Sunday, October 28, 2012

Good Defense

As the shit-head Buckeye fan behind me said last night . . . that's not a penalty.  It's good defense!
Image from

Are choke holds now allowed in the Big Ten?  Is this part of the NCAA sanctions . . . they limit our scholarships AND the number of flags that can be thrown against our opponents?

The Scarlet Better

I don't know about you, but I'm scared!
Red at night, Sailors delight, or so the old adage goes.  But Scarlet at night was not a Lion's delight, as the Buckeyes bullied their way through the Penn State White House to a 35-23 victory before the best crowd of the season in Beaver Stadium. 

Scarlet is just an arrogant variation of red, or a suspect in Clue--you decide.

Have you ever gone to the bathroom to poop, and instead of a simple dump, wipe and run, it's just a big old mess?  You keep wiping and there's just more poop.  You don't know where it's coming from.  You wipe so much you're sore and red scarlet, and you're still covered in it.  Saturday night was kind of like that, except the shit was sitting behind me, wearing a scarlet Ohio State shirt.

I really don't have a problem with someone coming to an away game and rooting for their team.  But can't you sit in the visitor's section?  And if the only ticket you can find is from a Penn State traitor that sells out for a few bucks-eyes, could you at least be a good sport instead of a sore winner?

After every Ohio State score, the bastard would ask aloud (very loud), "Why is it so quiet in here?  Anyone?"  He would also hoot after every successful buckeye play.  I never really knew what hooting and hollering was before, but he clearly 'hooted.'  It was an annoying sound like fingernails grating on a chalkboard.  When fans were doing the WE ARE . . . PENN STATE!  Cheer, he was yelling Ohio State, instead of Penn State.  Quaint, but do Penn State Fans yell P - E - N - N when Ohio fans in Columbus spell their state?  I saw a foursome of Buckeyes (foureyes?) doing their YMCA imitation with O-H-I-O in our north end zone.  You don't see Nittany Lion fans contorting to spell out P-E-N-N in the Horseshoe do you?   Maybe they do--but they should not.  And then there was the ubiquitous, "let's go Buckeyes," with the emphasis placed so it sounds like Ba - Kize.  It was like some scarlet bird cawing aloud.

And while Chuck (see comments on the side bar) doesn't think that the referees care who wins the game, I'm sure the conference that pays their wages does.  And the real sad part is that the Ba-Kize were the better team on Saturday night, with or without the plethora of yellow flags (defensive holding on a punt that certainly didn't look like holding anyway--  give me a break Chuck!)--and more importantly, the lack of yellow flags on egregious PI passes (on Allen Robinson, and on the fake field goal) and non-calls on obvious holding that sprung Toni Braxton free several times to sing and dance in the Penn State secondary like he was on dancing with the stars with Hines Ward.  Hines Ward he will never be, though.

For the first time this season, I think the team took a step back.  Up to this point, each game seemed to show some improvement somewhere on the field.  The offensive game plans of O'Brien have been laudable, and perhaps eventually good enough to land him Coach of the Year honors.  But Saturday night, the offensive play calling seemed uninspired, and perhaps too hell bent on establishing a running game with Belton, particularly on first down plays.  While Ohio State enjoyed third and short yardage situations most of the night, Penn State often found itself in third and long, and too much pass pressure on McGloin by the Buckeye D to make an effective play.

And just like the opening game against Ohio, the lack of offensive continuity and the ability to control time of possession, ended up with a tired defense in the fourth quarter that just could not keep Ohio State from scoring.

McGloin, who looked like a Heisman contender last week, looked like an AFLAC pretender this week, although the play-calling was a factor, and the fact that our offensive line looked like it forgot to show up.

We also shot ourselves in the foot several times with stupid penalties (false starts), the obligatory pick six (I swear we average one per every Ohio State game since entering the Big Ten, but I probably exaggerate there,) and the inability of our return game to set up any decent field position.  I do credit the special teams with the block and recovery for our first score, but in the final analysis, it was too little to make a difference, and couldn't over come the rest of the poor special teams plays.  Butterworth had some good punts to pin the Bucks deep, but also shanked one to give them good field position.  Call it a wash there.  The failed fake punt was poorly executed, but there should have been pass interference called on that one.  But as the scarlet dick behind me said, "that was just good defense."  Yeah, and that (was it Hartline?) catch that bounced off the turf a few years ago was just a good catch.

The Buckeyes were the better team.  My fingertips are burning just typing those words, but I really wonder how we might have done if we hadn't had to battle the refs as well.  But that is what it is, and we Penn State fans are whiners.  Do you think maybe we'd stop whining about the bad refereeing if we actually saw some fair refereeing?  Makes you wonder.


Penn State tied Ohio State in first downs and almost in total yardage, but only had 32 yards in the rushing game.  The time of possession actually favored PSU in the second half, but the Buckeyes had a 2:1 edge after the first, which I think ultimately gassed our defense.  This is going to be a bigger problem moving forward as the sanctions keep the depth chart thin.

Penn State was averaging 4.5 penalties per game.  We doubled that production thanks to the zebras.  Bonus checks all around, boys!


The Drum Major stuck both flips, but it didn't help us.  Matt Freeman twirled fire batons during halftime without setting himself on fire, so we had that going for us.

Someone dressed up as a Joe Paterno statue for Halloween.  Points for ingenuity.

Erickson was booed at half time.  It's not like he doesn't deserve it, but it is what it is.  Some fans were outraged over the Academic procession that failed to even mention the football team's academic achievements as a slap in the face.

Attendance was 107,818.  Probably won't see that kind of enthusiasm for the rest of the season, unfortunately.  (I hope I am wrong.)

Penn State won the toss and elected to defer.  It was an interesting choice--this week and last--but it initially looked like it would pay off as the Lions held on the first series and forced a four and out (first play was a first down, then a three and out) and a punt.  But then PSU fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half, recovered to set up poor field position, and then McGloin threw the pick six that pretty much quenched the mojo for Penn State, and negated the deferral.


Northwestern beat Iowa 28-17, taking a little shine off our marquee win in Iowa City last week. Minnesota defeated Purdue 44-28.  But don't worry.  The Boilers and the refs will have their A-game on next week.   MSU beat the Badgers 16-13.  Those pesky Spartans just won't die, will they?  Nebraska beat THEM 23-9.  Indiana beat Illinois 31-17, so hopefully they won't feel the need to win any more Big Ten games.  Or, maybe we can't pencil that one in as a win yet.  Who knows?  It will be interesting to see how O'Brien can regroup this team, because let's face it.  This was our bowl game.  There is no post-season to play for, and while a conference division title is still possible, it is certainly not likely.  Can he regain the enthusiasm we saw building last week?


1.  Leggo my Legaux--Munchie throws a pick and comes up short as Cincy loses to Louisville 34-31 in OT.
2.  Temple lost to Pitt 44-17.  I have never been so disappointed by Hooters in all my life.
3. Ohio lost to Miami (OH) 23-20.  Our SOS is just being shot to hell here!
4. USC lost to Arizona 39-36.  Chuckle.
5. Rutgers suffers their first loss to . . . wait for it . . . KENT STATE.  35-23.  Now there's some irony right there in that score. 
6.  Denard Robinson not enough to beat the Huskers--lost 23-9.
7.  Oklahoma--lost at home to the 12 point under dog Irish.  Damned.  I'm actually going to have to root for Pitt next week.  Otherwise, USC may be our last hope to keep the Irish out of the BCS Title game, since BC and Wake Forest are a combined 6-10 on the season so far.


Penn State heads west to play Purdue in West Lafayette. 

The Boilers are a few points short of a good season, almost upsetting the Irish and the Buckeyes.  So far, here is their season:

W  Eastern Kentucky 48-6
L  Notre Dame 17-20
W Eastern Michigan W54-16
W Marshall 51-41
L THEM 44-13
L Wisconsin 38-14
L Ohio State 29-22 (OT)
L Minnesota 44-28

This is a test of the resilience of this team.  I think we have the senior leadership to regroup, but then I thought we had an offense that could score more than 23 points against the Buckeyes (16, since we can't count the blocked punt as offensive points now can we?)  This will also be a coaching test.  In the NFL, one loss in a conference doesn't necessarily eliminate you from contention.  In college, though, it can theoretically eliminate you not just from the National picture, but from winning the conference.  Hell, Oregon may go undefeated and watch Notre Dame play Alabama for the whole ball of wax.  Oh, the inhumanity!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sign of the Times

From Fight on State Audibles Board:

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Weekly Game Guide: Halloween Edition

It's Halloween night here in Central PA--or at least the night the little hoodlums are allowed to venture to my door in search of treats.

Clemson is taking on Wake Forest.  Guess I'll watch the Big Bang Theory tonight.

But there are some great games on tap this weekend . . .

PSU takes on OSU at Beaver Stadium to what will probably be a sell-out crowd.  The line has fluctuated from PSU favored by 3 to the Buckeyes favored by 1.  This won't be the usual 17-10 slugfest we have become accustomed to.  I look for a good bit of scoring, and for the PSU D to outperform the Bucks.  Penn State 31- OSU 17.  Two touchdowns.  You read it here first.

In the Big Ten:

Wisconsin is favored by 6 over the Spartans.  Sorry Sparty, but I gotta go with da Badgers on this one.  We play them and not you.  You are of no use to me now.  You blew it against THEM.  You are the weakest link!  Good Bye!  GO BADGERS!

Northwestern is favored by 5 over the Hawkeyes.  No brainer here.  GO WILDCATS!

Purdue is favored by 3 over Minnesota.  Sorry Gophers, but we don't play you, and a win by the Boilers may make them less desperate to beat us.  GO BOILERS!

Illinois is favored by 2 over the Hoosiers in the who cares game of the week.  But sooner or later, the Hoosiers are going to win a Big Ten game and I'd just as soon it not be against us.  GO HOOSIERS!

The Huskers are favored by 2 over THEM.  GO BIG RED!

In games featuring previous opponents:

Temple is a 7 point dog to Pitt.  GO OWLS!

Ohio is a 7 point favorite over Miami (OH).  GO BOBCATS!

Navy is a 3.5 dog to East Carolina.  I thought the Atlantic Ocean was East of Carolina.  Oh, Sweet Carolina (bom, bom, bom!)  GO MIDSHIPMEN!

Virginia's six game losing streak since "beating" Penn State takes a week off.

In other games:

Oklahoma takes on the Irish.  The only thing worse than PSU not going to a bowl game is ND in the national title game.  OK is a 12 point favorite.  GO SOONERS!

And I guess there are some other games as well.  Whatever.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"EYE"-ing Up the Bucks

Here are the NCAA stats for Penn State versus Ohio State.

The over-all stat average difference this week (43.43 vs. 54.97) is even greater than last week (46.92 vs. 52.14 for Iowa.)  And we all know how well that worked out for the Hawkeyes.  On paper, Penn State should have an easier time with the Buckeyes.

The strength of Ohio State is their offense, and this is primarily on the ground.  How much last week's injury to Braxton Miller will have an effect remains to be seen. 

I actually am liking this match-up.  We have the better passing offense, and they have a significantly worse pass defense.  Both teams are tough defensively in the red zone, and against the run.  Penn State's rank in red zone offense still includes early season struggles and a lot of missed field goals, so that stat is skewed.  In other words, I think we are a better red zone team now than we were in the first four games.

Ohio State also appears to be better at fourth down conversions, but they have only attempted 8 conversions, making 6.  Penn State, on the other hand, by virtue of no kicking threat, have tried on fourth down 23 times!  And many of those were fourth and longer than a yard or two--I suspect most of the Buckeye's conversion were on fourth and short.

We are still woefully weak in almost all special teams areas--punting, kick-offs and returns.  In a close game, special teams problems could be huge.  I don't expect a quick fix here, so we have to hope that the offense can score enough points and control the ball like they did against Iowa to keep the special teams element a non-factor in this game.

It will be key for Penn State to jump on top quickly--it will keep the crowd in the game and put the pressure on the Buckeyes to respond in a hostile environment.  It will also be key to limit the mistakes as much as possible--fumbles, returns for TDs, etc.

I also fear the referees.  Neither of these teams is going to the post-season.  The outcome means nothing in terms of Big Ten representation in the bowl season.  But the Buckeyes are ranked in the Top 10, and one of only two Big Ten teams in the AP poll (THEM is ranked 20th, but may lose on the road to Nebraska this weekend.)  Thus, in the eyes of the conference, it is essential that the Buckeyes prevail.  Yeah, there's replay, if the Bucks don't line up faster than an offensive lineman at an all you can eat buffet and run a play before it can be reviewed.  Mark my words--the calls on the field will go in Ohio State's favor if there is any question, and we can only pray that instant replay will right the wrong. 

Check out the rankings for fewest penalties . . . PSU is 19th while the Bucks are 96th.  The actual numbers are 4.57 penalties per game for Penn State and 7.5 per game for the Bucks.  I will be more than surprised if those numbers aren't reversed Saturday.

But, it's not like this Penn State team hasn't faced and over come adversity this season.

Saturday is just one more test.  One more game.  One Team.  Another win.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hawk and Awe

Staying Classy in Iowa City . . .
Penn State unleashed a hell storm of shock and awe all over the Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City.  A final score of 38-14 doesn't even begin to indicate how lopsided this victory was.  And make no mistake about it, even die hard fans like myself couldn't have fantasized about an outcome like this.  Most of us would have been happy, even giddy, with a one point victory.  It's like coming home after a long, hard day at the office and your wife greeting you at the door wearing only a smile.  And she's invited her single friend, the hot girl down the street, over for a threesome--if you don't mind.  And all the way home, all you were hoping for was that dinner would be ready.

Yeah.  It's like that.  Dinner would have been just fine.  In a season that just seems to keep getting better and better, when one could only reasonably expect more misery, these Nittany Lions just keep surprising everyone.  In the annals of recent games, this ranks right up there, and perhaps higher, than Nebraska in 2002 (40-7) , Minnesota in 2005 (44-14), or Wisconsin in 2008, a 48-7 win at Camp Randall.

And for Penn State fans on the Internet, it was especially gratifying to quiet the Iowa trolls that appear each year before this game like a case of recurrent herpes.  Mark Wogenrich of the Morning Call writes that the jawing carried from the Internet into the stadium . . .
The first few rows of stands at Kinnick Stadium practically sit atop the visiting team's bench, making it easy for fans to share their thoughts with players. Credit the Iowa group: They were still jawing in the fourth quarter, even when their team trailed 38-7.

"Hey McGloin," one guy yelled. "You going to call the cops on me again?"

Throwing towels, and jabs about Jerry Sandusky, continued long after the Penn State offense had lapped Iowa in a 24-0 first half designed, in part, to quiet the 70,585 in attendance. Cornerback Stephon Morris called the environment 'hostile" in a sporting way, though he did hear Sandusky's name quite a bit.

"Typical drunk fans," Morris said. "But it was fun, especially at the end."
Apparently McGloin informed the cops that fans were throwing things at the team.  Makes you kind of wish Zwinak hadn't pulled a Michael Vick while fumbling into the end zone for a touch back.  But even 45-14 isn't enough for the childish Sandusky slurs.

The first half was perhaps one of the best altogether first halves of football Penn State has played in a while, racing out to a 24-0 half time lead.  Penn state then opened the second half with their best kick-off return of the year, and two plays later, they upped their dominance to 31-0.  Play got a little sloppy in the fourth quarter, with a special teams breakdown giving up a TD on a kick off, and a blocked field goal.  Another fumble by Zwinak stopped a drive. 

Many will second guess O'Brien's choice to go for it on fourth and one from our own 36 in the third quarter, but quite frankly, I liked the call.  PSU was up 31 to zip, the offense, the Zwinak fumble on the previous possession not withstanding, was really rolling, and McGloin has been gold on the sneak in those situations.  We went to the well one too many times, but Iowa failed to put any points on the board anyway, as the defense rose to the occasion. 

Penn State then followed that stand with a 14 play, 97 yard drive that put them up 38-0 with only fourteen minutes to go.

I would like to think had Penn State been nursing a small lead, been behind, or had problems on offense, O'Brien would not have made that call.  But there was simply no reason on Earth not to go for it as our defense had already shut the Hawkeyes down all night and one score would not put them back into that game, as evidenced by the kick off return which failed to do little more than excite the handful of drunkards still hanging out in Kinnick Stadium.

In the end, it was a gratifying win on a day when the likes of THEM, Ohio State and ND all pulled wins out of their collective asses, further bolstering the appearance that they are better than they really are.


You want some numbers to crunch?  Chew on these right here:  Matt McGloin rushed for 26 yards on five carries.  The entire Hawkeye team rushed for 20 yards on 23 carries.  Silas Redd (USC) rushed for 13 yards on 3 carries.

I'll be the first to admit that I was a wee bit leery about Ted Roof as our new defensive coordinator.  But let's face it, this defense is playing better each week .  If only we had a special teams coach!

PSU outgained the Hawkeyes 504 to 209 yards.  Belton notched a hundred yard game. 

Despite the NASCAR hurry-up offense, PSU still controlled time of possession with 38 minutes of offensive plays.  Holy Paradox, Batman!

Mike Myers, the Iowa kicker, was supposedly having a good year.  He missed two field goals, winning the Ficken Trophy.


70,585 fans attended the game.
I didn't know corn could do that!
The Nittany Lions have won five games in a row.

Penn State leads the all-time series 13-12.  I don't vacate wins.  Kiss my grits, Emmert.

Penn State won the toss and elected to defer.  This was a little out of character for O'Brien who likes to put points on the board first.  I suspect he respected Iowa's defense, and felt confident that his own D would hold.  Or maybe he just wanted to switch things up.


The Buckeyes win, but lose, coming from behind to defeat Purdue.  The Boilermakers led until 56 second left in the game, when the Ohio State back-up QB engineered a scoring drive and two-point conversion to send the game into OT.  The Bucks prevailed 29-22, but the status of Braxton Miller is up in the air for next weeks game at Beaver Stadium.

Little brother came from behind to beat Michigan State without scoring a single touchdown in a 12-10 victory that would have made Joe Paterno as happy as a tornado in a trailer park.  The Spartan season continues to free fall.  Even the ancient Greeks weren't this tragic.

Nebraska edged Northwestern 29-28 in a come from behind win.  Indiana lost to Navy 31-30.  Wisconsin badgered the Gophers 38-13.


1.  West Virginia--another lopsided loss, this one to K-State 55-14
2.  South Carolina -  back to back losses to LSU and Florida.  No shame,  But tough none the same.
3.  Va Tech--  4-4 on the season after loss to Clemson.
4.  Temple lost to Rutgers 35-10 after leading 10-0.
5.  Auburn is 1-6 after losing to Vanderbilt.  Maybe they miss Ted Roof?




The Buckeyes are undefeated but limp into this matchup after an OT win against the Boilers and possibly losing their starting QB, Toni Braxton Miller.  However, before we get too excited, let's keep in mind that the Buckeye's back-up came in and finished the job, albeit against Purdue.  Bill O'Brien won't have much tape to look at in regards to Kenny Guiton, so that may negate some advantage there.  They also struggled with an MSU team that lost to Iowa and quite frankly, was a bit over-rated.  That there's an understatement!

On the other hand, the Nittany Lions seem to be hitting their stride.  Mauti is playing lights out, and Belton appears healthy and faster than before.  I really can't wait for next Saturday!

Urban Who?

It was only speculation as to whether Urban Meyer was really interested in succeeding Paterno or not, but there is no denying he didn't let the door hit him on the ass on the way out when all hell broke loose in Happy Valley last year.  He's no better than the players who abandoned ship.

And in retrospect, I'm glad Meyer is not our coach.  I'm more than happy with Bill O'Brien and couldn't even name another coach I'd rather have leading our football team.  And I think we will see who the better coach is come Saturday.  And if you need another reason to hate Urban . . . his initials are UM, that team up north.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Weekly Game Guide: Ottumwa Iowa Edition

Oregon takes on Arizona State tonight as the Ducks try to edge Florida out of the #2 BCS spot.  The Ducks are favored by 10.  But I like the weather in Arizona better.  GO SUN DEVILS!

Two touchdowns in the first 1:12 of the game (score 7-7)!  That's some fine defensive football right there.

Iowa is still favored over the Lions, but the line has dropped to 2.5. GO STATE!

In the Big Ten:

Michigan State is a 9.5 point dog to "little brother" in Ann Arbor.  Can the schizophrenic Spartans pull the upset?  I certainly hope so.  GO SPARTANS!

The Buckeyes are favored by 20 over Purdue.  Can the Perdue Ovenstuffers stuff Braxton and the Bucks?  I don't think so.  But I'll be rooting for the Boilers just the same.  GO PURDUE!

Wisconsin is favored by 17 over Minnesota.  What the heck?  GO GOPHERS!

Indiana faces off against the Midshipmen of Navy.  Navy is favored by 2.5 points.  GO NAVY!

Iowa has a football team???
Nebraska is favored by 7 over Northwestern.  GO WILDCATS!

Illinois is off, and no one will likely notice.

In games featuring previous opponents:

Ohio has a bye week.

Virginia is favored by 3.5 over Wake Forest.  Virginia has beaten only one FBS school:  Penn State.  And they should have lost that one too!  GO CAVS!

Rutgers is a 4.5 favorite over the Owls.  GO TEMPLE!

In other games of interest:

The Irish are favored over BYU by 13.  Please God, help BYU win.  Throw the Mormons a bone.  Besides, adversity builds character.  Notre Dame needs some character building.  Please.  GO COUGARS!

Florida is favored by 3.5 over South Carolina.  GO GAMECOCKS!

LSU is favored by 3 over Texas A & M.  Yeah.  we really like Les Miles.  Not.  GO AGGIES!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"EYE"-ing up the Hawks

Iowa has inched up to a three point favorite for the upcoming prime time clash in Iowa City Saturday night.  Why?  I have no idea.  So let's explore this thing called the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Here is their season to date. 

They are 4-2 with uninspired losses to teams they probably should have beaten or would normally, in a season not known as 2012, have beaten.  In that respect, they are not unlike the Nittany Lions, although one might be able to spend some quality time arguing whether Ohio and Virginia are higher quality losses than Iowa State and Central Michigan.  Their marquee victory, last weeks double OT tilt over the Spartans, is probably not any more significant than Penn State's come from behind win over Northwestern.  MSU obviously started the season ranked and even made it into the top 10 before watching thie season crash and burn with losses to ND, OSU and Iowa.  Northwestern has a better record, but not the strength of schedule that the Spartans boast.
So let's just call the 4-2 seasons between Penn State and Iowa a tie.  Let's look at some stats, shall we?  I post the NCAA stats for these two teams in table form, with blue indicating an edge for PSU and yellow an advantage for the Hawks.

As you can see, PSU has a slight edge over all.  There are 19 blue categories and 17 yellow ones.  It's like a damned Electoral College map of the US.  Turnover margin remained neutral.

Neither offense is prolific.  Neither defense is oppressive.

The three point spread basically amounts to home field advantage as the odds makers seem to think this is a pretty closely matched game.

In the end, this may come down to intangibles. 

The overall record, not taking into account any vacations, is 12-12.  Penn state won the last meeting in State College last year, 13-3.

Since 2000, the Lions have beaten Iowa only twice (2007, 2011) and have had such monumentally CRapp-tastic(*) efforts as a 6-4 loss in 2004 and an epic fail in 2008 when we were ranked 3rd behind the guidance of Daryll Clark.  With a few exceptions, these match-ups tend to be low scoring, defensive struggles, or more correctly, games where the offenses struggle.

But this is not Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions anymore.  This is O'Brien's Lions, and is a much different creature than Captain Kirk has faced before.

The Lions are on a roll, winning four in a row.  I feel they have shown improvement each week, with the exception of special teams, and it has been a long time since I've been able to say that about a Penn State team.  I have only been blogging since the mid-nineties, and I don't think we've ever seen a team continue to develop game to game like we have seen this season.

And while a new coach like O'Brien adds a degree of uncertainty to the mix (and certainly that is an advantage offensively), given that Ferentz and Co. have to actually look at game tape this year, we must keep in mind that the converse is true as well.  O'Brien has probably never given Iowa a thought before this past week.  Why would he?  He was too busy trying to prepare for the Steelers and the Ravens, although I suspect Hawkeye tastes much like Raven, if prepared properly.  And in a certain light, those Hawkeye uniforms look like Steelers.  I hope he doesn't have bad flashbacks!

In fact, what O'Brien has achieved is phenomenal.  How many teams would be 6-2 with a new coach, new system, NCAA sanctions, and losing 10-11 players before the season starts, especially at key positions such as starting RB, WR and place kicker?  NOT MANY.  At any level of play.

Penn State has not won at Iowa City since 1999.  But this weekend, the Lions are going to party like it's 1999.  I think we will see an inspired game plan that old Ferentz is unaccustomed to.  I think the Iowa D will be exposed just as we exposed the supposedly good front line of the Illini.  Mark Weisman is listed on ESPN as doubtful.  The bye week gives us a chance to nurse some injuries and to continue to innovate on offense.  Have you noticed that we see new plays each game?  I know!  What is up with that!?

That said, it will be a cold October night in Iowa.  Last time, we didn't bring the heaters.  I hope to God we bring the heaters.  No need to give your opponent any more advantage than they might already have.  I don't know if we would have won in 2008 with sideline heaters, but in my little blue and white world, I have convinced myself that we would have prevailed in that game.  But I digress.

It will be cold in Iowa.  At night.  Before a hostile, loud crowd.  Even with my Kool Aid drinking offensive wet dreams, I still think this will be a close, relatively low scoring affair.  That is just the nature of this particular beast.  I just hope it doesn't come down to a field goal!
Need a Blue and White verision of this!

(*) CRapp = Cedar Rapids (Iowa) App.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pigskin Postgames: Bye Week Edition

Defenseless WVU plummets from the Top 10 after tanking at Texas Tech.  The Neers managed a paltry 14 points while giving up 49 to the Red Raiders.  Speaking of giving up, Pitt is 0-3 in their conference after being beaten 45-35 by an undefeated Louisville team. 

Oklahoma took Texas out behind the woodshed for a good old fashioned beating, 63-21.  That's going to leave a mark.

Alabama owns all the first place votes in both polls after beating Missouri 42-10 in a game delayed due to lightning.  Those 10 points include a kickoff return of 98 yards by Mizzou after the delay.

Texas A & M handed La Tech their first loss in another exciting exhibition of no defense football.  The final score:  59-57.  Can you imagine scoring 57 points . . . AND LOSING!?  Okay, it's pretty easy to imagine in the Big XII.

Hey!  Navy beat CMU 31-13!

Rutgers is undefeated, and nobody cares.  So is Ohio.  The Bobcats broke the AP Top 25.

Temple beat UConn 16-13 in OT.

The Irish may have won, but apparently Stanford lost as the replay couldn't even overcome the mystical aura of Notre Dame stadium.  Coach Kelley was quoted afterward saying, "Very good opponent in Stanford, but today Notre Dame was better."  He said that with a straight face.  On Saturday, Notre Dame wasn't the better team, but the referees were not the best either.

South Carolina came up short against LSU by two and failed to recover an on-sides kick that would have really made the night interesting.

In the Big Ten, the Buckeyes edged Indiana 52-49.  That's some fine defense right there by the Buckeyes.  Pizza Delivery guys beware.  Ixnay on the oopidstay efenseday!  There's going to be a serious jump in unemployment in Columbus if that crap keeps up. 

Denard Robinson pounded Illinois into a senseless pulp, 45-0.  The Greek Tragedy that is Michigan State's season continued, as Iowa slipped past Sparty 19-16 in double OT thanks to a tipped INT.  Northwestern beat Minnesota 21-13--nice rebound for Fitzgerald's crew.  Wisconsin found someone they could beat, as they guzzled some Boilermakers en route to a 38-14 victory.

Minnesota's coach Jerry Kill suffered another seizure following Saturday's loss to Northwestern.  He appears to be okay, but it is uncertain whether he will be able to coach next week against Wisconsin.  Prayers for Jerry Kill and his family.

And, a belated Rest In Peace to Beano Cook, who passed away this week.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Our Wife: Their Wife


Yahoo Sports reported that a pizza delivery guy was fired from his job after delivering a pizza to Buckeye Assistant Coach Luke Fickell's house.  The man "joked" to Mrs. Fickell that the Buckeye defense needs to improve its tackling (which, apparently, it does.)  This angered her and after a call to the pizza shop, the man is now unemployed.

But according to Lost Letterman, Ohio State has a different story.  (Those are not our tattoos.  There is no video issue.  You saw nothing.)
Ohio State refuted that claim in a statement: “The manager found out about the incident. The manager called the Fickells. Just like they did not place a call to complain, they also did not ask that anyone be fired. All they did was order pizza.”
So who do you believe?


Coach Mac McWorther's wife helps out preparing Penn State players.  According to the Altoona Mirror:
Part of coach Bill O'Brien's coaching philosophy is to have a family orientated program. O'Brien sometimes allows coaches' children and spouses to attend practice, and he tries to make the team have a family friendly feel to it.

Becky McWorther, or Mamma Hog as she is affectionately known to the offensive linemen, is one of the wives that loves being around the players.

McWorther said on a conference call Wednesday that his wife even hugs every linemen after practice, no matter how sweaty or smelly they are.

Mamma Hog has a Friday ritual where she cooks up what McWorther described as hot treats for the linemen for them to have before the next day's game.

The ingredients in those treats remain a mystery, however.

"There are some things that she cooks up, and there are special ingredients in those things that allow them to play at a high level," McWorther joked on a conference call Wednesday. "I would really have to kill you if I told you what was in them, it is that secret."

In addition to cooking the treats for her hogs, Mamma Hog also prepares a speech for the players that tells them what the food will allow them to do the following day's game.

So which would you rather have?  A humorless cut throat, or hot tasty treats and a hug?

Weekly Game Guide: Bye Week Edition

Penn State has the week off.  I hope this goes well.  The last bye week Penn State had was the weekend of Nov. 5th--when the Grand Jury Presentment was "leaked" and Paterno was subsequently fired before the next home game.  This bye week HAS to be better.

Arizona State is taking on Colorado tonight.  Pick whomever you want in this one, for I care not.  (I'm actually watching the Steeler game and my beloved Steelers are down 16-10 at the half, so good mood and I are not in the same room right now.)

In the Big Ten:

The mighty (annoying) Buckeyes look to pound Indiana and are favored by 17.5.  Last week I said that Indiana was bound to win a conference game sooner or later and I'd rather they beat Michigan State than us.  Indiana almost upset the Spartans.  So, let's try again.  Indiana is bound to beat someone in the Big Ten.  It might as well be Ohio State.  GO HOOSIERS!

THEM is favored by 24.5 over Illinois.  I'll throw the Illini a bone.  GO POACHERS!

Northwestern ( favored by 3.5)  looks to rebound against Minnesota.  GO WILDCATS!

What is this?  Purdue is favored by two over Wisconsin?  Can that be?  We play both, and both are in our division, so in the great, grand scheme of things, it matters not.  GO BOILERS!

The Spartans are favored by 7.5 over our next opponent, Iowa.  GO HAWKEYES!  But don't get too confident!

Nebraska joins Penn State in the bye week. 

In games featuring past opponents:

Virginia is favored by 1 over Maryland.  GO CAVS!

Ohio is favored by 20 over Akron.  GO BOBCATS!

Connecticut is a 5.5 point favorite over Temple.  GO OWLS!

Navy is a two point dog in a Friday night game that does not feature Pitt.  GO NAVY!

In other games of interest:

The Irish are favored by 7 over Stanford.  GO TREE!

USC is favored by 13.5 over Washington.  GO HUSKIES!

Texas and Oklahoma play each other.  Oklahoma is a three point home favorite.  I don't care who wins, but Schadenfreude hopes the loss is because Brown drops a sure TD pass or Fera misses another kick.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Purple Slain

Words will fail me. 

In the great, grand scheme of things, this game was fairly meaningless.  Penn State is not playing for a national championship.  They're not playing for a conference title.  There is no bowl game on the horizon.  Virginia lost today, but no one really cares about our strength of schedule.  Northwestern cared; they were ranked and 5-0.  Key word there is were.

But to the people that still care about Penn State football . . .  the players, their coaches, the alumni and all the loyal fans . . . this was an amazingly emotional and gratifying win.  It can't compare to games like the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, the 1983 Sugar Bowl, the 48-14 thumping of #1 Pitt, or the 2005 victory over Ohio State, to name a few, but make no mistake about it, this was a special win.

It almost brought tears to my eyes, and it did bring a lump in my throat.  I am losing my voice from yelling.

Even if I could speak, words would fail me.

Make no mistake about it, what started as a wet, overcast day, got more raw and cold as the crowd watched Alex Butterworth uncork a 54 yard punt (and really, let's be honest here, we were just ecstatic that he didn't shank it again) that would then be returned 75 yards to put the boys in purple up 28-17 with less than a minute to go in the third quarter.  Things looked bleak, indeed.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to an imminent loss.  McGloin took control of his team, and Penn State needed him to step up.  He wasn't helped by four or five drops by his receivers, nor his less than laser sharp throws in the game to this point.  The sharks were circling and he was bleeding in the water.

But he capped off an 18 play, 82 yard drive with an 8 yard strike to his favorite target, Allen Robinson.  And then O'Brien opted to go for the two point conversion.  Certainly, this makes a lot of sense because a field goal will tie the game if you are successful.  But that assumes we can kick another field goal, and if Northwestern holds, you are four points down and forced to score 6, since two safeties would be a ridiculous extrapolation of this thought process.

Penn State converted the two point conversion and you could feel the emotion shift in the stadium.  Although the stadium was no where near capacity, it was perhaps as loud as it has ever been as Northwestern was humbled by the Penn State defense into a three and out.

This was a team on a mission, and it was a team effort.

Under a punishing rush attack by Zach Zwinak ("Z Rally Wheels!"), McGloin led this team on an 85 yard, 15 play drive capped off by his own scamper into the corner of the south endzone to put the Lions on top 32-28.  Unfortunately for us, there was still 2:37 on the clock.

But before the thundering crowd, the defense rose to the occasion like the sun rising over this game as it emerged from the darkness like a phoenix born again from ashes.  Northwestern turned the ball over on four downs, leaving 1:48 on the clock. 

All Penn State had to do was run out the clock, and run they did.  Northwestern held on first down and then called a time out.  They had enough time outs to possibly get the ball back and threaten to ruin this day once again, but the football Gods were angered by this impudence, and Zordich broke the line of scrimmage to the left on the next play, bouncing it outside and up the sideline to the three yard line.  Zordich then scored on the next play, and a Sam Ficken who was perfect on the day gave the final score of 39-28 and finished a 22 point turn around in the fourth quarter.

Yet, the purple monster wouldn't die.  Northwestern managed a single first down (the only one of the fourth quarter for the Wildcats,) before Gerald Hodges said no more of this, knocking the ball on the turf so that Da'Quan Davis could recover it.  Game.  Set.  Match.

McGloin took a knee and sprinted across the field to shake hands with Pat Fitzgerald.

Ohio State players may not want to go to class, but Penn State players are all class.

Congratulations, Nittany Lions.  And thanks for a great game!


A week after the Wildcats gained 700 yards against Indiana, Penn State held them to 247, well below their season average.  PSU amassed 443 yards with 161 on the ground and controlled time of possession 39:17 to 20:43.  Northwestern had the ball on 3:15 in the fourth quarter, and gained only 26 yards in the final 16 minutes of play.

Penn State had only three penalties, one of which was a befuddling phantom PI that kept a Wildcat drive alive for a TD, brought boos from the crowd, and brought O'Brien out on the field in righteous indignation.  His fire ignited the team though, and may have been crucial spark to the offensive explosion that Penn State produced in the final quarter.

Northwestern's best plays were the phantom PI and the muffed punt by PSU.


The Blue Band Drum Major stuck both flips and the Alumni Band performed for the 50th straight year.

Penn State won the toss and took the ball first.

The listed crowd of 95,769 looked much less than that.  What is wrong with everyone?  This is an exciting team that is FUN TO WATCH.  You want to be dissatisfied with the BOT and administration, so be it.  But get your ass in that stadium and cheer on these young men.  Although it took until the second quarter, the students finally managed to make it to the game.  We need to step up for O'Brien, Mauti, McGloin and all the rest.  JUST.  DO.  IT.


The Spartans were almost but not quite upset by the pesky Hoosiers.  Sparty prevailed 31-27, scoring two TDs in the fourth.

THEM dominated Purdue 44-13.

Urban Meyer won his second Big Ten game, pasting Nebraska 63-38.  But then, the Buckeyes did go there to play football, not to go to classes.

Illinois tussled with Wisconsin, but came up short, losing 31-14.


1.  F$U--beaten by the Wolfpack 17-16 late in the game.
2.  Pitt--lost to Syracuse 17-16 in that coveted Friday night spot.
3.  Irish fans who had to see those God awful helmets with the split personality.  Seriously, is there a prize for the team that comes up with the worst uniforms????
4.  Texas--lost to West Virginia 48-45 with Fera missing a field goal.  Schadenfreude.
5.  LSU--swamped by Florida 14-6.  Twenty points in the SEC?  And the lowest scoring Big Ten game featured 45 points this weekend, with one game over a 100!
6.  Georgia--romped by South Carolina 35-7. 


Penn State has a bye week next week before heading to Iowa.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Weekly Game Guide: Northwestern GPS Edition

It's Friday night. The bands are playing. The teams are playing. The crowds are cheering. There's nothing like high school football!

Pitt's playing too, and the crowd in the Carrier Dome won't be cheering for them.  The panthers are a 3 point favorite.  And Friday night is their night.  The great thing about playing for Pitt is that you always get to watch football on Saturday!  GO ORANGE!

Penn State remains about a 3.5 point favorite at home over ranked Northwestern.

Just what is Northwestern northwestern of?  Seattle is northwestern.  For an academic institution, you would expect better directions.
Northwestern . . .of Cincinnati?
The people in purple apparently had a quaint tradition of dumping the goal posts into Lake Michigan following a win.  According to the Urban Dictionary:
Lake the Post
At Northwestern University, it refers to old tradition of dragging the field goal posts from the football field to Lake Michigan in order to dump them. This happened in the period of time when NU had one of the worst football teams in the nation, and laking the posts was done during the occasional victory or notable defeat.
Apparently "lake" can be used as a verb. I did not know that.  And why one would want to pollute a lake in this manner, one can only guess.  But Northwestern is known for their geniuses--they are the Michigan of Chicago, the Michicago--so the event must be something special.

I hope they have a notable defeat this Saturday.  It will be fun to see them drag those goalposts across the country to Lake Michigan.  They may have to settle for Lake Raystown, though.  Or they might just skip it altogether, and no one would notice.  GO STATE!  BEAT WILDCATS!

Ross Went to Northwestern.  Rachel went . . . elsewhere.

The Spartans are 14.5 point favorites at Indiana.  What the heck!  Let's root for the Hoosiers.  Sooner or later they are going to beat a Big Ten team, and I'd just as soon it not be us.  Michigan State's season has already descended into Greek purgatory.  GO HOOSIERS!

Denard Robinson takes on the Boilermakers at Purdue.  He's favored by 3.  No brainer here.  GO BOILERS!

The Badgers try to rebound from wearing ugly uniforms last week to play at Illinois.  Bucky is favored by 14.5.  We still don't like Beckman and his merry band of recruiters.  GO BADGERS!

Julia Louis-Dreyfus learned to dance
. . . at Northwestern!

The Big Bad Buckeyes are 5 point favorites over Nebraska in Columbus.  I'll have to give this some thou . .. GO HUSKERS!

MINNESOTA and IOWA are off.  Well, we all knew that.  But they're not playing football this weekend either.  Maybe practicing.  Didn't they play each other last week?  Now they are off.  Together.  This is more than a little suspicious.  I think they're fooling around.  Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Previous Opponents:

Ohio is a 16 point home favorite over Buffalo.  GO BOBCATS!

Navy is a 10 point dog to the Air Force.  GO NAVY!

I didn't see a line for Duke hosting Virginia.  GO CAVS!

South Florida is a 5 point favorite over the Temple Owls.  GO HOOTERS!

Jerry Springer went to Northwestern
. . .  and he's still smiling!
Around the Nation:

USC beat Utah last night, but the Utes scared them a bit, jumping out ot a 14 point lead.  The prophylactics won 38-28.  Did you know if you rearrange the letters S-I-L-A-S-R-E-D-D, it also spells Ass Riddle?  Or Reads Lids?  Sad Slider?  Dried Lass?  But I digress.

LSU is favored by 3 over Florida.  GO GATORS!

The Irish are 13 point favorites over Miami (FL).  The game is in Chicago.  Go figure.  GO CANES!

Oklahoma is a 4.5 point fave over Texas Tech.  GO RED RAIDERS!

Texas is a 6.5 point favorite over the Mountaineers.  I can't believe I'm typing this, but., GO WVU!

The pro team in Tuscaloosa is off this week.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Move Along Buddy . . .

Upon Further Review

Did you watch the end of the Nebraska-Wisconsin game on Saturday night?

Nebraska took the lead 30-27 in the fourth quarter.  On their last possession, the Badgers were driving and came up with a 3rd and 11.  O'Brien (the QB, not the coach) completed a pass to Frederick but on camera he appeared to be short of the first down by a good yard.  The refs--those near and dear and lovable Big Ten zebras of honor--spotted the ball a yard further.  The spot was so clearly botched I was having flashbacks to Ann Arbor in 2005.

Now this may seem innocuous, but the circumstances were really more bizarre and nefarious than that.  The line judge, who improperly spotted the ball, signalled to move the chains without a measurement and without the head referee signalling for a first down.  No one else even looked at the spot as the chain gang moved on.  Remember, they can't see the unofficial yellow line on the field that we see.

It was only after a review, that it was confirmed that the ball had not been spotted properly, and this brought up a fourth and one situation.  Late in the game with time running out, the Badgers elected to go for it, fumbled, and the rest, shall we say, is history.

But I ask you?  How is that these competent referees mis-spot a ball by a yard?

And why, in a crucial situation, even with the added yardage, when the spot was still close enough to demand a measurement, would you move the flags before such a measurement?  Obviously, the Badgers wanted to save time because the clock was running down (1:11 when Nebraska took over after the fumble). . . so why not stop the clock and check the measurement?

It truly appeared as if the refs, or at least the one spotting the ball and moving the chains in a damned big hurry, was intent on helping Wisconsin.  Why else would you not measure if your real desire is to get the correct call?

Even more astonishing to me, though, is that the ref in the video replay booth chose to stop play and review it.  (He probably had to at that point since the spot was so ridiculously wrong.)  Had he not done that, the Badgers would have had a first down, and the next play likely wouldn't have been a handoff, botched or otherwise, to Montee Ball.  The outcome of that game could have been different without replay.  If the fix was on to help the Badgers, the replay booth botched the opportunity, so that argues against a conspiracy.  But how many refs does it take to conspire???  If I were in charge of officiating, I think punitive action against the ref on the field moving the chains prematurely would be in order.

I bring this up because of that 2005 debacle in Ann Arbor.  I'm sure I still have the tape around here somewhere collecting dust.  While everyone remembers the heel-toe controversy and the infamous two seconds, most people don't recall the multiple favorable spots the wolverines got all game long.  And for the record, the heel-toe should have been reviewed, but perhaps not over turned.  You might wonder why that is important, but it would have stopped play and allowed our defense to rest and regroup while a legitimately close play was re-evaluated.  Lord, we added four extra minutes to Saturday's game to review QB sneaks where you couldn't even see the ball on the replay!

Reviewing a play, even if it stands, can have unforeseen effects on the outcome of a game.  In this game in Lincoln, one blogger felt that reviewing a potential scoring play for the Badgers, gave Bielema time to rethink his strategy:
Bad break: On third-and-goal in the first quarter, Nebraska’s defense stopped Montee Ball one foot shy of the end zone. Bret Bielema sent his kicking team on to the field. But officials interrupted action to review the third-down play. That allowed Bielema to re-think his fourth-down strategy. Officials confirmed the call and Ball scored on fourth down. If officials don’t review the call, Wisconsin settles for three points.
And, if Ficken were kicken, there might be no points!  But I digress.

Getting back to spotting the ball in 2005, there were at least two times I recall watching the line judge come running in from the sideline to mark the ball, and drifting forward like a drunken sailor as he did so, adding almost two yards onto the final spot of the ball and assuring that the wolverines made a first down.

And as Wisconsin proved on Saturday night, spotting the ball properly is important.  The game just might hinge on those precious inches of turf.

And what if they hadn't stopped play to review it? 

We will never know.  But at least the correct call was made in 2012, if not in 2005.

Can't Spell UNSPORTSMANLIKE without O-S-U

Did you know that Urban Meyer won his Big Ten debut game?

Did you know that Michigan State lodged a complaint against the Buckeyes before the game concerning game tapes?

And yes, I know you can't spell UnSPortsmanlike without a P-S-U either.  But the title is still catchy, doncha think? And in this context, more than alphabetically appropriate.

According to this USA Today report:
Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said Ohio State doctored the game film it was required to send to MSU before Saturday's game.

Narduzzi told the Detroit Free Press that Ohio State cut off pre-snap motions and shifts before plays on film of its four games prior to Saturday's 17-16 OSU win at Spartan Stadium.

"We had tape cut off all week, where they changed the tape, I'm not going to lie to you," Narduzzi said outside the MSU locker room. "They send you tape and they've got it all cut off, and you don't get to see shifts or motions or anything else."

Big Ten teams are required to provide game film to each other before they play, with footage shot by their respective video staffs. Narduzzi said MSU contacted Ohio State's non-league opponents and got film from them.
It's good to see that Urban Meyer is taking the high road at THE Ohio State U.  Oh, wait.  It's not his fault!
"I don't know anything about that," Meyer said after his news conference. "I don't handle the video. What are they saying?"
Apparently NCAA and Big Ten head coaches are responsible for former employees and investigating crimes, but are not responsible for the operations of their actual football teams.
Asked if he was concerned about a Big Ten inquiry, Meyer said: "There is no video issue here."

Narduzzi indicated that MSU complained to the Big Ten, but MSU associate athletics director John Lewandowski said MSU athletics director Mark Hollis and Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith settled the issue between them, with no Big Ten involvement.
No cover-up here.  You didn't see anything.  The penguins (and the buckeyes) are psychotic.  Or Gene Smith made them an offer they couldn't refuse.

Seriously, is this kind of nonsense really necessary?  This is reminiscent of the Pitt Tape Gate episode where Walt Harris refused to give PSU game tapes back in 1997.  I mean someone had to take the time to edit those tapes before they sent them.  This was a deliberate act--the tapes didn't edit themselves--not an accident.  Would it have made any difference in the outcome?  Who knows?!  It's just kind of sad if this is the kind of sophomoric behavior that Meyer has to stoop to to win games.

But at least he didn't descend on State College to recruit players away from O'Brien!