happened in East Lansing.  (Michigan State beat the badgers last season, like they couldn't see this one coming!  They were too busy alerting the nation that Penn State might lose.)  We'll gloat about that below.  In the end, the Wildcats are a pedestrian team that will be fortunate not to end up at the bottom of the Big Ten.  Thankfully, they will play both Indiana and Minnesota, so they probably will win a couple of conference games.

But I have come to the acceptance that this Penn State team is just a scrappy, reckless group of underachievers who just don't know how good they could be.  The play calling I thought was better this week, except for the ill-timed call on third and short when we decide to pass and McGloin gets sacked for about half the field behind the line of scrimmage.  Come on!  We were running the ball down their throats.  Clucko could have made a better play call on that one!  It was reminiscent of the almost-comeback in East Lansing where we ran the ball down the field, only to inexplicably throw four incomplete passes to lose the game.  You're not trying to score in this situation.  Run the damned ball.

We play pretty much to the level of our competition, Alabama notwithstanding.  Have you seen what Alabama is doing to opponents?  That loss is no shame.  I just wish we had gotten the right call on that fake field goal.  Might not have changed the outcome, but it certainly would have made things interesting.

And we are not the only team with problems, as evidenced by Northwestern's insistence to run a two quarterback system.  At least in their system, each QB brings a different style to the game, but the changing of quarterbacks seems so random.  Fitzgerald changed QB's more than Kristina Helfer changed partners.  And I don't think Pat had as much fun doing it!

All the talk about Penn State losing riled up Silas Redd:

Redd had tweeted earlier in the day that he was motivated by everyone on ESPN's "College GameDay" picking Northwestern to win the game.

"It hurt because we're ranked and we beat Northwestern the past four years," Redd said. "We wanted to shut those guys up, and we did that today."
Maybe we should get him riled up more often!

Earlier this week, Arizona dismantled UCLA.  One poster quipped that we could drop Neuheisal off the list of Paterno replacments.  Can we now cross off Pat Fitzgerald?  It's curious that a former QB, albeit from a different era of football, has built his coaching career on defense, while a former linebacker can't field a team with a good defense.  Northwestern is one defense away from being scary good.


BY THE NUMBERS:

From the GoPSUsports site:



Team Totals PSU NU
FIRST DOWNS 2023
Rushing 128
Passing 814
Penalty 01
NET YARDS RUSHING 18994
Rushing Attempts 3837
Average Per Rush 52.5
Rushing Touchdowns 22
Yards Gained Rushing 225161
Yards Lost Rushing 3667
NET YARDS PASSING 192312
Completions-Attempts-Int 17-27-0 28-39-1
Average Per Attempt 7.18
Average Per Completion 11.311.1
Passing Touchdowns 21
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS 381406
Total offense plays 6576
Average Gain Per Play 5.95.3
Fumbles: Number-Lost 3-10-0
Penalties: Number-Yards 4-383-20
PUNTS-YARDS 4-158 5-188
Average Yards Per Punt 39.537.6
Net Yards Per Punt 34.529.6
Inside 20 11
50+ Yards 10
Touchbacks 12
Fair catch 22
KICKOFFS-YARDS 7-470 5-322
Average Yards Per Kickoff 67.164.4
Net Yards Per Kickoff 48.436.4
Touchbacks 30
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD 1-0-0 0-0-0
Average Per Return 00
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD 5-140-0 4-71-0
Average Per Return 2817.8
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD 1-63-0 0-0-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD 0-0-0 0-0-0
Miscellaneous Yards 00
Possession Time 27:3632:24
1st Quarter 5:429:18
2nd Quarter 7:567:04
3rd Quarter 5:339:27
4th Quarter 8:256:35
Third-Down Conversions 5 of 137 of 15
Fourth-Down Conversions 1 of 1 1 of 2
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 5-64-5
Touchdowns 3-63-5
Field goals 2-61-5
Sacks By: Number-Yards 7-641-20
PAT Kicks 4-43-3
Field Goals 2-21-1

Time of possession is skewed this week, since two of Penn State's "drives" lasted six seconds (one pass McGloin to Devon Smith) and five seconds (one play run by Redd after the INT return by Hodges.)  Also, given that Northwestern is a dink and dunk ball control type of team, I think Penn State held their own in this category all things considered.

A more telling statistic is the ZERO points allowed by the defense in the second half.

Maybe I'm drinking way too much Kool Aid, and maybe I'm putting way too much faith back in the coaching staff, but I really get the sense that things are starting to come together.  The offensive line is doing it's job.  The running game is looking good, albeit against questionable defenses.  The kicking game is solid--we couldn't say that after the first few games.  And our future opponents are all looking mortal instead of invincible. 

Gotta love the seven sacks.  Twice in the game, the defense rose up with back-to-back sacks to end Northwestern drives.

INTANGIBLES:

Northwestern won the toss and deferred.  They still got the opening possession after the fumble by Powell.  Still didn't help them win, though.

JoePa sits at 408 wins, with a good chance to move past Eddie Robinson next week.

Northwestern passes Bowling Green on the list of JoePa milestones.  BG was the victim for wins 200 and 300, while Northwestern has now been part of win #323, win #400 and win #408.

The all-time series favors Penn State 12-3.

Attendance at the game was listed at 40,004.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

Well, well, well.  What a difference a week makes.  Penn State now stands alone in the LEADERS division.  The Spartans are king of the LEGENDS.

Sparty beat the Badgers on the final play of the game.  MSU had a 14 point lead in the fourth, that the Badgers were able to overcome for a tie.  With 51 seconds left, Sparty took over but came up short of field goal range with 4 ticks left on the clock.  Cousins threw a Hail Mary pass that was batted around and then caught by a MSU receiver at the goal line.  The call on the field was no TD--time for OT.  But on further review, the ruling was overturned as the ball had broken the plane.  TD MSU.  Good bye Badgers.  Final Score:  37-31.

Purdue upset Illinois 21-14.  The Illini offense is struggling.  I don't see that changing next week.

Nebraska mirrored Minnesota 41-14.

Iowa took care of business against the Hoosiers, 45-24.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  Wisconsin--bet Bret Bielema wishes he had some of those points from the games he ran the score up.
2.  Notre Lame -- do they have enough losses to be eliminated from a BCS Bowl yet?
3.  West by God Virginia-- lost to Syracuse 49-23.  Will there be any Big Least teams ranked this week?
4.  Washington--crushed 65-21 by Stanford
5.  Georgia Tech--humbled by Miami (FL) 24-7
6.  Boise State--may lose style points after 33-26 win over Air Force
7.  Oklahoma--TECH that!  Lost to Texas Tech 41-38 in a lightning delayed game.  Don't you mess with Mother Nature!

LOOKING AHEAD:

The Illini come to Beaver Stadium next week. 

Illinois season to date looks like this:

W  Arknasas State 33-15
W  South Dakota State 56-3
W  Arizona State 17-14
W  Western Michigan 23-20
W  Northwestern 38-35
W  Indiana 41-20
L   Ohio State 7-17
L   Purdue 14-21

The only "quality win" is a 3 point victory over 5-2 Arizona State who was taken to OT by Missouri and was taken behind the woodshed by Oregon.

Illinois was the 7th most difficult game on our schedule on my pre-season countdown.
Basically, I don't see Illinois being a more formidable foe than Iowa, Alabama, Ohio State, Nebraska, or Wisconsin. The only other team to be ranked yet is Northwestern, and quite frankly, that game is on the road and I fear Pat Fitzgerald more than Ron Zook. And perhaps that, in the end, is the reason that Northwestern went higher in the draft than Illinois.


Prediction: I may be drinking the Kool Aid here, but I do think we will be improved from last season. I am not as optimistic for Illinois as their fans may be. I call this a close win by Penn State, maybe one of those where we kick a field goal late in the game and hope that Illinois doesn't pull a 1999 Minnesota or a 2005 THEM miracle out in the end.
I haven't posted a final season prediction, but I'm leaning towards 8-4. I could be talked into 10-2. Either way, I think Penn State needs to win this game to achieve that level of success.
 I think it will be a close game, but Penn State wins with defense at home.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

408 . . . FEELS GREAT!

Penn State defeats Northwestern 34-24 to give Joe Paterno win #408, now in a tie with Eddie Robinson on the all-time list.

Gerald Hodges had a monster of a game.

Silas Redd ran amok.

Full recap to follow later!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Let's talk football, huddles and handoffs

By now — my twelfth year of blogging — I have seen and been involved in some unusual football and even email circumstances.

Though I am only 39----ish, I feel like I am finally beginning to figure out sports psychology… and maybe even relationships. You could say I’ve been around the blog a few times, but I’m still experiencing new things every day, especially in Happy Valley, on the weekends.

I love football.

I love talking about it, I love watching it, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, male or female, who feels the same way.

Someday, all of us will be watching football — unless you’re still living in your mom’s basement — and it won’t be a big deal.

Maybe you’re watching football right now, while you’re reading this column (lucky you), maybe you did it last night, or maybe you’ve never watched it at all, but football is all around us.

We’re at the point in our lives when we are coming into our footballuality.

We’re learning the football game.

Who knows, between hook and laterals and the need to choke a “Big Ten official,” we might even be the generation that completely kills referees.

Have you had dirty thoughts about that cute tight end/cheerleader at your football game? Have you wondered what your partner would say if you wanted to play football on the 50-yard-line?

Well, I have, too.

Often, football is taboo. We can’t discuss what goes on behind the closed doors of the locker room, or in my case, under a crabapple tree once.

If you’ve ever watched MTV’s Cribs, you know the first thing anyone says when they enter their stadium is, “This is where the Greatest Show happens.”

Do they really need to say that? Are they sure they’re good enough to really call it The Greatest Show?

At Penn State, it’s more than in the stadium — it’s luxury boxes, Paternoville or the Nittany Lion Shrine.

For some, it’s a moment of true intimacy, for others it’s just another good night.

Football is the most universal thing in the entire world. Almost every species — except for round ball ones— has football in one form or another.

We were given these footballs for a reason, so why not take advantage of them?

The thrill of watching football is like nothing else. It’s exciting, and everyone’s talking about it.

College is the time when those whispers become a reality, when people take others’ Bud Light and roommates are football-iled.

And it’s about time we start talking about it.

I’m not going to tell you to change your beliefs and go crazy, but it’s time to start being open.

It’s time to break society’s first down chains (or not), and look at football from a different perspective.

Losing control draws me toward all of this.

I am not a thrill seeker, per se. I hate heights; I will never sit in the upper deck. I don’t ski or mountain bike or do any sort of extreme sports that give you the “rush” people describe, so I have football.

Don’t think for a minute that football is a less dangerous version of an extreme sport.

And frankly, I don’t think any extreme sport could give you the feeling that a white-knuckle, toe-curling Penn State offense does.

The pleasure runs up and down your entire body, and just for a moment — or if you’re lucky, quite a few moments — you disconnect from the stressful world.

There is no better time to have a little fun and explore than in college.

We have few responsibilities, and there will never be as many willing people around to experience the same things with.

It’s also the time when were most unsure about how to go about football.

I doubt any of us can call ourselves football aficionados, so let’s dive into a sea of huddling, Paterno and hiking, and figure it out.

Let’s get our minds — and hopefully pelvises — moving, and really delve into what’s important.

Everyone has that crazy story or awkward encounter with a partner that is worthy of being told, and I can relate, so let’s talk about football, huddles and hand offs.

You may have thought you could drain away all of your weekend shenanigans, just like that beer bong at last weekend’s football tailgate, but I am here to bring them back to the surface.

We are Nittany Lions.

And we’re beating everyone.   Except Alabama.

EDITORS NOTE:  If you currently have that WTF look on your face, I must point out that this is a parody of an article which originally appeared in The Daily Collegian by Kristina Helfer.  You can also read about it at Penn State Clips.

Weekly Game Guide

It's Thursday night.

UCLA v Arizona.

Another Rick Neuheisal sighting.

Watch the game or blog?  Watch the game or blog?  Game?  Blog?

So here I am blogging.

(The game is still on, I'm just not paying that much attention.)

For whom do we root?

Tonight?  Let's go with Arizona who just fired their head coach in mid-season.  Yeah, it's either that or a coin toss.  Ok, how about this?  I'm a Penguins fan and I don't like the Boston Bruins.  By the substitutive property of sports, I don't like the UCLA Bruins.  GO ARIZONA!

IN THE BIG TEN:

Penn State is a 4 point favorite over the non-Arizona but more Northwesterly Wildcats and the line has been stable all week.  Bad NW defense gives our offense a chance to put things together.  LET'S GO STATE!

Nebraska is a 25 point fave over the Goophers.  Neither one is in our division, but we do play the Huskers and it would be better for our strength of schedule if they win.  That was way too much analysis for a game that the gophers have close to zero chance of winning.  GO HUSKERS!

Iowa hosts Indiana and is favored by 23.5.  GO HAWKS!  ( I feel bad for the Hoosiers, and maybe I should throw them a bone.  But they have as much chance of winning this game as the Goophers have of upsetting Nebraska.)

Wisconsin is favored by 8 as they travel to Spartan stadium.  Only MSU beat the badgers in the Big Ten last year.  Interesting.  Just as we play the Cheateyes at home twice in a row, the badgers must travel to East Lansing again.  Will history repeat itself.  Sorry, Sparty, but this is not the same Wisconsin team that jumped around and sang the beer barrel polka last year.  This team is going to teach you a lesson.  ON WISCONSIN!  (And, it helps our strenmgth of schedule :) )

Purdue is a 4 point home dog to the Illini, coming off a heart breaking loss to the resurgent Cheateyes.  I'd like to see Purdue give them a good game.  Wear them down a little.  But I think "our win" (nudge, nudge, wink, wink)  over the Illini will look better if they win this game.  GO ILLINOIS!

The little two in the Big conference--THEM and the Columbus Cheateyes--are idle this week.  Let's see what the survey says . . . . Yep!  No one cares!

IN GAMES OF PAST OPPONENTS:

Alabama is a 29 point favorite over Tennessee.  They'll pop Rocky Top, but can they outdo LSU?  ROLL TIDE ROLL!

Temple is favored by 13 over Bowling Green.  GO OWLS!

Indiana State is 5-2 with losses to Northern Iowa and Penn State.  They face Illinois State.  GO TREES!

Eastern Michigan (4-3) is a 12 point underdog to Western Michigan.  GO EMU!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Statistically Speaking: Wildcat Edition

Here are the stats for Penn State and Northwestern from the NCAA site:


NCAA Stats Comparison
Category:Penn St.NorthwesternDelta
Rushing5240-12
Passing Offense8168-13
Total Offense7852-26
Scoring Offense9662-34
Rushing Defense227654
Turnovers Gained105040
Passes Had Intercepted648-56
Pass Defense79992
Net Punting9594-1
Punt Returns7513-62
Kickoff Returns326836
Turnover Margin2017-3
Fumbles Recovered336734
Passes Intercepted73730
Fumbles Lost7014-56
Turnovers Lost706-64
Passing Efficiency10236-66
Pass Efficiency Defense3108105
Total Defense610195
Scoring Defense68882
Fewest Penalties Per Game3328-5
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game3728-9
Punt Return Yardage Defense656-59
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense8512-73
Offense Third-down Efficiency7320-53
Offense Fourth-down Efficiency510297
Defense Third-down Efficiency3211482
Defense Fourth-down Efficiency879710
Tackles for Loss329664
Offense Tackles for Loss69488
Pass Sacks487729
Pass Sacks Allowed1810284
Time of Possession277346
First Downs7429-45
First Downs Allowed76154
Red Zone Efficiency91910
Red Zone Efficiency - Defense11960-59
Average NCAA Rank:47.7859.311.52
Weighted Avg. Rank:47.3370.0822.75

Unlike Purdue last week, whose weighted stats were considerably better than the straight up average, Northwestern is actually worse when key stats are weighted.

In the offensive categories, NW is ranked on average 21.25 spots better than PSU.

In the defensive categories of rushing, pass, pass efficiency, scoring and total defense, Penn State is ranked on average 85.6 spots BETTER than the Wildcats.

Neither team performs well in the red zone.  If it weren't so sad I'd be laughing.  And as good as our defense is, our red zone defense is tied for last in the country.  It's like the goal line is some weird electromagnetic force that creates havoc whenever our players get near it, whether they are on offense or defense.  It's creepy really.

But on the bright side, they can't get any worse and there's only one way to go from here.

My preseason countdown had this game ranked as our 6th most difficult gameIllinois was #7 and Iowa was #5.  Here was my prediction:

I think Penn State will be 6-1 going into this game and building momentum. I look for a shaky start, a solid third quarter and pulling away with a win by at least 10 points. Don't ask me why. It's just a feeling I have. It might be gas.


I may be a fool, but I'm standing by that prediction, even though the line has us favored by 4.  The best thing for a struggling offense is to face a struggling defense.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Behind Enemy Lines: Wildcat Edition

Northwestern is an unknown commodity.  When I was younger--and before Penn State joined the Big Ten--Northwestern was the doormat of the league.  Perhaps of the nation.  They were smart, but they couldn't play football worth a damn.

Should people in Glass Beaver Stadiums throw stones?
Ara Parseghian once coached at Northwestern.  That was BEFORE my time.  And even with a notable coach like Ara (of Notre Dame fame for the youngsters) the Wildcats only went 36-35-1.

But after Penn State joined the Big Ten, Northwestern underwent a metamorphosis that Indiana can only dream of.  Gary Barnett took over in 1995 and promptly beat Penn State 21-10 en route to their first Big Ten championship since 1936.  Their defense was led by a young man named Pat Fitzgerald.

And while Northwestern today is not what you would call a powerhouse by any stroke of the imagination, they are playing decent football (is 2-4 really decent?) behind a QB named Persa.  But Fitzgerald is now on the sideline coaching, and they really need someone like him on the field playing defense, as this Northwestern team seems prone to late game collapses.  Iowa scored 24 points in the fourth quarter last week to win by 10.

One way to get a feel for another team is to see what their fans are saying.  That is not to say that we fans are experts but you must admit the scuttlebutt in Nittany Nation would have one thinking we were 1-6 instead of 6-1.  If nothing else, it has its entertainment value.

There is actually a Northwestern Blog--Lake The Posts, "serving a daily dose of Wildcataganda since 2007."  That's four years of Wildcataganda!  And that's way better than Wild Scat!

Here are some tidbits from the past weekend:
If you think it is tough as a fan to let go of the extreme disappointment of this season, put yourself in my shoes. A week’s worth of posts lay in front of us and our match-up with Top 25 Penn State.  You want to see a real defense, well you’ll get to see it up close and personal next Saturday.

It truly is freaky. If you look at the box score you’d have to guess NU would win this by at least 14 points. 29 first downs, 495 yards of offense, Army-like domination of TOP.  However, the one “how can you possibly lose with THIS stat?” stat is NU’s ridiculous third down conversions against Iowa. NU went 16-22 on the night which was one week after our “D” got torched to the almost exact same percentage by Michigan and we all held it up as THE stat of the game.

Iowa’s Defensive Gameplan
Give credit where credit is due. Norm Parker chose to force NU to dink and dunk and let us have whatever we wanted in short yardage situation. He banked on his defense being able to do what so many “D’s” do against us and capitalize on keeping us out of the end zone in red zone situations. Iowa had great deep ball coverage forcing Persa to tuck and run on several occasions and in several instances hold on the ball too long.
The Penn State defense is the paradigm for the bend but don't break defense, which allows teams to dink and dunk their way down the field.  Look for the same this weekend.
QB Shuffle  – I loathe rotating QBs. I really do. I’ve just never been a fan as I’m hard-pressed to find successful teams that have done this. If you say “Penn State” I’m going to say “hah!” as they prove my point. They are winning DESPITE the QB rotation and winning based on their stellar defensive play and the re-emergence of Silas Redd at RB.
What is football's fascination with shuffling quarterbacks?  Temple did it.  Iowa did it.  Purdue did it last weekend.  Now Northwestern.  Is it possible that Jay Paterno is mainstream after all?  Say it ain't so, Joe!
THE DISAPPOINTING
Secondary - James Vandenberg’s stat line looks rather pedestrian – 14/22, 224 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT. Yet, 92 of those yards came on absolutely ridiculously blown coverages by Northwestern. Keenan Davis torched Demetrius Dugar for a 47 yard TD and Marvin McNutt embarrassed the NU defense on a 35-yard TD that once again exploited a miscommunication of our secondary. Offensive coordinators are feasting on the deep ball as the worst kept secret – NU gets confused on the deep patterns – is out. Illinois, Michigan and Iowa have all exploited it and “we made a couple of bad plays” is no longer acceptable. The damning part of this was the inexcusable postgame revelation by Pat Fitzgerald that our secondary is coming off the field confused about which coverage we were supposed to be in. What?!!! We’re midway through the season and compound the very same mistakes that have cost us the previous week and haven’t corrected a COMMUNICATION issue? It’s one thing to get beat on an athletic play. It’s another to simply not be even in the same area code of receivers based on confusion of what coverage we are supposed to be in.
You know, if you change some names, and talk about offense instead of defense, this rant could very well be found on any Penn State message board bitching about our offense and its coaches.  He further writes:
I think I speak for most of us when the tide has turned from faith in the coaches actually making these changes happen has worn thin. When you can recite the postgame press conference and it is the same broken record of the coaches accepting responsibility, at some point you need to look within and really perhaps change the ones responsible.
At least Fitzgerald has admitted that things are unacceptable.  Some coaches still insist that everything is just Peachy Paterno.

It appears the big difference between NW and PSU is our defense.  We don't expect a fourth quarter collapse.  But Northwestern was 3-5 in the red zone against Iowa and Persa threw a pick six that really swung momentum away from the Cats early in the game and put them in a hole they were never able to claw back out of.

So do we hope McGloin does a good impersonation of Persa or not?  Which team will switch quarterbacks more?

Iowa Card Trick

I know it's just IOWA, but it's still cool.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Bolden Boys

It was mano a mano.  Bolden a Bolden.  Rob a Ralph.  Penn State a Purdue.

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:

From GoPSUsports:

Team Totals PUR PSU
FIRST DOWNS 1521
Rushing 611
Passing 99
Penalty 01
NET YARDS RUSHING 162182
Rushing Attempts 3348
Average Per Rush 4.93.8
Rushing Touchdowns 12
Yards Gained Rushing 169199
Yards Lost Rushing 717
NET YARDS PASSING 182185
Completions-Attempts-Int 14-30-3 10-23-1
Average Per Attempt 6.18.0
Average Per Completion 1318.5
Passing Touchdowns 10
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS 344367
Total offense plays 6371
Average Gain Per Play 5.55.2
Fumbles: Number-Lost 0-0 2-0
Penalties: Number-Yards 6-335-43
PUNTS-YARDS 4-175 6-267
Average Yards Per Punt 43.844.5
Net Yards Per Punt 35.537.3
Inside 20 13
50+ Yards 11
Touchbacks 01
Fair catch 10
KICKOFFS-YARDS 5-330 5-328
Average Yards Per Kickoff 66.065.6
Net Yards Per Kickoff 35.634.4
Touchbacks 31
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD 2-23-03-33-0
Average Per Return 11.511.0
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD 4-136-0 1-92-0
Average Per Return 3492
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD 1-55-0 3-24-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD 0-0-0 0-0-0
Miscellaneous Yards 00
Possession Time 26:0933:51
1st Quarter 8:426:18
2nd Quarter 5:289:32
3rd Quarter 5:499:11
4th Quarter 6:108:50
Third-Down Conversions 4 of 14 6 of 15
Fourth-Down Conversions 0 of 1 1 of 1
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 4-44-5
Touchdowns 2-42-5
Field goals 2-42-5
Sacks By: Number-Yards 1-91-4
PAT Kicks 0-12-2
Field Goals 2-33-3

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.

INTANGIBLES:

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.

SHEDDING TEARS:

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.

LOOKING AHEAD:

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.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Statistically Speaking: Boilermaker Edition

Here are the NCAA stats for Penn State and Purdue:



NCAA Stats Comparison
Category:Penn St.Purdue
Rushing5320
Passing Offense8293
Total Offense8150
Scoring Offense9342
Rushing Defense1759
Turnovers Gained1599
Passes Had Intercepted606
Pass Defense532
Net Punting1026
Punt Returns7949
Kickoff Returns9234
Turnover Margin3643
Fumbles Recovered2478
Passes Intercepted1392
Fumbles Lost8311
Turnovers Lost845
Passing Efficiency10174
Pass Efficiency Defense433
Total Defense436
Scoring Defense530
Fewest Penalties Per Game30113
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game33114
Punt Return Yardage Defense6355
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense54113
Offense Third-down Efficiency7750
Offense Fourth-down Efficiency522
Defense Third-down Efficiency3549
Defense Fourth-down Efficiency10071
Tackles for Loss2244
Offense Tackles for Loss899
Pass Sacks42107
Pass Sacks Allowed19100
Time of Possession3951
First Downs7434
First Downs Allowed767
Red Zone Efficiency9537
Red Zone Efficiency - Defense119106
Average NCAA Rank:50.1457.41
Weighted Avg. Rank:48.5843.17

The stats this week show an interesting reversal.  When you just look at the straight up average NCAA rank (add each rank for each category and then divide by the number of categories) Penn State ranks better than Purdue.  But when you look at the weighted ranking (i.e. give more weight to categories like total offense, total defense, and less emphasis on first downs allowed or yards penalized per game) and Purdue actually appears to have the edge.

Our ranking is inflated by the uniformly bad numbers on the offensive side of the ball.  Purdue is simply an average team--neither offense or defense is outstanding.  The Boilers are good at net punting (6th), passes had intercepted (6th) and turnovers lost (5th.)  They are ranked 11th in the country in fumbles lost, and after that, most of their rankings are above 25.

On the other side of the ball, Penn State is ranked in the top 25 (if not the top 10) in practically every defensive category except for red zone defense.  Fortunately for us, Purdue is almost as bad in red zone defense, so maybe we have a chance of scoring some TDs this week.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Purdue Pete Learns the Truth


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Iowa Pics

Iowa Fan(s) spotted near out tailgate.

Nice flag! Not.

Almost got the flip.

Blue Band marches by our car as we head out after the game.

Poll Position

Penn State cracks the USA Today Poll, but is still dissed by the AP.

The first BCS poll comes out tonight next week--oops.

Defense Den-eyes Hawks

In a battle that went into the final quarter at 6-3, the Penn State defense shut down the Hawkeye offense as Penn State pulled out a 13-3 victory over the pesky Hawkeyes in front of a crowd of 103,497 appreciative fans.

Oy vey!  I'm starting to sound like the Penn State Football Letter.

The Hawkeye's featured the Big Ten's third best quarterback in the conference and an offense that was averaging 37.75 points per game.  The PSU defense was going to have none of that.

The Lions held the Hawks to just 84 rushing yards and almost 35 points below their average, despite the Hawkeyes coming off a bye week and nearly owning Penn State for the past decade.

Granted, this is somewhat of a rebuilding year for the Hawkeyes, and they really have faced no team of any consequence except possibly ISU to whom they lost (sorry Pitt, but it's true), and this win does not atone for the loss in 2008 when the Hawks upset us when we were ranked third, or the 2009 loss when they duplicated that effort against a 5th ranked PSU team, or even the spanking they gave us last year.  Oy vey again!  Double Oy!  Was that one rambling sentence or what?!  Maybe not full revenge, but it is a start.  A good start.

I was far from confident that we could win this game, but I knew that we could.  We still made mistakes, but our guys played like they wanted to win.  Even Ferentz commented after the game about the intensity of the Penn State players.


In a series where the ball always seems to bounce in Iowa's favor, the opposite rang true on this gorgeous Saturday in Happy Valley.  Passes bounced from one PSU receiver to another.  We dribbled a kick-off return but retained possession.  Silas Redd recovered his own fumble.  And Penn State forced three turnovers, while only throwing one INT, albeit a painful one in the end zone that left points on the field and not on the scoreboard.  It's like a pick six, but it's a pick minus six.  A negative pick six.  Pick Six anti-matter.  You get the idea.

That's McGloin.  He's a gunslinger.  He's going to make big plays.  He's going to make big mistakes.  You've got to take the good with the bad.  I wish we didn't have to but Kerry Collins is long gone and we're scraping the bottom of the quarterback barrel.  Bolden, bless his heart, still looks like a deer in the headlights out there.  The quarterback controversy is slowly turning in favor of McGloin, who played all but two series despite not starting.

BY THE NUMBERS:

From GoPSUsports:


Team Totals IOWA PSU
FIRST DOWNS 1621
Rushing 612
Passing 99
Penalty 10
NET YARDS RUSHING 84231
Rushing Attempts 3046
Average Per Rush 2.85
Rushing Touchdowns 00
Yards Gained Rushing 126240
Yards Lost Rushing 429
NET YARDS PASSING 169164
Completions-Attempts-Int 17-34-2 15-26-1
Average Per Attempt 56.3
Average Per Completion 9.910.9
Passing Touchdowns 01
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS 253395
Total offense plays 6472
Average Gain Per Play 45.5
Fumbles: Number-Lost 2-12-0
Penalties: Number-Yards 3-155-50
PUNTS-YARDS 4-158 5-219
Average Yards Per Punt 39.543.8
Net Yards Per Punt 39.532.6
Inside 20 21
50+ Yards 01
Touchbacks 03
Fair catch 21
KICKOFFS-YARDS 2-120 4-277
Average Yards Per Kickoff 6069.2
Net Yards Per Kickoff 47.549.2
Touchbacks 02
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD 1-4-0 0-0-0
Average Per Return -40
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD 2-40-0 2-25-0
Average Per Return 2012.5
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD 1-0-0 2-4-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD 0-0-0 0-0-0
Miscellaneous Yards 00
Possession Time 24:0635:54
1st Quarter 6:448:16
2nd Quarter 6:188:42
3rd Quarter 6:038:57
4th Quarter 5:019:59
Third-Down Conversions 7 of 16 5 of 14
Fourth-Down Conversions 1 of 3 1 of 1
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 1-13-4
Touchdowns 0-1 1-4
Field goals 1-12-4
Sacks By: Number-Yards 0-0 5-40
PAT Kicks 0-0 1-1
Field Goals 1-12-2

Penn State won time of possession convincingly.  The yards rushing was the key to this game.  Despite not putting a ton of points on the board, the Lions kept the ball moving, kept the clock running, kept Vandenberg off the field, and dominated this game.  I wonder: when was the last time Iowa didn't sack our QB?  I'll have to wait for the AFLAC duck on that one.

INTANGIBLES:

The Drum Major missed the second flip but nailed the important one.

Iowa won the toss and elected to receive, presumably hoping to put points on the board early.  Nice try.

And in what was one of the most classless, high school league moves I have seen in a while, the Hawkeye team waited until Penn State emerged from the tunnel to come out on the field at the same time.  Really lame and bush league, Hawks.  Why don't you just flock in the end zone and peck the 'Penn State' lettering?


Of course, the BEAT IOWA cheer was a little silly.  I don't know about you, but it seemed lame.  Maybe it's because it sounds too much like EAT IOWA.  Too many vowels.  It just doesn't roll off the tongue.  I hope we don't do that again.

The Penn State-Iowa series is now even at 12-12.

Joe Paterno notched win number 406 as the Lions move to 5-1 (2-0).  He only spent one half on the sidelines, apparently suffering a little pain after getting out of the way of a play.  The message boards across Nittany Nation spent most of the week dreaming of Urban Renewal at Penn State.  This was fueled in part by Meyer's presence on the TV crew, but also by Jeff Rapp who wrote about a source claiming that Urban would love the Penn State job.

Even John Eichelberger threw his opinion into the ring by saying that it was time for Joe to move on.  In his blog, the Senator applauded a Mirror article by Cory Giger calling for Paterno's resignation, if not in so many words.

And according to this Scout.com messageboard post, Urban Meyer referred to the Penn State quarterbacks as "our" quarterbacks before correcting himself.  I was at the game and did not hear this.  Those who remembered to DVR this can do their own sleuthing and draw their own conclusions.

While Penn State could do worse than Urban Meyer, I'd really like to see Boise State's head coach come to Penn State.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

Denard Robinson beat Northwestern 42-24, scoring 21 unanswered points.

The Cornhuskers notch their first conference victory and set a record for the biggest comeback in school history to defeat the Columbus Cheateyes 34-27, after trailing 27-6.

Illinois took care of business over Indiana, 41-20.

Purdue rolled over the pathetic gophers, 45-17.  Will Minnesota even win a game in the Big Ten?  Do they play Indiana?  No they don't.  Doesn't look good for the golden varmints.

Wisconsin and Michigan State took the week off.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  Dick Faust--Sleepless in Columbus Troy, OH.
2.  Pitt--chopped down by Buttgers.
3.  The Service Academies--all three lost yesterday
4.  F$U--lost to Wake Forest
5.  The Longhorns, crushed by Oklahoma 55-17.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Homecoming.  Noon kick-off.  Drink a boilermaker or two.  Roast some Perdue Purdue chicken.  Does it get any better than this?

Here's the Boiler's season to date:

W  Middle Tennessee State 27-24
L   Rice 22-24
W Southeast Missouri State 59-0
L  Notre Dame 10-38
W Minnesota 45-17

To keep the pattern going, the next game has to be a loss for them.

Basically, any team with a pulse has beaten Purdue.  That Southeast Missouri State victory was impressive, though.  Not.

PSU is 65-21-5 in Homecoming games, 39-6 under Paterno.  Look for #66 next week, which will put Paterno one behind Eddie Robinson's record of 408.