Thursday, September 18, 2014

Foe Pause: Can you spare a minute, man? Edition

Penn State opened as a 30 point favorite against the Minutemen of UMass.  The line has dropped since then, but still is better than a 4 TD differential.

In researching this week's foe, I learned something new.  UMass is a MAC team!  I did not know that!  I thought they were FCS, but apparently, they are one of the Big Boys now.  I did not get that Memo!  And they are coming to Beaver Stadium not to go all Appalachian State all over us, but to try and Holy Toledo us.

They look so lonely over there.  B.O. perhaps?

Some have called this a trap game.  Those same people have called the last three games "trap" games.  And Penn State is sitting pretty at 3-0, all footloose and sanction free.

Penn State has never played UMass in football before.  A virgin opponent!

The Minutemen hail from Foxborough, Massachusetts (Gillette Stadium) and are coached by Mark Whipple.  Whipple was a quarterback at Brown.  Who else do we know was a QB for Brown????  Thinking . . . thinking. . . . it'll come to me later.  Whipple was also a QB coach for the Steelers in 2004-6.  Prior to that he was head coach at UMass for 6 years, and has an overall record there as head coach of 49-29, including an 0-3 start to this season.

Please, Don't Squeeze my Team!

The Minutemen have actually been to two bowls.

They lost the 1964 Tangerine Bowl 14-13 to East Carolina, and won the 1972 Boardwalk Bowl over UC Davis 35-14.  Their relevance to modern football is quite apparent.

Statistically, according to ESPN, UMass is 80th in passing yards (224.0), 118th in rushing yards (82.3), 91st in points for (25.3) and 104th in points against (35.)

While the Penn State offense is struggling, the Minutemen have given up 35 points on average to teams like Colorado, BC (who just beat USC) and Vanderbilt (who is really struggling this year sans Franklin.)  UMass does not bring the hatred and passion that Rutgers showed last week, and no one will ever confuse this as a rivalry game.  No one should have confused last week's match-up as one either, but Rutgers is arguably a better team than UMass.

Penn State needs this game for the offensive line to gain some confidence.  It is a work in progress, but only UMass and Northwestern stand between THEM and Ohio State back to back, albeit both coming off bye weeks in October.

I look to see Penn State NOT STRUGGLE (did you hear that guys---no last minute antics to pull out a win this week, please, and for the love of God don't lose this game!) and use this game to tune up some weaknesses.  I hope our back-up QB gets some reps, because with Hack running for his life the past few games, he is one hit away from being on the injured reserved list.

However, looking at how the Minutemen have struggled to score, I think our defense has a chance to pitch a shut out.  So I think Penn State will win easily, but may be lucky to cover the spread.  Let's say 27-3.


In the Big Ten:

Michigan State takes on Eastern Michigan.  GO Spartans!

Illinois takes on Texas State.  GO BOBCATS!

Nebraska plays Miami (FL).  This should be a good game.  GO HUSKERS!

Indiana travels to Missouri.  Good luck with that.  We can root for the Hoosiers all we want, but I think we know who will win this game!

The Hawkeyes travel to Pittsburgh--GO HAWKS!

Northwestern tries to get a win against Western Illinois.  What the heck, let's root for the Wild-can'ts!

The Terps head to Syracuse--GO TERPS!

Rutgers tries to rebound against Navy.  GO MIDSHIPMEN!

Minnesota hosts San Jose State.  GO GOPHERS!

Purdue should be able to make it back to .500 with a win over Southern Illinois.

Utah comes to the Big House.  GO UTES!

And Wisconsin hosts Bowling Green.  GO BADGERS!

The Buckeyes are off this week, preparing for Cincinnati.

In games featuring past opponents:

UCF should win against Bethuse-Cookman.

Akron takes on Marshall.  GO ZIPS!


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