Saturday, December 7, 2013

URBAN MEYER GOES DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 
SPARTANS WIN 34-24!
 
BEST NIGHT OF THE SEASON!
 
THANK YOU MSU!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Is That Even Possible?

Surfing the Internet and reading about Penn State's upset win over the Badgers, I came across this post on Black Shoe Diaries . . .
In fact, the last time an unranked Penn State squad beat a top 20 squad on the road was....wait for it....November 21st, 1987: Penn State 21, #7 Notre Dame 20.  And that PSU squad, one year removed from a National Championship, had been ranked #15 the previous week when they were shutout, 0-10, against an un-ranked Pitt to fall all the way out of the polls. Whoops - that game was at Beaver Stadium, and there was ice in the urinal troughs.  Upon further review, the last time an unranked PSU squad beat a top 20 team on the road was November 7th, 1964.  Penn State, led by Maxwell Award winner Glenn Ressler, traveled to Ohio Stadium and kicked the snot out of Woody Hayes and the Buckeyes, who had been ranked #2 in the nation, 27-0. 
That was 26 49 years ago. None of the current players 99% of innernets users had not been born.  This type of thing simply doesn't happen very often.  Since the 1986 season, Penn State had won just 12 games out of 44 when facing any ranked team on the road, no matter PSU's rank.  Today they're 13 for 45.
 
And in case you are wondering, that game in 1964 was coached by RIP ENGLE.  Not a single unranked team in the Joe Paterno Era upset a ranked opponent on the road.  Obviously, some ranked PSU teams won on the road such as the 1987 Fiesta Bowl when #2 PSU defeated #1 Miami.  Of course, that was a bowl game with a "neutral" field as opposed to playing at an opponent's stadium, but you get the idea.  48-14?  Beat #1 Pitt on the road, but we were ranked #11.  Ranked PSU teams could pull off the upset, but not unranked teams, at least not on the road.
 
Anyone have a game that disputes that?
 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Crock of B(C)S

 
GO SPARTANS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Kicking Their Dairy Air

I wish I had


TWEET!

Sorry, false start.  Again.

I really wish I had written a pregame summary this week, predicting a win for Penn State based on a complicated formula of controlling the line of scrimmage, not turning the ball over, controlling time of possession and committing eight false starts.  I would have looked like a freaking genius.  Now, I just look like a freak.  Such is life.

In their final game of the season, the team that just wouldn't quit wouldn't quit one last time, beating Wisconsin 31-24.  They were over matched and under scholarshipped.  The bettors were predicting a 24 point margin of victory for the Badgers.  Penn State had already lost to Indiana for crying out loud.

Simply put, Penn State should not have been in this game.

Instead, it was the Badgers who played like they shouldn't have been in this game.  With a combination of poor throws by Stave (apparently pronounced Stavie--does that mean that the Packers were quarterbacked by Bret Favrie?), interceptions by Penn State, and big plays on offense (4 plays over 50 yards!) the Lions ended the season for the second straight year with a win over a ranked Wisconsin squad.  Okay, they weren't ranked last year, but they were headed for the Big Championship and ultimately the Rose Bowl.  These were two quality season-ending wins dammit!

I thought last year that we benefitted from circumstance--Wisconsin had the title game already locked win or lose and didn't want to risk any injuries.  But that was not the case this year.  They weren't looking ahead to any championship game, and in fact, they were playing for a better bowl--perhaps a BCS game.  They had everything to gain by beating Penn State.

Wisconsin seemed out of whack, especially on defense.  Perhaps their shifting of players in and out was supposed to confuse Hackenberg, but in the end, it was the Badger defense that seemed confused. 

But like so many other games this season, the Lions were unable to put the chokehold on their opponent when they had the opportunity.  They actually led by three scores 31-14 in the fourth quarter, but had to survive a Hail Mary pass with one second left to avoid a loss or OT.  Ficken missed a field goal that could have sealed the game, and had one blocked.  With time running out, O'Brien called a time out with FIVE seconds still on the clock.  Although Keiser intercepted Stave in the endzone to essentially end the game, there was still one second left on the clock that should not have been there.  Better clock management, and that final play wouldn't have happened at all.

But that's being a little picky for a team that defied all odds to go 7-5 and quite frankly we should be thankful this Thanksgiving that we still have a football program at all. 

I simply cannot find the words to describe how happy I am with the win.  I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as Zwinak broke free for 61 yards.  These guys have played their hearts out all year and were so close to having a 10-2 season (but also close to a 4-8 one as well.)  But to come out in this final game in a hostile environment with nothing to play for than pride and put on that kind of performance is simply amazing.  Kudos to the coaches for keeping these guys motivated and focused!   The energy level was amazing!

Hackenberg finishes the season with 2,900+ passing yards, 20 TDs and 10 INTs.  The long ball looked good today.  With more scholarships on the horizon, the future looks bright.  I hope Allan Robinson sticks around for another year.

BY THE NUMBERS:

From GoPSUsports:


PSUWIS
FIRST DOWNS...................1327
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............28-12630-120
PASSING YDS (NET).............339339
Passes Att-Comp-Int...........30-21-055-29-3
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....58-46585-459
Fumble Returns-Yards..........0-00-0
Punt Returns-Yards............2-91--2
Kickoff Returns-Yards.........5-736-78
Interception Returns-Yards....3-660-0
Punts (Number-Avg)............5-30.65-47.8
Fumbles-Lost..................1-00-0
Penalties-Yards...............9-454-35
Possession Time...............29:1330:47
Third-Down Conversions........5 of 138 of 17
Fourth-Down Conversions.......0 of 02 of 3
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......3-53-3
Sacks By: Number-Yards........3-180-0

Penn State outgained the Badgers by a small amount in total yards, but the Badgers had a slight edge in time of possession.  A closer look at the total yardage, though, shows that PSU gained about 8 yards per play while the Badgers averaged 5.4 yards per play.

INTANGIBLES:


The attendance at Camp-Randall was 78,064.

Bill O'Brien has not lost to Wisconsin.  The Badgers lead the series 9-8.


B1G PICTURE:

The Suckeyes "beat" THEM 42-41 as Hoke chose to go for two but came up short.  I like his call to go for it.  I don't like the play he called.  It is what it is.

Nebraska looked like crap (how did we lose to them?) against Iowa, falling 38-17.

Sparty struggled offensively, but nearly blanked the gophers, winning 14-3.

Northwestern finally won a conference game, beating Illinois 37-34.

Indiana beat Purdue 56-36. 

Future members:  Maryland beat NC State 41-21 while Rutgers lost to UConn 28-17.

Michigan State will face the Buckeyes for the conference title.  Pray that MSU carries the day.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  Alabama--lost to Auburn on the final play of the game as the Tigers ran back a missed field goal--yes, you read that correctly--to break the tie and probably send Urban F-in Meyer to the title game.

2.  For Brady Hoke--big balls, but a little bat.

3.  For Duke--the good news--you won your division. The bad--now you have to face F$U.

4.  Oregon State--one point short of Oregon in the Civil War.

5.  Georgia Tech--lost to Georgia in 2OT

LOOKING AHEAD:

The Blue-White Game in April.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

May I Have This Dance?

What day is it?

Come on Mike, I know you can hear me!

A little Hump Day Humor . . . from the Florida Gators, who lost to Georgia Southern this past weekend.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Déjà VA All Over Again

Last season, Sam Ficken missed a PAT and FOUR field goals, as a floundering Penn State team in Bill O'Brien's second game as PSU head coach fell 17-16 to the Virginia Cavaliers.  But Sam Ficken rebounded from that effort, set a Penn State record for consecutive field goals made, and won the Wisconsin game in OT last year with a successful kick.

But Saturday, against the Cornhuskers, it was déjà vu all over again--or déjà VA as the case would be.

Penn State scored first in a game which gave new meaning to a whiteout, as snow sprayed across the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field Beaver Stadium at times yesterday.  I don't know if that was the coldest game I have ever sat through, but it is certainly in the top 2 or 3 if not the coldest.  I don't know what the coldest game ever at Beaver Stadium was.  I guess you'd have to ask Lou Prato.

But the euphoria of a touchdown melted quickly, which was incredible in itself that anything could melt yesterday--did I mention it was COLD?--when Ficken dinked the extra point off the right upright leaving the scoreboard showing a 6-0 advantage.

Some fans are quick to point out that that miss "cost us the game" as it seems painfully obvious that a 21-20 score would not have gone to OT.  Au contraire.  I am just full of the French-y references today. That little bit of rocket science presumes or assumes that Nebraska would have kicked said field goal down 21-17 with a fourth and goal at the PSU one yard line.  They might have just punched the ball in for a 24-21 victory and no OT to miss another field goal.  Or they might have got a PI and a new set of downs.  Perhaps they would have still taken the three with the hope of getting the ball back, but WE DON'T KNOW THAT.  Mark Twain wrote, "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

I ain't sure we win that game if Ficken makes the PAT.  I ain't sure we win if Ficken made the FG in OT.  Our chances certainly would have been better--but not guaranteed.  Likewise, our chances would have been better if Hack had simply RUN for the freaking first down instead of throwing a low uncatchable ball on third down.  Maybe the outcome would have been different if he hadn't thrown another rackin, frackin, hackin, berging INT when we just moved the ball from the shadows of our goal out to midfield and seemed rolling for a score.

It is what it is.  That's my new philosophy of Penn State football.

It has become tedious each week to dissect the mistakes and try to lay blame for each loss on some entity.  As I mentioned in the past, Penn State fans are spoiled from the glory years of the 70's and the 80's.  Back then we EXPECTED to win every game.  And when we failed, there must be some reason--the weather, the refs, the coaching (esp. over-used in the 2000's), the 85 scholarship limit (now the 65 scholarship limit), the phase of the moon, the turf, the lack of sideline heaters, the B1G conference (who in some way must be responsible for all this), etc. ad nauseum.

In the final analysis, it is what it is.

We are simply not a very good team.  And that conclusion is supported by the facts of the season, and not derived from any reading of tea leaves.  Good teams don't lose games like that. Or to Indiana.  We can sugar coat how much better Indiana is now than they used to be, but the Hoosiers have lost to the better competition in this conference, but BEAT US badly.

It wasn't Sam Ficken that lost the game yesterday.  It was Sam Ficken and Christian Hackenberg and Allan Robinson (who dropped a catchable pass by the way) and Bill O'Brien and all his coordinators, and the guy who fills the Gatorade bottles.  It was a team effort.  And it is not for lack of trying or a lack of heart--I have seen Penn State teams in the last 15 years give up.  This team doesn't give up.  They just don't have what it takes right now to be competitive week in and week out.

Nebraska made one fewer mistake than Penn State.  We were on the other side of that equation against THEM.  Thank God we had some bright moments to celebrate this season.  We could be wallowing around at 3-8 like 2004.

I want to thank our seniors for an exciting game on a cold Senior Day.  I really hoped to extol about how O'Brien was undefeated in OT games and make some snarky analysis that he should treat the other four quarters like OT.  I really wanted to tell some corn jokes and make fun of Nebraska, but well, they're stuck out there and I guess that's punishment enough.


It is what it is.

BY THE NUMBERS:

From GoPSUsports:
NEBPSU
FIRST DOWNS...................1918
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............41-16844-170
PASSING YDS (NET).............192217
Passes Att-Comp-Int...........36-21-033-16-1
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....77-36077-387
Fumble Returns-Yards..........0-00-0
Punt Returns-Yards............3-03-27
Kickoff Returns-Yards.........4-1432-37
Interception Returns-Yards....1-00-0
Punts (Number-Avg)............9-45.711-35.5
Fumbles-Lost..................4-23-0
Penalties-Yards...............7-543-25
Possession Time...............29:1630:44
Third-Down Conversions........3 of 172 of 14
Fourth-Down Conversions.......0 of 00 of 0
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......2-32-3
Sacks By: Number-Yards........1-12-22

Penn State gained more yards, both rushing and passing, than Nebraska, forced three fumbles and recovered two of them, won time of possession by a small margin, yet lost the game.  Our defense held the Huskers to 3 of 17 third down conversions, but our offense only managed 2 of 15 conversions.  It is what it is.

INTANGIBLES:
I went to Happy Valley and they stole my head!
How am I going to eat this huge ear of corn?


Did I mention the game was cold?

The 98,517 listed attendance definitely included people there in spirit as well.  It was a disappointing crowd, but can you blame them?  Did I mention it was COLD?

The Drum Major stuck both flips.  He was lucky his arse didn't freeze to the turf!

Penn State won the first coin toss and deferred.  Nebraska won the one that mattered and went on defense to start OT.

Nebraska now lead the series 9-7.  I don't give a rackin, frackin, hackin, berging twit about vacated wins, as you probably already know.

By the way, it was COLD.

THE B1G PICTURE:

Buckeyes rolled all over the Hoosiers like a good team should, winning 42-14.

Iowa defeated THEM 24-21.

MSU pounded the Cats 30-6.

Wisconsin rolled out the barrel and buried the Gophers 20-7.

Illinois finally won a game.  Purdue hasn't.  The final was 20-16, so I guess neither team really wanted the win that badly.

Michigan State and Ohio State have clinched their berth in the title game, with the Buckeyes having one more meaningless game against THEM, and Sparty facing the Gophers next week.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  Idaho--lost 80-14 to F$U.
2.  Baylor--lost to Okie State 49-17.  No BCS Title for YOU!
3.  Oregon--lost to Arizona 42-16.  Wow.  That's just Quacked.
4.  Florida--lost to Georgia . . . wait for it . . . Southern.  Ga Southern won 26-20.
5.  Arkansas lost again.  Woo Hoo!  Bret's da Man.  For the all you can eat smorgasbord that is.
6.  Johnny Feetsball lost to LSU.  Price for his autograph fell as well.

LOOKING AHEAD:

One game left.  The Lions travel to Wisconsin to face a team that would be tough to beat with 85 scholarship players.  The Badgers are 9-2 with losses to Arizona State and the unbeatable Buckeyes.

We're going to lose.  It is what it is.  I feel like a Temple fan.

By Thursday, I'll have come up with a few insane reasons why we could and might win this game, but I'll just be full of my usual bullshit and a lot of turkey by that point.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving Nittany Nation!

And thank you to Charles Shultz--a comic genius that somehow knew Penn State football!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Weekly Game Guide: Farmer's University Edition

It's Thursday night and the Golden Knights are beating the Scarlet Knights 38-14 early in the fourth quarter.

This weekend, Penn State hosts Nebraska . . . .

They are Farmers, bum ba dum bum bum bum bum!

This appears to be a game that could go either way for either team.  Penn State opened a two-point favorite and is sitting around 1.5 points as I type this.  Nebraska's offense is ranked 45th in the country and fields a defense ranked 42nd.  How's that for balance?  On our side of the ball, the Lions are ranked 50th offensively, and a surprising 46th nationally in defense.

The intangibles, though, lean toward Penn State . . . home game, senior day.  I think if PSU can get the running game going and minimize the mistakes (is it even possible to play a game without a fumble anymore?) they can and will win this game.  But if the defense is on the field a lot, and we make mistakes that give the Huskers field position or cost us points, senior day may not be so happy in Happy Valley.

My prediction:  Penn State wins by a touchdown.  Unless the refs review it.

IN THE B1G TEN:

Ohio State is a 34.5 point favorite over Indiana.  Can the Hoosiers make some magic?  I really doubt it, but we can dream can't we?

Illinois faces off as a favorite over Purdue, neither of which has won a conference game yet.  That will change this weekend.  Personally, I'd like to see Purdue get the W, but my Gawd they look awful.  I don't think they could beat an egg, in a bowl, with a mixer.  Of course, there's no chance of that happening--they won't be in any bowl this year.

The Spartans travel to Evanston to face a Northwestern team that also has not won a conference match-up yet.  MSU is favored by 7.  Barring a breakdown on the green and white side of the ball, I don't think that will change this week.  GO SPARTY!

Wisconsin is a 16.5 point favorite over Minnesota.  Really don't care who wins this one.  We've already mucked up the Minnesota game, and have a theoretical chance of beating the Badgers, so GO GOPHERS!  (I have a theoretical chance of winning the lottery, so keep that in perspective.)

Iowa is a 6 point favorite over THEM.  I'm okay with that.  GO HAWKEYES!

Future members:  Rutgers is losing to UCF tonight, and Maryland is a pick against Boston College.  GO TERPS!

IN OTHER GAMES:

Alabama plays Chattanooga (no line).  ROLL TIDE ROLL!

F$U is heavily favored (57 points) over Idaho. 

Baylor is favored by 9.5 over Oklahoma State and hopes to jump O$U in the BCS bonanza.  The Buckeyes could beat Indiana by 1,000 and the BCS won't care.  Sucks to be them.

Notre Dame and BYU are a pick.  GO COUGARS!

And that's a wrap!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

McGloin Wins First NFL Start

Matt McGloin won his first official NFL start, guiding the Raiders to a 28-23 win over the Texans.  Matt was 18 of 32 for 197 yards, 3 TDs and NO INTs.



CONGRATULATIONS MATT!

We're McLovin' it!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

POOR-DUE

Purdue had something to prove.  They needed to prove they weren't the worst team in the Big Ten.  They needed to prove that they could beat PSU.  But Pur-do pur-didn't.

In what was a surprisingly beautiful November day in Central PA, the Nittany Lions joined eight other teams in defeating the Boilermakers in 2013.  Only Indiana State was unable to pull off the win.  They must have missed the memo.

On the ground, Purdue amassed a whopping 41 yards rushing.  The Penn State offense, famous for being third-down-conversion-challenged, came up with conversions on 10-12 third downs.  What was that?  Ten of twelve.  Say it again.  Ten of twelve!

The Nittany Lions logged 501 yards and NEVER punted the ball, en route to beating Purdue 45-21, which also covered the point spread.  Say what?  They covered the point spread!  No!  Yes!  They did.  Damn!

Am I excited about this win?  You better bill-ieve it.  It's not quite the same as beating Temple (1-9), Western Michigan (1-10) or Southern Miss (0-10) but it still felt pretty good.  This is the school that graduated athletes like Drew Brees and Bob Griese for crying out loud.  This was a big win.

All kidding aside, this was a much needed win for this team.  Penn State is assured of not having a losing season, with 6-6 being the worst scenario at this time.  Penn State rebounded from a head scratching loss to the Gophers a week ago, and will head into a game against the Huskers on a positive note.

That is not to say that there isn't room for improvement.  A fake punt, a kick-off returned for a touchdown, and a touchdown saving tackle on another by Ficken means some extra work on special teams this week.  Purdue still made some yards through the air, and probably should have had more if their quarterback had been able to hit a few wide open receivers better.  Belton fumbled and Hackenberg was picked on an absolutely awful throw.

But at the end of the day, the score looked respectable, the win is in the books, and we didn't have to go to overtime to ring the victory bell.

BY THE NUMBERS:

From GoPSUsports:

PURPSU
FIRST DOWNS...................1431
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............20-4158-289
PASSING YDS (NET).............223212
Passes Att-Comp-Int...........33-21-123-16-1
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....53-26481-501
Fumble Returns-Yards..........0-00-0
Punt Returns-Yards............0-02-11
Kickoff Returns-Yards.........7-2053-52
Interception Returns-Yards....1-01-22
Punts (Number-Avg)............3-45.00-0.0
Fumbles-Lost..................4-21-1
Penalties-Yards...............5-612-15
Possession Time...............23:3136:29
Third-Down Conversions........4 of 1110 of 12
Fourth-Down Conversions.......1 of 20 of 0
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......2-27-7
Sacks By: Number-Yards........0-06-42

Is this the first game we did not have a fourth down attempt?  While it's tough to get excited about beating a bad opponent, the stats confirm that Penn State dominated a bad opponent.

INTANGIBLES:
Vintage Purdue Pete
What IS that on his head?

The Drum Major stuck both flips.

Purdue won the toss and deferred.

Attendance was listed at 96,491, and while it may not have reflected actual bodies in the seats, the crowd was larger than I expected it to be after last weeks loss.

The Nittany Lions lead the all-time series 13-3-1.

THE B1G PICTURE:

The Buckeyes took care of business, defeating Illinois 60-35 and now are sitting at home rooting for Mississippi State.  (post-posting update . . . The Bulldogs fell to Bama as expected, and Baylor jumped the Bucks in the AP Poll.  Still waiting for the BCS ranking, but the furthest away from #2 they are, the better!)

Northwestern tried to notch its first conference win against THEM, but lost in triple OT.

The Spartans husked Nebraska 41-28.

Wisconsin pounded and pummeled Indiana into submission, 51-3.

Future member Maryland upset Va Tech 27-24.  Did I call that one or not?  Rutgers, though, fell to Cincinnati 52-17.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  Temple--4 points short of upsetting UCF.
2.  Miami--beaten by . . . wait for it . . . DUKE.  And we're not talking basketball here!
3.  ACC Coastal Conference--led by DUKE!  In football!  Boo yah!
4.  Syracuse--squeezed 59-3 by the Noles.
5.  Texas--poked by Okie State 38-13.
6.  Georgia--burned by Auburn 43-38.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Bring on the Cornhuskers!

Senior Day at Beaver Stadium next Saturday.  Time TBA.

Nebraska is 7-3, 4-2 in the Big Ten.

W  Wyoming 37-34
W  So. Miss  56-13
L  UCLA  21-41
W  S. Dakota St.  59-20
W  Illinois  39-19
W  Purdue  44-7
L  Minnesota  23-34
W Northwestern  27-24
W  THEM  17-13
L  Michigan State 41-28

So in common opponents, both PSU and Nebraska lost to Minnesota, but beat THEM and Illinois.  They are certainly beatable.  But can we put together (hopefully) 4 quarters of solid football?  I think we can.

GO STATE!  BEAT HUSKERS!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Weekly Game Guide: Train Wreck Edition

It's Thursday night and time for ACC football on ESPN.  Clemson is ahead of the Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech 27-10 at the half.

Speaking of wrecks . . .



What has happened to Purdue?

Penn State, with a struggling offense and a defensive backfield that has been likened to four drunks chasing an empty donut bag blowing down the street, is a 21.5 point favorite.  Wow!  I'm not surprised we're favored.  But 21.5?  Have they seen our offense lately?

Sadly, the spread probably reflects more on just how bad Purdue is.

While I have said many times there are no MUST WIN games on our schedule, given the circumstances, this is a MUST WIN.  You simply cannot lose to a team like Purdue and look in the mirror at yourself the next morning.  A loss for any reason is simply unacceptable.  This would be worse than losing to Toledo--that Toledo team won 10 games and went to a bowl.  This Purdue team is going nowhere--and fast.  With games left against Illinois and Indiana, it is unlikely Purdue will win another game this year, although Illinois at home might be their best chance.
If we don't beat Penn State, I swear I'm going to jump!

In other Big Ten games:

Wisconsin is a 22 point favorite over Indiana.  Let's see--mediocre Hoosier defense against pretty good Badger defense means points for da badgers.  I don't have a favorite in this game.  We'll go with Wisconsin, but for no real good reason at all.

Ohio State is favored by 7,000 over Illinois.  Actually, it's about 32 points, but it really doesn't matter, now, does it?  Unless the Buckeyes lose their starting three quarterbacks, two linebackers and their coach, this game won't be close.  But I can't bring myself to root for O$U.  I don't want to root for Illinois.  Guess I won't be watching this game this weekend.

Northwestern is favored over THEM by 2.5 points.  I think Northwestern has suffered enough, and THEM can never suffer too much, so GO WILDCATS!

Michigan State is favored by 6.5 over Nebraska.  Since they are probably the only team that can beat O$U, I gotta go with Sparty on this one.  GO SPARTANS!

Minnesota and Iowa are off.

Maryland is a 15 point underdog to Va Tech.  They manage to beat Miami, so now they must be undefeatable.  Pffhhht!  GO TERPS!

Rutgers is a one point dog to Cincy.  GO KNIGHTS!

In other games of passing (or running) interest:

F$U is favored by 39 over Syracuse.  GO NOLES!   (Must.  Keep.  Buckeyes. Out. Of.  Title. Game.)

Alabama is a 25.5 point favorite over Mississippi State.  ROLL TIDE ROLL (see above.)

Baylor is a 27 point favorite over Texas Tech.  GO BEARS!

Stanford is a 3.5 point favorite over USC.  GO TREE!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Minnesota Drats

Because of a camping trip, I was unable to watch the game on TV.  I did listen to most of it, but I finally gave up when we fumbled yet again at the goal line.  There was still some time left on the clock, and part of me wanted to listen to another great comeback win.  I knew that scenario was unlikely, but no more implausible than a 4 OT victory over THEM or a come from behind OT win against the Illini.  I knew it was possible, but decided I'd rather read about the comeback on Sunday and not have my Saturday afternoon ruined any further.



I got home today to discover that not only was there no comeback win, Penn State never got the ball back with over six minutes left to go in the game.

Drat and double drat!

Not a point was scored in the second half.  If your cup is half full, the defense did their job in a manner of speaking.  If your cup is half empty, our offense really sucks.

Ten points.

Not counting OT points, just points in regulation, Penn State is averaging just under 20 points per game since starting Big Ten play.  Worse yet, we are giving up 36 points per game in regulation.

Even in the dark year of 2004, we never gave up more than 21 points, and we beat Indiana.  Of course that team was coached by a legend without sanctions.

This Minnesota loss was a doctoral thesis on how to miss golden opportunities.  The fumble on the goal line is a glaring example, but Minnesota fumbled giving Penn State a wonderful chance to get back in the game.  But even with a Minnesota defensive off-sides call, Penn State could not even manage a first down, let alone a touchdown.

This is where the coaching could certainly be questioned.  It sounded on the radio like we had the running game cranked up.  Zwinak was running lights out and almost single-handedly scored the first Lion touchdown.  Yet, after the off-sides in what was clearly four down territory at the Minnesota 32-yard line with a second and five situation, PSU tried two passing plays resulting in an incompletion and a sack that then triggered a punt instead of a celebration or a fourth down attempt at the least.

I'm not a coach.  Never will be.  But what exactly goes through a coach's mind at that point in the game?  You've got a running back averaging 5.8 yards per tote and two downs (three if you count going for it on fourth) to let him get the first.  Are you trying to catch the other team selling out against the run?  Really?  I don't understand how we could let that opportunity slip away.

We cannot chalk fumbling at the goal line to a freshman quarterback mistake.  This is the NINTH game of the season.  He's practically a sophomore in football years.  There is simply no excuse for poor execution like that. 

Deep down, although we were underdogs in the game as it was, I think many fans thought--perhaps not aloud or in print--but thought we could and would win this game.  But reality is a real downer sometimes.  For myself, and probably a lot of fans over 40, we remember the times when we always expected Penn State to win.  In the 70's and 80's, we didn't win every game, but by God we started the game thinking we were going to win it.

We were spoiled.  And entering the Big Ten did not change things initially.  In fact, it might have been the Minnesota game in 1999 that really woke Penn State fans up.  We could no longer expect to win.  Each win was a thing to be treasured, and often times the result of a lot of hard work AND luck.

But I still cling to that past.  I still thought we would win this game.  In fact, I was hoping Hackenberg would break out with a big day that would boost his confidence (as well as the fans') going into the remainder of the schedule. 

It just wasn't meant to be.

BY THE NUMBERS:

From GoPSUsports:


PSUMINN
FIRST DOWNS...................2219
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............36-19046-195
PASSING YDS (NET).............163186
Passes Att-Comp-Int...........25-14-025-15-0
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....61-35371-381
Fumble Returns-Yards..........0-00-0
Punt Returns-Yards............2-21-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards.........2-393-67
Interception Returns-Yards....0-00-0
Punts (Number-Avg)............3-36.34-46.0
Fumbles-Lost..................2-21-1
Penalties-Yards...............1-105-45
Possession Time...............24:3235:28
Third-Down Conversions........1 of 99 of 17
Fourth-Down Conversions.......1 of 33 of 3
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......2-42-2
Sacks By: Number-Yards........1-71-5

One for nine on third down conversions?  Are you kidding me?  While our defense gave up 9 of 17 third down conversions and ALL THREE fourth down conversions to the Gophers?  A performance like that against O$U is perhaps understandable.  But against Minnesota?  I simply scratch my head.  Because of these ratios, the Gophers controlled time of possession, and of course, the scoreboard.  A fumble to start the game, and then one on the goal line late were simply crushing.

INTANGIBLES:


Minnesota won the toss and deferred.  But PSU fumbled on the first play, so Minnesota essentially opened each half with a drive.

Stadium attendance was 48,123.  I guess ice-fishing season hasn't started yet.

THE B1G PICTURE:

Nebraska defeated THEM 17-13 in Ann Arbor.  And I thought we had a chance against the Huskers.  Maybe I'm still in a funk from this game, but what the hell!  Can we win any of our remaining games?

Oh, there's Purdue.  They lost 38-14 to Iowa.

Indiana beat Illinois 52-35.

The Badgers beat BYU 27-17 in a rare out of conference game this time of year.

O$U, Michigan State and Northwestern were off.

The Buckeyes took advantage of Oregon's loss to move up to #3.  Curses!  The BCS ranks weren't available at this time.

SHEDDING TEARS:


1.  Notre Dame--boo hoo.  Beaten by Pitt 28-21.
2.  LSU--boo hoo hoo.  Beaten by Bama 38-17.
3.  WVU--lost to Texas 47-40.  Oh, you were so close!
4.  Oregon--thanks for playing again, Ducks.   We have a nice consolation bowl lined up for you.
5.  Arkansas lost again.  Way to go Bret!

LOOKING AHEAD:

So far, our season has gone WWLWLWLWL.  The pattern should end WLL (open with two wins, alternate for a while, then end with two losses to balance the opening wins.)  Sure hope it doesn't end up that way, but, it sure is looking that way.

Purdue comes to Beaver Stadium next week with their only win of the season against Indiana State.  Most of their games haven't even been close:

L Cincinnati 7-42
W Indiana State 20-14
L  Notre Dame 24-31
L  Wisconsin 10-41
L Northern Illinois  24-55
L  Nebraska  7-44
L  Michigan State  0-14
L  Ohio State  0-56
L  Iowa  14-38

There are no must wins.  There is nothing to play for.  Pride went out the window with a loss to Indiana and a blow-out to the Buckeyes. 

I just hope we keep things together and win this damn game.  It might be the last win of the year.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Weekly Game Guide: Better Late Than Never Edition

Hopefully Penn State will take the field on Saturday faster than this post hit the web.

Last night, Baylor pounded Oklahoma 41-12, hoping to leap frog Ohio State in the BCS Bonanza.  Meanwhile, Buckeye fans were celebrating Stanford's 26-20 win over Oregon.  If a tree falls on a duck in the forest, does it make a sound?  Maybe Baylor AND Stanford leave O$U in the dust?

The line with the Gophers opened around 2-2.5 points, and is currently 1.5 points this morning.  Penn State has not played well on the road, with somewhat embarrassing losses to Indiana and Ohio State.  It is clichéd, but the Lions must control the line of scrimmage, hold the Gophers on the ground, limit their mistakes, and come up with a few big plays.  It's a formula that will win a lot of games, but you still have to execute it.  We fumbled on the goal line last week and still won--but you can't depend on that kind of tenacity to win games on the road.

On to the Big Ten . . .

Nebraska is a 7 point underdog to THEM in Ann Arbor.   GO HUSKERS!

Wisconsin is favored by 7.5 points over BYU.  ON WISCONSIN!

The Hoosiers are favored (will wonders never cease?) by 9 points over the hapless Illini.  GO HOOSIERS!

The Hawks are favored by 15 points over Purdue.  Sooner or later, Purdue is going to win a B1G game.  It could be this year.  Maybe 2020.  Who knows?  I'd rather it not be against us, so let's hope the little Boilermakers are Spoilermakers this weekend and upset the Hawks.  GO PURDUE!

Ohio State is off this week, which will likely hurt them in the BCS rankings.  As suggested above, both Stanford and Baylor may pass them up due to performances over top 10 teams this week.  Northwestern and Michigan State are also off this weekend.

In games around the country:

F$U is heavily favored over Wake Forest and looks to move up in the wake of the Ducks loss.  GO NOLES!

Bama is favored by, let me check that--double digits!--by 12.5 over LSU.  ROLL TIDE ROLL!

Notre Dame is favored by 4.5 over the Panthers.  I don't normally root for Pitt, but this is the Irish we're talking about here.  GO PITT!

Future B1G team Maryland is favored by 5 over Syracuse.  GO TERPS!

GO STATE!  WHACK GOPHERS!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Keiser Rolls!

It was a single dramatic play, fittingly defensive, that carried the cold, overcast day for Penn State, as they defeated Illinois 24-17 in OT.  Having scored a touchdown on their own possession in the OT period, the Lion defense rose up to the occasion on Illinois' first play with an INT of Scheelhasse by Ryan Keiser, who grabbed the tip, and rolled to the ground securing both the ball and victory.



It was a strange game to say the least.  The over/under was somewhere around 55 points, but only 34 were scored in regulation by these two defensively-challenged offensive juggernauts.  The guy next to me complained all game long about the lack of Penn State defense.  And there sure seemed to be a lot of wide open receivers (although not nearly as many as there were last week!)  Yet, at the end of four quarters, the Illini had but 17 points to show for all of Penn State's defensive ineptitude.

Seven points came off the board for Illinois thanks to a chop block penalty, and Penn State had a rushing TD called back for holding in the OT before Hackenberg threaded a bullet to Kyle Carter.  Ficken also missed a 37-yarder in the second quarter that almost came back to haunt us just days after Halloween.

What I'm trying to say, is that it seemed like Illinois had scored a lot of points, but instead, they just put up a lot of meaningless numbers.  But when you look at the numbers, they were not that impressive.  Penn State outgained the Illini 250 to 90 yards on the ground, and 490 total yards to 411 for Illinois.  Penn State won time of possession, and despite a fumble on the goal line, we won the turn-over battle with two key INTs.  The first stopped a promising Illinois drive and led to 7 PSU points, and the second ended the game in OT.

And so I scratch my head in disbelief.  Surely our defense played worse than that.  It certainly seemed like we had a hard time stopping Illinois.  Yet, we won.  Hackenberg seemed to be throwing the ball at the ground of open receivers, yet we won.  We fumbled on the one-yard line,  Yet, we won.  We seemed to do everything wrong . . . yet we didn't.

WE WON!



And though we didn't cover the 10 point spread, this was a much needed victory.  It wasn't as exciting or as important as the 4 OT thriller two weeks ago, but it was a pleasant alternative to the debacle we witnessed last week.  The effort of this staff and these players should not be underestimated or underappreciated.  It would have been all too easy to give up after last week.  After all, there's no Big Ten title to play for.  No bowl game.  And with Minnesota knocking off Indiana, Northwestern and Nebraska, things don't get any easier next week. 

And as much maligned as the defense was after last week, it was fitting that the defense secured the victory this week.

BY THE NUMBERS:

From the GoPSUsports site:


  
 ILLPSU
FIRST DOWNS...................2725
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............24-9048-250
PASSING YDS (NET).............321240
Passes Att-Comp-Int...........52-33-232-20-0
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....76-41180-490
Fumble Returns-Yards..........0-00-0
Punt Returns-Yards............0-00-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards.........2-371-27
Interception Returns-Yards....0-02-1
Punts (Number-Avg)............4-35.03-34.3
Fumbles-Lost..................0-01-1
Penalties-Yards...............9-7111-95
Possession Time...............25:0834:52
Third-Down Conversions........8 of 138 of 18
Fourth-Down Conversions.......0 of 12 of 3
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......3-53-6
Sacks By: Number-Yards........1-41-11

Holding Illinois to under 100 yards rushing and 17 points (when they were averaging 31 points per game on the season) are the key stats here.  Penn State also took control with our own ground game--Beltin' Bill Belton is turning into quite the work horse.  The fumble was concerning, but didn't change the outcome of the game fortunately.

INTANGIBLES:

The Drum Major over-rotated his first flip but didn't fall.  The Russian judge deducted two tenths of a point, though.  He stuck the second in the South end zone.

Penn State won the toss and deferred.  Illinois won the toss in the OT.

The attendance is listed at 95,131 and is probably generous.  This is the first game the students really didn't fill their seats.  Maybe it's because of mid-terms and everyone was studying.

The overall excitement level was as depressing as the weather.  The wave failed.  The crowd was into it at the end when it counted, but largely it was a blah day.  No Sweet Caroline.  Zombie nation only played before the team came out of the tunnel.  Just a strange lack of enthusiasm and energy.  I'm still going to blame the weather.

Penn State is 17-4 in the overall series against Illinois.

THE B1G PICTURE:

The Suckeyes rolled all over Purdue 56-0.  The Boilermakers are just lucky there are no plays in football that can result in negative points, or they would have been less than zero on the day.

Big Brother beat Little Brother as the Spartans defeated THEM 29-6 to remain unbeaten in the Legends division.

Wisconsin bested Iowa 28-9 to remain one game behind O$U.

Northwestern remains winless in the conference after falling on a Hail Mary pass in Lincoln as time expired.  Final Score: 27-24.  Big Red is one game back of the Spartans.

Minnesota beat Indiana 42-39.

Illinois, Purdue and Northwestern are all winless in the conference.

Future Big Ten member Rutgers eked out a win over Temple 23-20.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  Navy--too many ghosts to over come in South Bend
2.  Miami--too much tomahawk chop
3.  UMass--BCS'd by Northern Illinois 63-19.  Style points to break the BCS party?
4.  Pitt--run over by the Ramblin' Wreck of Georgia Tech

LOOKING AHEAD:

Penn State travels to Minnesota to take on the gophers next week in another nooner.

Minnesota's season looks like this:

W  51-23  UNLV
W  44-21  New Mexico State
W  29-12  Western Illinois
W  43-24  San Jose State
L   7-23    Iowa
L   13-42  THEM
W  20-17  Northwestern
W  34-23  Nebraska
W  42-39  Indiana

So in the two common opponents, they beat Indiana, whom we lost to, while they lost to THEM, whom we beat.  Two of our three losses have been on the road. 

As I drove home from the game today, one of the post game radio hosts had this perspective . . . Penn State fans have to resign themselves to the fact that this team could beat any of their remaining opponents, but could just as easily to lose to all of them.  We may be a few plays away from being 7-1, but we are also a couple plays away from being 3-5.  (I paraphrased a bit.) 

And so it is.  Maybe we beat Minnesota.  Maybe we don't.

The only advice I can give at this point:  Don't leave the game early.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Weekly Game Guide: Ill-annoyed Edition

It's Thursday night!  Do you know who's playing this weekend?

Penn State hosts the Illini at Beaver Stadium in a NOON kick-off.  Now I don't usually shamelessly copy borrow previous posts, but I can save myself a lot of time here.

After losing to Indiana, I typed thusly:
THEM is favored by 2 over the Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium.  Two weeks ago, I thought this was a pretty sure win.  We seemed to be improving each week.  Our defense seemed capable.  THEM was struggling to beat the likes of Akron and UConn.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to that sure thing.  We played one of our worst games top to bottom of the Bill O'Brien era.  Nothing seemed to go right in Bloomingdale.


With a few minor changes . . . .voilà!

Penn State is favored by 10 points over Illinois at Beaver Stadium.  Two weeks ago, I thought this was a pretty sure win.  We seemed to be improving each week.  Our defense seemed capable.  Illinois was struggling to win it's first Big Ten game.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to that sure thing.  We played one of our worst games top to bottom of the Bill O'Brien era.  Nothing seemed to go right in Columbus.

It's like Groundhog Day all over again.  Okay campers, rise and shine, and don't forget your booties cause it's cooooold out there this Saturday. It's coooold out there every day.  What if there is no tomorrow?  There wasn't one today!

I don't know what to expect from this team on Saturday, but I am praying that we see some leadership--on offense.  On defense.  On the sidelines.  Looking at the pattern, this should be a winning week. 
"Whatever you do, don't play for a field goal!"

We are far from a must win, but another loss, to a team that we should clearly beat, will be hard to sell to fans and recruits. 

We want execution, not excuses.

And in an interesting tidbit of news, Illini QB Nathan Scheelhaase's father has been banned from the Illinois campus for one year, following an incident during the Illini loss to MSU.

IN THE B1G TEN:

Wisconsin is favored by 9.5 over Iowa in Iowa City.  GO BADGERS!

MSU is favored by 5.5 over little brother THEM in East Lansing.  GO Spartans!

Ohio State is favored by a gazillion (or roughly 31.5) over Purdue.  Yea Boilers!  Fat Chance.

Indiana is favored over Minnesota by 9.5 points.  GO HOOSIERS!

Nebraska is favored by 7 over Northwestern.  NU has yet to win a Big ten game.  GO HUSKERS!

Maryland is off, but future Big Ten Team Rutgers is favored by 13.5 over Temple.

IN OTHER GAMES:

Notre Dame is favored by 17 over Navy.  GO MIDSHIPMEN!

Florida State is favored heavily over undefeated Miami.  Normally, I'd go with Miami here, and it's nice to see Golden have some success down there.  But a F$U loss means the Buckeyes move up---GO SEMINOLES!  GO SEMINOLES!   GO SEMINOLES!

Oregon and Alabama are thankfully off and can't lose.

Pitt is a 10 point do g to Georgia Tech and the Ted Roof defense.  GO TECH!

Florida and Georgia face off in Jacksonville.  Georgia is favored by 2.5.  Pick you own poison here.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Sermon: The Evil of Temptation

Welcome once again to the Irreverent Church of the Gridiron.

Whether you are a Missouri fan looking for solace and answers, or an Alabama fan giving thanks for the Blessings of Saban, all are welcome here at our little church in cyberspace.

Our bible study for this week includes these verses:

Miami 24:21 - And a hurricane shall blow through the Forest, leaving behind a Wake.

Duke 13:10 - And lo, the Hokie falls before the Blue Devils.  If there be a more overrated team in the land, only the Lord knows it.

Minnesota 34:23 - Make ye an ark of Gopher Wood.  Beat the husker of corn with gopher wood.  Gopher wood is good.

But today's sermon will focus on the age old sin of temptation.

Let's be honest.  We are all dogs humans.  We are all sinners.  So it be with the referee.  Anyone who thinks there is a totally unbiased referee out there probably also believes in fair trials, honest politicians and tooth fairies.

I am not suggesting that there is some heinous conspiracy here.  I'm not suggesting that O$U actually pays referees to "throw" games or flags.  I'm not even suggesting that the Big Ten does that either.

But if you don't think that each referee knows where his paycheck is coming, and that said employer benefits from a team like O$U winning each week, then I suggest you put your tooth under the pillow tonight and expect to pay your rent tomorrow with the results.

It's simple mathematics and money.  If O$U wins out, there is a chance they could be in the title game, which opens a spot in the BCS money pot for a SECOND conference team to get a SECOND payout.  If O$U goes down, so does the chance of TWO teams cashing out big paychecks in the BCS payday.  Again, if you don't think the referees "know this" (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), then you are either still in diapers or have been living under a rock.  By the way, you could save 15% on car insurance by switching to Geico.

Why are the referees employed by the conference they are policing?  Isn't there a conflict of interest there?

If the NCAA survives into the future as a viable organization, and that truth is open to a lot of debate, then it should take charge and eliminate, as much as possible given that we are dealing with humans, the temptation to throw a flag or not throw a flag.  After all, some of God's greatest gifts are unthrown flags.

The NCAA should "charge" member institutions for providing referees.   This charge would be approximately equivalent to what conferences as a whole are now paying, distributing across their membership. 

From this pool, the NCAA will provide referees to games.

If a referee is an alum of a given school, they should be excluded from games that involve that school, or games whose outcomes could impact that schools ranking.  Geographic considerations would be important.  A ref living in State College should never be calling games involving Big Ten teams.  It's that simple.

Moreover, a system of checks and balances should be implemented.  After each game, each coach gets a chance to rate each refs performance.  This rating will actually impact the refs paycheck--bad ratings earn less money than good ratings.  Refs can challenge a bad rating by a coach which could be reviewed by an independent board of former coaches and referees.  That way, there would be actual consequences for bad calls, encouraging refs to not only be impartial, but also to strive harder to actually be correct.  Coaches could also base their ratings on flags not thrown--ie complaining about holds that were not called, and these could be reviewed later for confirmation or not.  Referees who continually get low ratings would be replaced.  And to be fair, if a ref challenges a low rating and is exonerated by a review board, the coach/school that gave the low rating could be penalized, so as to prevent coaches from arbitrarily giving bad ratings to refs they "may not like," or as a knee jerk reflex to a bad loss.

Again, no system would be perfect.  Mistakes are made that have nothing to do with bias.  The ref has two eyes and can't see everything.  But the impact this has on the outcomes of important games, and the amounts of money riding on those games, begs for a better, more impartial system.

That's our view from the pulpit.

Go Forth and Spread the Word.  If you can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter!

Amen!

Awwww Nuts!

First of all, there is probably not another fan out there who wanted Penn State to win more than me.  I trained in Ohio for four years in the heart of Buckeye country (Akron--not Columbus, but no less overzealous or rabid) from 1991-1994--the start of our Big Ten association with the Buckeyes.  Our victory in 1994, ironically enough a 63-14 beat down of the Buckeyes was AFTER I had graduated in May and moved back to Pennsylvania and the comfort of Lion Country.  I used to write a blog for PennLive--I am the founder of the 50-Yard Lion Blog--but was fired unceremoniously from that position after a BUCKEYE FAN complained about a personal email exchange that he initiated.  At the time, that cost me $2400 per year.  If your story of Buckeye misery can beat that--leave it in the comment section.  Perhaps I'll reward the best "worst" story with tickets to a game sometime.

But the above emotion notwithstanding, I am curiously not as enraged as I normally would be.  I have been known to break things after losses.  (I broke our front door off the hinges slamming it after Lloyd Carr stole a win from us in 2005.)  I have not broken a TV . . . yet.  Give me time.  I rode a bus from hell from Ann Arbor after a 14-9 loss and I swear, with God as my witness, had I had a gun, there would have been some dead THEM fans that night, and I would be rotting in a jail cell in Ypsilanti or some other God-forsaken Michigan town.  Probably bankrupt Detroit.  But I digress.


We got our helmets handed to us by the fourth ranked team in the nation.  The Buckeye roster has more stars on it than some small galaxies.  There is no shame in playing your heart out, making mistakes, defying the odds and coming up short--no matter how short that might be.  Even SEVEN touchdowns short.  I really don't want to see the Buckeyes win a National Title, so we must pray that all three (just to be sure because you never know what those BCS computers will do!) of the teams ahead of them continue to win, so we won't have to suffer that.

This is not the first time we were not competitive against this team.  24-6 in 1993.  38-7 in 1996 (when we were ranked 4th and they were 3rd!)  28-9 in 1998.  45-6 in 2000.  28-6 in 2006.  37-17 in 2007.  24-7 in 2009.  38-14 in 2010.  35-23 in 2012.  Despite our 63-14 win in 2004, this series has been lopsided, and our wins have often been by a touchdown or less, while the losses have been ridiculous.  In the Big Ten Era, Ohio State has outscored Penn State 551 to 367 in 21 games.  Ohio State leads the series 14-7 over that span.  That breaks down to 17.5 points per game scored by Penn State, while OSU scores 26.2 per game.

Fans are focusing on the fact that Penn State has given up over 40 points the past three games.  And they have.  Tru dat. 

And so the Sunday Morning Quarterback club has determined that we need a new defensive coordinator.  Perhaps even O'Brien isn't right for the job.  Should he be his own offensive coordinator, or should there be a separate play caller?  The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!

Take a step back from the ledge.  Look around.  Think about this for a minute.  We lost to Lehigh 106-0 in 1889.  Joe Paterno (who?) went 5-5 in his first season.  Thank God we didn't panic then!  We used to have a three-headed monster calling plays based on whoever won the rock-paper-scissors game.  Our defense used to keep us in 6-4 losses!  There are some things I don't miss.

If you fire OB, who is going to take this job right now????  Bill O'Brien (with the help of people like Mike Mauti and company) likely SAVED this program.  No likely about it.  He saved this program with a capital S.  Without these coaches AND players who stayed and committed, we could be losing 63-0 to Temple.  Or Eastern Michigan.  Seriously, dudes.  Get a grip.

We have been spoiled by the Paterno era, and the high standard of SUCCESS WITH HONOR that he brought to and BUILT THIS program with.  But that Chapter in Penn State history is over, with only some minor editing work left to do, such as restoring the victories to Paterno.  Bill O'Brien seems committed to keeping HONOR.  The success, if you so believe, will follow.  It will.

We will never be the same team again.  Deal with it.  It doesn't matter who you plug in as head coach or defensive coordinator.  It will never be the same.  I saw a JoePa sticker on a Cadillac.  A little voice inside my head said "Don't look back you can NEVER look back" I thought I knew what love was, what did I know? Those days are gone forever, I should just let them go.

This is John Butler's first year as DC.  Is that really the standard now?  Seven games and it's hit or quit?  Is that success with honor, or is it win at all costs?  To my knowledge, and according to his bio, he has never been a DC before at the FBS level.  Can we at least give him a chance through the end of the year? Of the sanctions even?  Might it not be helpful to recruit players that fit their system?  Won't they be able to recruit better athletes AFTER the sanctions are over?

We played a solid Buckeye team that, to their credit, played a nearly flawless game.  All the pressure was on them and they rose to the challenge.  There obviously was incentive for the Bucks to "run up" the score, but I honestly don't think they did that.  Braxton stopped playing with 3 minutes left in the third quarter.  They even brought in a third string QB in the fourth. 



What I do think was weenie, and worthy of a douche bag award, was challenging the spot on Penn State's fourth down attempt.  I don't feel the video evidence was INDISPUTABLE but the wonderful Refs of Oz felt otherwise.  BTW--it was another poorly officiated game, with OSU holding at will and not being called, but to be honest, it wouldn't have changed the outcome much.  Maybe 49-14.  Big deal.  It's just the principle--why bias the officiating at all, let alone when the winning team doesn't even need the help.  Everyone's human, but even my non-Penn State friends have noticed that the officiating always favors OSU and UM.  Wisconsin.  Iowa.  I think we did benefit from a questionable PI call against Minnesota a few years ago.  Woo freaking Hoo!  Sometimes we can overcome the bad calls, like two weeks ago.  Other times, we're just screwed.

Seriously?  You're winning 56-7 and you CHALLENGE a spot?  I never liked Mr. Meyer before, and I like him even less now.  He has joined Lloyd "drive-by handshake" Carr, Bret "I'll keep kicking off-sides all night long because the rules allow it" Bielema and Mark "Ima gonna call a needless timeout in subzero temps just to piss your crowd off" Dantonio on the list of B1G DOUCHEBAGS.  Congratulations Urban!  Come on down and collect your year's supply of Massengills.



BY THE NUMBERS:

From the GoPSUsports site:

PSUOSU
FIRST DOWNS...................2032
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............40-12051-408
PASSING YDS (NET).............237278
Passes Att-Comp-Int...........34-19-226-20-0
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....74-35777-686
Fumble Returns-Yards..........0-00-0
Punt Returns-Yards............1-00-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards.........5-711-49
Interception Returns-Yards....0-02-0
Punts (Number-Avg)............6-37.03-46.7
Fumbles-Lost..................2-10-0
Penalties-Yards...............2-106-49
Possession Time...............26:3933:21
Third-Down Conversions........8 of 167 of 10
Fourth-Down Conversions.......0 of 10 of 0
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......1-25-5
Sacks By: Number-Yards........1-84-21


What can we say?  We all knew we'd have to score some points to win this game.  We failed.  We knew we'd have to create some opportunities (such as turn overs.)  We failed.  We knew we'd have to control Braxton.  We failed.  We knew we'd have to limit our own mistakes.  We failed.

What's funny . . . if you look just at the Penn State side of the stats sheet and ignore the turn-overs, it doesn't look that bad.   Three hundred and fifty seven total yards and 50% on third down conversions isn't bad for a game against the Number 4 team in the country. 

Unfortunately, there is a second side to the stat sheet.  And giving up 686 yards and 70% on third down isn't going to win many games, regardless of ranking.

But to pin this all on the defense is absurd.  The turn-overs put the defense into a hole early on.  The inability to maintain possession offensively, even when they don't score, hurts field position and doesn't give the D much time to catch their breath.  But that doesn't explain or atone for WIDE-OPEN receivers in the secondary or poor tackling which has been a problem all year.

INTANGIBLES:
Head Nut of Columbus

The Blue Band travelled to Columbus . . . no word on whether urine was involved or not.

Penn State won the toss and deferred.

A largely blood-red crowd of 105,889 watched the massacre.  The fans at home at least could flip over and watch the Penguins lose 4-1 to Toronto.  If a leaf falls on the ice, does anyone hear it?  IT WAS JUST A BAD NIGHT ALL AROUND.  Even Notre Dame won!

Pope Urban is undefeated as THE O$U head coach.  We are not amused.

But if you look at the programs he left behind, Florida is 4-3 with Georgia, South Carolina and F$U left on the schedule, and Utah is 4-4 with Arizona State, Washington State and Oregon left to play.  We can only hope that Urban leaves the Buckeyes in a similar state.  History repeats itself.  Hence the 63-14.  Karma has a way of biting one in the derrier.

THE B1G PICTURE:

The Nuts of Columbus lead it all.

Michigan State whipped the Illini 42-3.

Nebraska got cornholed by Minnesota, losing 34-23.

Iowa defated Northwestern, who has yet to win a B1G game, by the score of 17-10.

Future members lost as well, with Maryland falling to Clemson 40-27 and Houston had no problem defeating Rutgers 49-14.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  Pitt--defeated by the Midshipmen!  Anchors Aweigh!
2.  UConn--taken behind the woodshed by UCF 62-17.  Go Knights!
3.  Texas Tech--no longer unbeaten as they fell to OU 38-30.
4.  Missouri falls from the ranks of the unbeaten as well, losing to South Carolina 27-24.  Mizzou dinked a FG off the upright to lose in OT.
5.  UCLA lost to the Quackers 42-14.  GO DUCKS!
6.  Wake Forest came up short as Miami won late in the game again to go to 7-0 on the year.

LOOKING AHEAD:

The Lions travel to Illinois to take on the Illini (3-4, 0-3).

Here's the Illinois season to date:

W 42-34 over Southern Illinois
W 45-17 over Cincinnati
L  34-24 to Washington @ Soldier Field
W 50-14 over Miami (OH)
L  39-19 to Nebraska in Lincoln
L  56-32 to Wisconsin at home
L  42-3 to Michigan State in east Lansing

The Illini are looking for their first B1G win.  Penn State must regroup--this is where the coaching and leadership will be tested.  Good teams will rebound from a loss like this.  Not so good teams?  Well, they fold up the tents and start talking about next year.

Nothing has changed.  Penn State cannot go to a bowl game.  They cannot go to the B1G Championship game.  They are playing for pride and to hopefully sway and/or keep recruits. 

I don't want to say this is a MUST win game, because quite frankly, it is not.  But it is an important game nonetheless.  Purdue may be the closest thing to a "sure" win left on the schedule, and a loss to Illinois will probably foretell losses to Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin as well.  If Penn State wants to have a winning season--which is not an unreasonable goal at this point--I think they need to win this game.

GO STATE!  BEAT ILLINI!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Weekly Game Guide: The Bucks Stop Here Edition

Another week of college football is upon us, as Mississippi State leads Kentucky 21-10 at the half.

Cow bells ring . . . can you hear them?  During the game . . . can you stand them?

They're clanking in cheer, now I'm deaf in one ear

Cheering in a Southern Football Land.

Sure--Penn State has it's own Cowbell Man.  But that's one cowbell . . . in 108,000 fans.  Not a whole gaggle of clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk!  But I digress.

Penn State travels to Columbus, OH to take on the Nuts of Columbus in a late brawl on Saturday evening.  Penn State is hoping to build on it's emotional, if not pretty, win over the wolverines in their last outing, while the Bucknuts need a marquee win to improve their BCS ranking, which is currently fourth, behind Alabama, Florida State and Oregon.

Let's face it . . . . the Big Ten is not impressive this year.  Both Iowa and Northwestern are at 4-3 and NW has not won a Big Ten game yet.  Wisconsin is 5-2, and that was a respectable win.  Buffalo is also 5-2, but this was the University they beat, not the Bills.  They beat Cal, who is now 1-6, with a lone victory over Portland State.  Did you know Cal was that bad?  The bucks defeated Florida A & M by a score of 76-0, but FAM is 2-5 and Ohio State is the only FCS team they have faced so far (they beat Mississippi Valley State and Savannah State.)

Maybe a 4-2 Penn State team that somehow lost to Indiana for the first time ever won't improve their rankings, but struggling to beat a Penn State team that lost to Indiana will likely hurt them.  And if they lose, well then you can probably kiss a date with the national championship game good bye.



And it would be Urban Myers' first loss as THE head coach at THE Ohio State College.  I can't even begin to tell you how much I want to blog about Urban's first loss this Sunday.  I'd give up a Klondike Bar to see that happen!  Aside from winning the lottery, I can't think of anything I want more right now than a win over the Buckeyes this Saturday.

But enough about me.

In the Big Ten Conference this weekend:

The Hawkeyes are favored by 4 over the Wildcats.  GO HAWKS!

Michigan State is an 11.5 point favorite over the Illini.  I still can't bring myself to root for Illinois after their little recruiting expedition to Penn State in our darkest hours.  GO SPARTY!

Minnesota hosts the Cornhuskers, who are favored by 10.5 points.  This is a hard game to pick.  We have to play both teams, so from a strength of schedule point of view, it's a wash.  Nebraska is ranked, which makes a win by us look better, so we'll have to pick the Huskers here.  GO BIG RED!

THEM, Wisconsin, Indiana and Purdue are all off this week. 

Future Big Member Rutgers is favored by 8 over Houston.  GO KNIGHTS!

Future Big Member Maryland will try to upset the reeling Clemson Tigers, thought Clemson is favored by 13.  The game is at Maryland.

And in games of interest outside the Big Ten:

Notre Dame (favored by 19.5) plays Air Force.  GO FALCONS!

Alabama is favored by 28 over Tennessee.  Interesting.  ROLL TIDE ROLL.

Oregon is favored by 21 over UCLA.  GO DUCKS!

Florida State is a 29.5 point favorite over NC State.  GO NOLES!

UCF is a 22.5 point favorite over UConn.  GO KNIGHTS!

Until Ohio State loses, I have to keep rooting for Alabama, Oregon and F$U.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Morning Service: Just Good Business Edition

Welcome to the Irreverent Church of the Gridiron, all ye sinners and fumblers.

Listen now for the Word!

1 Timothy 6:10

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
 
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
 
Bret Bielema followed his heart to Arkansas, and the Razorbacks lost 52 to NOTHING.  Hallelujah!  The tide is high and rolling on.
 
Silas Redd followed his heart to San Francisco Los Angeles, and the Irish defeat the Trojans 14-10!


Johnny Football signed autographs for money, and Texas A and Texas M was smote by Auburn, 45-41.  Perhaps smite is a bit strong for a four-point victory, but we like the words smite and smote here at the Irreverent Church of the Gridiron!
 
SMITE THEM!
 
And it was so.
 
But in those days, the wolverine will rise back up and smite the Hoosier, for no one knows just what a Hoosier is, and few care for either of them.  If Jonah were alive, he would be seeking shade, while he waits for God to smite the wolverines again, but he would have waited in vain, for God cast his mercy on the wolverines of Nineveh Ann Arbor.  They prevailed 63-47.  (Did they leave our congregation to join the Big 12?  Perhaps the actual number of teams in our congregation confused them?)
 
The Valley of the shadow of defeat is littered with the corpses of the mighty.  LSU falleth before the Tiger of Auburn, 27-24.  Even the Bulldog of Georgia is not sacred anymore, as he fell to the Commodore of Vanderbilt, 31-27.  And the mighty Cardinal of Louisville fell on the sword of the Knight from Orlando, as UCF knocked Louisville from the ranks of the unbeaten with a score of 38-35 in Papa John's own temple.  And last, but not least, Clem's son was slain with the jawbone of a Seminole, as Florida State won 51-14.  And there was much gnashing of tiger teeth and pain and suffering followed them all the days of their trip home.
 
Other verses you may want to check out this week . . .
 
Missouri 36:17 - Lo, and the Gator became bait.  And its hide a really trendy purse, with matching boots!
 
Syracuse 0:56 - Beware the Ramblin' Wreck, lest ye lay an egg.
 
Temple 33:14 - And the Army bowed before the blind Owl.  Even a blind owl finds a mouse once in a while.

Oregon 62:38 - And the duck will walk with the cougar, but the cougar will tremble in fear.
 
In our humble little congregation (I swear we only have 10!), the mighty Badgers overcame the Illini 56-32.  The Spartans struggled but managed to beat the Boilermakers 14-0.  Even the Bible can't explain that!  The Buckeyes beat the Hawkeyes 34-24.  And the Golden Gopher handed Northwestern its third straight loss, defeating the Wildcat 20-17.  Perhaps Fitzgerald should not have mocked the Lion when he said that Syracuse should have beaten Penn State.  Self-righteousness follows the pride that goeth before a fall!
 
Which brings us to our sermon, today. 
 
MONEY.
 
Have you read about the grumbling at Grambling?  They fired their coach.  The players have walked out.  They forfeited a game against Jackson State.  What is going on here?
 
According to the scrolls from ESPN (All Hail Lee Corso!):

Grambling State football players complained of mold and mildew on equipment and in facilities, having to pay for Gatorade out of their own pockets and even said which assistants they thought would make a good interim coach after the firing of Doug Williams.

"It's horrible," [University President] Pogue said of the situation in an interview with ESPN. "Grambling is the institution when it comes to athletics. Whether Eddie Robinson -- there are legends abound. So it's horrible when the focus is in the negative on athletics."

The players' letter says "there are certain factors that are hindering us from reaching our goals" and then elaborates on many of them.

The athletic complex "is in horrible condition, and has many hazards that may contribute to our overall health," the letter says. "First, the complex is filled with mildew and mold. Mildew and mold can be seen on the ceiling, walls and floor, and are contributing to water leaks because of faltering walls and ceilings."

"The uniforms are poorly cleaned and contribute to the multiple cases (of) staph infection," the letter reads. "Several players have been infected with staph multiple times."

A group of 26 photos obtained by Gomez from an unnamed Grambling State player appears to illustrate some of the players' complaints.

Several of the photographs show walls and ceiling tiles and even player equipment that appear to be covered in mold or mildew.
 
Isn't it ironic that the city of Grambling actually petitioned the NCAA to vacate some of Paterno's wins so that Eddie Robinson could once again be the wins leader, John Gagliardi notwithstanding? Is this smiting the result of their prideful lust?

Perhaps.  But as in most cases, it usually is a matter of following the money.
[School Spokesman] Sutton added that buildings throughout campus, including the library, have similar problems because of neglect, and that the conditions football players have complained of are symptomatic of problems campus-wide stemming from substantial budget cuts.

"If people want to get this fixed, there are two things they can do: Make a donation to the Grambling Foundation and the other is lobby legislators to fund Grambling at the level it should be funded," Sutton said.

Sutton specified that the 57 percent cut in state funding, which has occurred over the past several years, has affected the entire campus, and that athletics was spared significant cuts until this academic year.

"When you have your budget slashed by 57 percent, you have to make choices," Sutton said, adding that the school would "love" to fly the team to distant road games, but that Grambling was contractually obligated to take its band, cheerleaders and dance team on those two trips. He said those obligations led to the difficult choice to put everyone on buses.
How long will it be before Pitt players have to walk across Pittsburgh to get to "their" stadium?  I particularly like the answer that the ONLY "ways" to fix the problem are to GET MORE MONEY.  Apparently paying the University president 57% less is NOT an option.  Or the head football coach.  Of course, they have a good example in Congress to follow.

Will Grambling raise their debt ceiling and play football this weekend?

Will the players continue to shut the Grambling football program down in protest?

Only time will tell.

But don't let this homily on the sin of money interfere with you being generous when I pass the collection plate around.  Hallelujah!

Till we congregate again, go fourth and long!  May all your fumbles be recovered.  May all your catches be in bounds.  Have a blessed week!