Penn State traveled to Iowa (and even though traveling is a basketball foul, I’m surprised the Big Ten refs didn’t throw a flag for that too) and came back with a 17-12 victory that wasn’t really that close.
But Iowa is a quality opponent, unlike Penn State’s schedule so far. (The jury is still out on Pitt.) All week long, Penn State fans had to listen to how hard it is to win at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa. Everything from the infamous pink locker room to the kids in the children’s hospital waving at the fans in the stadium to the stripe out. James Franklin has never beaten a ranked opponent on the road in the regular season. 0-11. And it was a full moon.
But the scariest part of the game came down to the referees once again. Yes. I am going there. I’m heading there as fast as I can, speed limit be damned. And I am going there after we won. Usually whining about the referees is wine served up in defeat, made from the sourest grapes you can find.
But when the replay officials failed to uphold or let stand the Friermuth touchdown, followed by two holding calls (and let’s pause for a minute to say that there are plenty of holding calls in every football game that don’t get called) that set Penn State so far back from the goal line they ended up settling for a field goal in a game that was just 10-6 at that point. 14-6 would have been crushing for an Iowa offense that hadn’t scored a touchdown since practically the last full moon.
And how can a quarterback fumble the snap, have the ball roll backward, and still get positive yardage for a first down?
And don’t even get me started on the phantom pass interference penalty that brought back memories of the one called on Scirotto that ultimately gave Iowa the chance to kick a field goal and blemish what turned out to be Paterno’s last best chance at another regular undefeated season in 2008.
The difference: this team was able to persevere and still win, despite what seemed like a concerted effort to keep Iowa in the game and give them a chance at the upset.
To Blake Gillikin: In a close defensive game like this, you cannot say enough about a punter that continually pinned the Hawks deep in their own territory.
To Noah Caine: If I were the coach, this kid would get 25 carries a game or more. The ability to rush for first downs late in the game and run out the clock is invaluable. How many games would have been won if Penn State had just been able to make a first down in the waning moments of a big game?
To Robert Windsor: Great game defensively. Six tackles, couple QB hurries, and 2.5 tackles for losses.
Big Ten Refs. Jesus, do you guys know the whole TV audience is watching your screw job? I haven’t seen such a pathetic attempt to change the outcome of a game since Witovet retired. Here’s a tip . . . if takes more than TWO minutes and you have to use an electron microscope to see blades of grass underneath a knee, then it is TOO CLOSE TO OVERTURN. You want to get it right–I understand that. But you got it wrong. Nice try! You’ll get a participation trophy after the game.
Kudos to the Penn State staff and team for maintaining composure and focus and still getting the job done.
BY THE NUMBERS:
While Iowa managed to out gain the Lions in total yardage, Penn State led the crucial total yards on the ground, holding the Hawks to just 70 rushing yards. Thanks to the running game, Penn State also managed to win time of possession.
And Iowa won the penalty battle. Imagine that!
James Franklin wins his first game on the road against a ranked opponent.
Penn State secured the #7 spot on both polls.
Penn State leads the all-time series 16-12 with a current streak of 6 wins.
THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:
Wisconsin blanked the Spartans 38-0 while Michigan topped the Illini 42-25. But that game was 28-25 with just over 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Indiana beat Rutgers 35-0. Who hasn’t beaten Rutgers?
Purdue rebounded with a big win over the Terrapins, 40-14.
The Gophers throttled the Huskers, 34-7.
MEANWHILE . . .
In Georgia . . . the Bulldogs stunk it up between the hedges badly enough for South Carolina to get the upset in double OT, 20-17. What I don’t understand is how Georgia is perennially ranked in the top 10, often top 5, in recruiting classes, yet they never seem to be able to transform that talent into wins. Sporting News ranked schools recruiting classes for the last 10 years, and while Alabama and Ohio State were #1 and #2, Georgia was #4. Now college recruiting is far from a science, and any given class may or may not pan out. But how can they be right most of the time with the Buckeyes and the Tide, but not the Bulldogs? Methinks Georgia has some way of not developing that talent. BTW, Michigan is Ninth on that list.
In Louisiana . . . LSU beat the Gators 42-28.
The-M. The Big Block M. They are all that and a bag of chips. Too sexy for their helmets.
The Wolverines are 5-1 and ranked #16 in both polls.
They almost lost to Army, but granted Army is a good football team–not great–but solid. Wisconsin pretty much Michigan-Man-handled the wolverines at Camp Randall. In common opponents, THEM held Iowa to 3. We held them to 6, with the refs adding another 6. We had Iowa on the road at night. They beat the Hawkeyes at the Big House. Adjust for the home field advantages (3 points). . . carry the one . . . they matched up +4 on a neutral field and we would have a margin of 8. This ain’t common core math. We will beat THEM.
And if this wasn’t exciting enough already, College GameDay is coming to Happy Valley next week! Get your Big Ten Ref signs ready!!!
GO STATE! BEAT THEM!