RAZOR-BURNED

In the first ever meeting between Penn State University and the Razorbacks of Arkansas, the Nittany Lions came up well short, losing 24-10 after leading 10-7 at the half. The Razorbacks went hog wild in the second half and burned our defense like a flame thrower going after a pile of dry leaves.

We can argue for hours on end about what went wrong, but it ultimately is the same points being rehashed over and over and over again. It wasn’t New Year’s Day. It was Groundhog Day.

This was our biggest loss of the year. We only lost to Ohio State by 9. Michigan by 4. And Arkansas was the lowest ranked of the ranked teams that beat us.

No running game. No protection for the quarterback. Red Zone offensive woes. Big Play capability, but no blue collar offense. Field goal kicking issues. Clock management issues–nearly everyone watching the game with me (ok that was one person, and the waitress, but I don’t think she was really paying attention to the game) thought we should have at least run a play with 15 seconds on the clock at the end of the first half.

What do you have to lose?

You are 7-5 (at this point) and clinging to a 3 point lead. What is the worst that could happen? A fumble? An INT? It’s 15 seconds. At least TRY.

Different story if you are 12-0, facing the number one team in the country. Then you take your knee and protect your lead going into the half. For God’s sake open your eyes and look at the big picture around you! Stop and smell the ashes of lost opportunities.

Compound all that with the situational problems of players opting out–while Dotson was a loss, his absence was not nearly so glaring as the losses on the defensive side of the ball. I’m thinking we suited up some of our cheerleaders at half time to play defense. Did anyone see our cheerleaders on the sideline in the second half? I rest my case.

In looking back at the game, I really wonder how we managed to lead at the half. Freaking dumb ass luck apparently.

The second half was just a disaster. Top to bottom on both sides of the ball.

Which is worse, our offense being shut out in the second half, or our defense giving up 17 unanswered third quarter points? Pick your poison.

The Razorback’s final scoring drive of the third quarter started at the Arkansas 21 yard line. FOUR RUSHING PLAYS LATER, the Hogs were celebrating in the end zone. Runs of 34, 12, 32 and 1 yard(s).

Game Over. And there was still over 2 painful minutes left in the third.

The stats are the good, the bad and the ugly. We held them to 90 yards passing, and a third down conversion ratio of 4-14. GOOD. Our own third down conversion ratio was 6-15. Meh. But we only had 125 total rushing yards, 47 of which belonged to our quarterback. Granted, their quarterback accounted for a third of their yardage–but he ran for over 100 yards against us. BAD. And while their 3rd down conversion rate was worse, 40% for us compared to 30% for them, they had 8 more first downs than we did, and 13 more minutes of possession, largely due to success running the ball on first down and converting on 2nd. down. You don’t have third down conversions if you convert on first and second down! UGLY.

And in the end, Penn State, once ranked third and undefeated not quite midway into this season, ends up unranked at 7-6. To call this anything less than disappointing is severely naive. Calling it a disappointment is a disappointment to disappointments. We did not have ONE running back rush for over 100 yards this entire season. NOT ONE!

And we led at some point in EVERY game.

THIS is the definition of DISAPPOINTING.

Did Penn State travel well today? I didn’t see many pics of the stadium crowd, but as I sit here listening to the Sugar Bowl game . . . the Ole Miss fans are LOUD. I really didn’t hear much crowd noise today, although I was watching at Champs and not in my living room. What happened to the rabid PSU fan base?

Again, we can replay Ground Hog Day over and over again. Close games. A play or two here or there. Here a play, there a play, everywhere a play play. An injury or so here and there. You put your QB in you take your QB out. You put him back in and he gets so rocked about. You do the Chokie Pokie and you turn your fans around–that’s what this is all about. Losses to a lot of top 20 teams, Illinois being the notable and glaring outlier there. Blah, blah, blah.

If we look at the ESPN power index ratings for the top 20 schools . . .

Take note that of those twenty teams, we have the second WORST record, beating out only Auburn at the very bottom of the list. Other teams faced tough schedules–and did better than we did. In fact, most did.

Do Cincinnati, Pitt, or Ole Miss pay their head coach as much as we do? Do they have superior facilities? Better recruiting? Pitt doesn’t even have an on-campus stadium!

Yet here we are.

7-6.

Happy Ground Hog Penn State fans.

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The Backout Bowl

I was going to opt out on writing a preview blog, you know–worried about a typing injury that might interfere with my ability to perform surgery–but then I felt a certain sense of duty to do what you have come to expect me to do. And to that end, I will do my best to provide you with an insightful (perhaps even inciteful) but ultimately worthless piece of prose that means absolutely nothing. You get what you pay for.

You can probably predict where I am going with this based on the blog’s title and opening paragraph. And if you are a regular reader, then you know that I am a FAN. That is short for fanatic. And I put the TIC in FANATIC.

As with anything in life, any argument has to look at the reality of the situation if it is going to be credible on any level.

So what is the reality of the situation? Dang it! I just broke a nail!

Well, first and foremost, there is nothing to prevent a player from opting out.

A potential injury to a player projected to go high in the draft, could conceivably be a multi-million dollar loss. I strongly considered skipping finals in college–I just didn’t think it was worth risking a brain sprain that might keep me from going on to medical school and costing me a lot of potential income down the road–but reconsidered when I realized that passing those finals and courses was kind of required to get into medical school. It’s way different for athletes. And a lot more money is involved.

Life is not fair.

So those are the facts, ma’am. Read ’em and weep.

Does that mean we can’t discuss this issue further?

Abso-positively-lutely NOT!

This is the freaking Internet! We don’t need silly facts to get in the way of seeking TRUTH!

I did try for maybe a couple minutes, a few clicks here and there, to find some hard data regarding how often a high NFL draft prospect gets injured in a bowl game. Unfortunately, it is not a well studied area of science and most of what I found was anecdotal.

There was an interesting Sports Illustrated article (in the Swimsuit Issue–I spent way too much time looking for data there which is probably a contributing factor to why I have no data to present to you here, but there was one model who dared to eat a donut even though she knew it might keep her from making the big bucks smiling in front of a camera with dental floss for a bikini–she survived and still made money!) Where was I? Maldives? Jamaica. Oh, wrong issue.

Anyway, Jaylon Smith and Jake Butt chime in with their thoughts on players opting out of bowl games to preserve NFL draft status. Both of these players ended up with injuries that adversely affected their draft statuses and their future NFL careers. Opting out was not an “in” thing before this. As the article quotes: “My situation has affected college football forever,” Smith says. “I’m going in the history books.”

Still, even though he lost out on significant money, his rookie season, and risked the longevity of his career with such a serious injury, Smith says he doesn’t regret playing in the Fiesta Bowl. “Being a competitor and a captain of my Notre Dame team, it was important for me to go out the right way,” he says.

The right way. Remember that. I will come back to that later. What about Butt? Here is his response:

Butt knew of Smith’s story, but says he hadn’t considered sitting out from the Orange Bowl until some of his teammates asked him about it after they saw the news that Fournette and McCaffrey would not be playing in their bowl games. Butt figured the reason he’d committed to Michigan in the first place was to play in big, nationally televised games like the Orange Bowl. “I know it sounds a little bit crazy,” he says, “but I would make the same exact choice again. That was one of the biggest games I was going to play in in Michigan my career.”

He would make the same choice again. Very interesting.

College football is unfortunately a business. A very big business. In the Big Ten it is BIG business.

But as a fan who has followed this pastime for many decades–the thrills of victories and the agonies of defeats–I do not like where any of this is heading.

Students who at one time couldn’t even accept a free burger from a coach on a recruiting visit, can now parlay the use of their image into real money. They have always had the opportunity to get scholarships–free rides at schools where that could be worth anywhere from $50-200K.

But it’s no longer about the education. Maybe it never was. But I do recall many of the great Paterno teams being senior laden–many with FIFTH YEAR seniors. You don’t see these kids stick around that long anymore. They don’t even stick around at one school anymore. I remember when you used to have to sit out a year if you transferred. Now, you can use the portal like Captain Kirk travelling around Uranus looking for Klingons. Beam me to a school that will play me, Scotty!

And now, they don’t even have to play their last game.

It’s interesting how this argument would change drastically if you could remove the money factor from the equation.

Seriously. I think you could strongly argue that all these kids would take their free trips to bowl venues and play these games for fame if there were no risk to their fortunes.

But wouldn’t they still risk injury? Adam Taliaferro is a lucky guy. Ryan Shazier likewise. They will never play the game again, for money or not, but they have healed from their severe injuries incurred while PLAYING A GAME.

Football is a rough sport. A quick Google of “which sport has the highest injuries” shows various results. Many of the first page articles claim that basketball has the highest rate of injuries, but there is an NIH article from the Journal of Athletic Training that affirms that football is the highest injury prone collegiate sport. I think we can safely say that for better or worse, football players take a risk of injury every time they walk onto a playing field be it for practice or competition.

Yet, if there was no money involved, I don’t think you would see the number of star players opting out of their bowl games. Think of it like this–if there was a way to insure that any potential future NFL player could be fully compensated for any potential lost revenue even if there was an injury and they were never able to play again–would they play?

The point I’m trying to make here is that these kids aren’t afraid of getting hurt–perhaps never walking again depending on the injury–they are afraid of losing money.

But on the flip side, colleges are just as concerned with the money. Show them the Money!

I found this rather interesting article on the finances of college athletics–which also shows a picture of Penn State and Ohio State playing at the top. The data cited is from the 2018-19 time frame so it is pre-COVID. Private institutions (such as Notre Dame) are not listed because they are not required to divulge their financial data as a public university must do.

Yet these figures tell only part of the story. Most casual observers might be shocked to learn that despite the huge sums of cash seen here, only a handful of schools actually make money through college athletics.

If you didn’t click on the link, Penn State is #6 with a revenue of $164,529,326.

Insane amounts of money. But as a business owner myself, there are also insane amounts of overhead. Facilities, stadiums, advertising, recruiting, coaches salaries, assistants, secretaries and on and on.

When a kid commits to Penn State, Penn State is also committing a lot to that kid. Dotson was given a venue to showcase his talents. Every dollar that Penn State spent on their sports program either directly or indirectly helped Dotson get to the point where he is now.

But Dotson has talent. He could showcase it at any other school.

The schools benefit from the athletes. The athletes benefit from what the schools can provide them with.

It would be rather low class for a school, heading to a bowl game where they will make MONEY to tell one of their players, ‘sorry, Mr. Dotson. We don’t need your services anymore. You won’t be travelling with us, and we won’t be issuing you a diploma. Oh, and by the way, you owe us for the course hours you completed already.’

Can a school even do that? Probably not.

The level of commitment is really one-sided. The University provides. The athletes–and head coaches–take as much advantage as they can, and often move on.

And “the University” is more than just a building and a name. It is alumni. It is fans. As a Pennsylvania citizen, I am personally responsible for one fan’s share of all that money Penn State makes–I buy tickets, I donate, I pay taxes and some of that money goes back to PSU, not to mention parking fees, concessions, and Penn State licensed apparel. I watch the advertisements during their games. I buy some of those products. Some of that goes back to Penn State.

We fans are the reason any of this happens.

If no one goes to games, buys tickets, or watches them on TV, there is no money.

And comically, we fans have the LEAST say in all this business.

Recall earlier I said I would come back to that comment about the right thing to do?

If a player commits to Penn State, and Penn State gives them every opportunity to improve and increase their NFL status, then I think the player owes some commitment back to the school, and by extension the fans and patrons that make all this possible.

I agree with Jaylon Smith. Playing in your final Bowl Game is the right thing to do.

It just might not be the wisest decision if money is what is important to you. I don’t like it, but I do get it.

And that’s the way it is. Players have the option. It is up to them.

So how about that bowl game? Who’s going to win?

ESPN. Penn State–the University–win or lose. And I might even get some entertainment value out of the deal.

But I have no idea who is going to win. I’m not even sure who is playing! The only sure thing is Clifford will play. He’s like death and taxes. And he’ll be a sixth year senior next year!

Come New Year’s Day, I will be rooting for whoever we put on the field in blue and white. Even if we have to put some cheerleaders in on defense! It’s going to be more like a Blue-White scrimmage than a real game, but it is what it is, and I will always be a fan!

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Say it Ain’t Snow!

The Nittany Lions flew to East Lansing, Michigan to take on the highly rated but certainly beatable Spartans in the midst of a driving snowstorm.

They lost by three lousy points, losing 20-17 and falling to 7-5 on the season. No rank for PS-you!

Literally hours after Franklin inked a ten-year $85 million dollar contract, Mel Tucker of Michigan State just laughed and inked his own ten year deal–for $95 million. So what do you get for an extra $10 mil? Looks to be about 3 points.

A $95 Million Look

In bowling, sometimes you throw a good shot, hit the pocket, but it doesn’t carry, leaving a ten pin, or a solid 8, or worse yet an inexplicable split. A guy I used to bowl with had this happen. Our team wasn’t doing well either at the time. As he walked back the approach, he shrugged and said, “season in a nutshell.”

Another heart wrenching loss in a game that could have/should have been won. SEASON IN A NUTSHELL.

Five losses and every single one of them could have been a win. I may be mistaken, but I think Penn State had a lead at some point in every single game. The biggest defeat was by 9 points. Two games were separated by a field goal. One by two points. And another by 4. The average in 5 losses was 4.2 points. Take out the Ohio State game, and that is 3 points per loss.

But, don’t forget the schedule we played. Six teams were ranked in the top 22 when we played them. Four of those losses are to teams in the current top 15 of the AP poll. According to TeamRankings.com, Penn State had the eighth toughest schedule in the country. And we were still a quarterback injury and and a handful of plays away from winning more games.

Am I happy? Hell no!

Am I disappointed? Words can’t even begin to describe my pain.

Jordan Stout, who won the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honor 4 times this season, was just shy of 70% on kicking field goals this season. He missed two extra points this year. But his punting and kick offs were phenomenal. In case you are wondering, 70% on field goals is 80th in the NCAA. Perspective? Eight Big Ten teams have kickers ranked higher with a higher percentage: Ohio State (3), Michigan (8), Iowa (14), Purdue (43), Illinois (54), Wisconsin (67), Rutgers (71) and Indiana (77.) The missed field goal from inside 30 yards and the missed extra point could have tied or won this game for Penn State. Pinegar kicking the last extra point (and making it) is the adage equivalent of closing the barn door after the horse has already left. And while the weather conditions were not ideal (even the MSU kicker missed an extra point as well,) these were not isolated misses unique to this game. This was part of the pattern. Strong leg on kickoffs, accuracy on field goals and PAT’s not so much. Hold my beer! He’s gonna attempt a kick! The coaches should have worked on this (maybe they did and failed) or used a more accurate kicker for PATs and short field goals while letting Stout kick it out of the end zone routinely on kick offs. And if you don’t have anyone else on the roster that can kick better than 70% (80th in the nation), WHY NOT???? Not acceptable for a team that aspires to be elite.

Am I being over critical of a kid that doesn’t deserve criticism? I love this kid. I will root for him as long as he plays. I just wish he could hit a few more field goals and not miss extra points. I’m sorry if a fan criticizing a player bothers you. This is what it is. If you choose to come to Penn State and have 108,000 fans cheering you on when you make a good play, well don’t expect them to turn a blind eye when you make a bad one. You are being “paid” for this–if nothing else you can get a quality education if you want it. And now you can make money off using your image. And you have an opportunity that not many athletes get–a chance to showcase your talent for the coveted money maker of all time: the NFL. Get over it. You don’t want to hear the truth–you can’t handle the truth!–then I’m sure there are THOUSANDS of other high school football players that would LOVE to take your place.

Penn State has not had a running back go for more than a hundred yards all season. In fact, I don’t think anyone rushed for more than 74 yards in one game. That was against Indiana. Criticizing? Or fact? Just state the facts, ma’am.

There was not one iota of improvement in the running game from game 1 to game 12. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result?

That my friends is COACHING.

The coach doesn’t fumble. He doesn’t miss the extra point or field goal. He doesn’t over throw a receiver or throw a pick six. He doesn’t miss a tackle.

But the coach is the one responsible for the putting the players on the field that do. And for calling plays that allow their strengths to match up with the opponent’s weaknesses. And good coaches adjust to adversity and overcome obstacles like fumbles or missed kicks.

The head coach is the captain of the ship. If he didn’t recruit a good offensive line, that is on his head.

If the quarterback is struggling, ill, or ineffective for whatever reason, it is the coach’s decision to continue playing him or not. Do we kick or go for it. Coaching. Do we kick or take a time out and ice our own kicker? Coaching. Do we run or pass? Coaching. Who put the ape in apricot? What do elite teams got that we ain’t got?

COACHING!

You can say that again.

And now we have locked in our head coach for TEN YEARS. Another decade. That’s like one year in Paterno years. But still? What were we thinking?

Are we just going to pay more for the same old mediocrity, or are we going to get more bang for our megamillion bucks? That remains to be seen.

I saw these young men play their hearts out. I didn’t see one game where these guys gave up this year. (and in all fairness–that is coaching to some extent as well.) Maybe Clifford shouldn’t have been playing the Illinois game so soon after his injury. He certainly didn’t look 100%. But he still tried and almost got it done. It’s just a shame that all that hard work and dreams will go down in the books as a 7-5 season with a December to not remember bowl game.

Of all the words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, what might have been.

BUT . . . on the bright side. We don’t have to store the Land Grant Trophy for an entire year!

Land Grant Shed

UPDATE! Since the typing of this post, I see that Jordan Stout was named the Big Ten Punter of the Year. Congratulations Jordan!

Also, Brent Pry has apparently accepted a head coaching position at Virginia Tech. Best wishes until we play them! So who will the 85 Million Dollar man anoint for that position? Shall we just assume for now that the defense will be “learning a new system” for 12 games next year? Oy and double oy!

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Veilleux Be My Quarterback?

On a breezy and brisk November afternoon, the Nittany Lions, coming off a heart-wrenching loss to the Wolverines and an overall disappointing season to date, faced the Scarlet Pimpernel of Piscataway. It was senior day at Beaver Stadium and Military Appreciation day as well, highlighted by a Pennsylvania Air National Guard EC-130J plane flyover at the end of the national anthem.

But the Lions were battling more than just Rutgers . . . fighting off the flu as well–a total of 21 players had it during the week and 14 tried to play.

The results, though, were electrifying, as the Lions shut out the Knights (the first time in school history that the defense shut out two Big Ten teams in one season) and cruised to a 28-0 win before a faux crowd of 106,038. Apparently whoever counts the fans in the stadium also counts election ballots. I know. I know. They count seats SOLD not occupied. And the students were on break. There were actually more fans there than I expected, but hardly a filled stadium . . .

And the first half was as exciting as watching paint dry. Seriously. The bleacher in front of me was empty and I was really tempted to take a nap. I may have nodded off a time or two. The first quarter was simply a punt fest. EIGHT PUNTS. NO POINTS. Penn State didn’t score until there was 1:03 left in the half. But . . .

It was turning point in the game, and quite possibly the future of Penn State football.

Christian Veilleux took over for the ailing Sean Clifford in the second quarter. And while his first two drives weren’t anything to write home about, the kid settled in and finally threw a touchdown pass to Dotson to put Penn State on the board.

Veilleux went 15 of 24 for 235 yards, threw three touchdowns and no interceptions in his college debut. He showed a lot of poise in the pocket albeit against the Scarlet Knights, not the Scarlet and Gray. Poise in the pocket, poise in his pants. Sounds like a commercial for something . . .

His performance already has many fans wondering . . . what if? What if he had come in against Iowa instead of Robeson? What if he started against Illinois? What if? What if?

I was really impressed with what I saw. He had a couple over thrown passes, but for the most part he was right on the money. His ability to throw back across the field while on the run was simply incredible. He used his feet as well as his arm. He was sporting number 9, and I was having flashbacks of McSorley.

Like it or not, Penn State needs a mobile quarterback to be effective. At least since joining the Big Ten. We don’t get many Kerry Collins or Todd Blackledges. Two in fifty years. Our most successful seasons, and by extension most successful quarterbacks, are guys that can throw and run. Doesn’t matter who the head coach or offensive coordinators are. This is who we are, like it or not. Michael Robinson. Darryl Clark. Trace McSorley. And Sean Clifford before his injury which limited his mobility–and by extension, limited our offense.

This is even true in the big league. Look at the successful QBs in the NFL. Lamar Jackson. That Herbert kid that ran all over the field against the Steelers. Meanwhile, the Steelers slog it out with an aging QB that can’t run like he did back when he was more successful. Everyone would love to have a Tom Brady at the helm, but most have to settle for a mobile QB to keep the chains moving. The more options an offense has the more effective it will be.

Of course, they always say the most popular player on any team is the back up quarterback. We humans can be very fickle. And there is a certain gambler in all of us. The idea here is that when we don’t like what is going on, a change–any change–has to be better. We’re willing to bet on it. That’s how most coaches got their jobs in the first place–previous guy got fired because he couldn’t win–the new guy HAS to be better! Hell, that’s how Sleepy Joe got his job. Be careful what we wish for . . .

Which brings us back to James Franklin, who apparently told the State College Quarterback Club earlier in the week that he was not going anywhere. Well, we know he’s not going to Indianapolis or to any playoff games, but I guess we can cross off USC and LSU as well.

I have very mixed feelings.

I really liked JF from day one. His ability to recruit is like nothing we have ever seen at Penn State.

But then there are all the other little things: clock mismanagement, ill-timed trick plays, losing to teams we should defeat, not performing well against ranked teams. It’s been eight years and there doesn’t seem to be any progress.

But would bringing in another coach be any better? Who knows? Only the shadow knows!

Look how well Texas is doing with their carousel of coaches. When was the last time Nebraska had a great team. Tom Osborn? Sometimes, patience is a virtue. But on the other hand, stubbornness can be a curse as well.

For now, I am going to savor this victory, and I look forward to seeing Christian Veilleux lead this team in the future!

Penn State dominated the stat sheet this week. They held the mighty Knights to under a hundred yards rushing OR passing. But the 3rd down conversions are still a problem–might have been better if Christian had started the game and we didn’t have punt-a-palooza in the first quarter.

Next week, the Lions travel to East Lansing, Michigan to take on the formerly highly ranked Spartans. Sparty was simply crushed by THE Ohio State College this past weekend 56-7! They are still ranked 12th/13th in the two polls. Their only other loss was to the Boilermakers in a lopsided 40-21 defeat. They beat Rutgers 31-13 and went to OT with Nebraska. They beat Indiana by 5 points.

After the Illinois game, I thought we had little chance to win this one. Now, I’m not so sure. The Spartans opened as a ONE point favorite. Odds Shark has Penn State winning, covering–take the OVER.

And in other news . . . Oregon doesn’t want in. They bowed out, losing to Utah 38-7. Maybe the Ducks should hire Franklin? Michigan and Notre Dame are still on the outside looking in, but Michigan “controls their destiny” as a victory in THE GAME over the buckeyes would catapult them into the Top 4. Not sure Michigan can win that game, but you never know. On any given Saturday, even Illinois can beat Penn State.

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Oops, We Miched it Again

Well here we are. Another week. Another loss. Another blog attempt to exorcise the demons.

2020 was a rough year for Penn State football, starting 0-5. 2021 says, “You ain’t seen nothing yet. Hold my beer!”

I actually thought we had a good chance to win this game. We actually did. But more on that later.

We are probably a play or three away from being 4-6, but likewise a handful of plays away from being undefeated. The loss to Ohio State was the largest margin: 9 points. The other losses were 3, 2 and 4 points. CLOSE but no cigar or playoff spot.

Football games always come down to match-ups. Who has the best match-ups generally wins. Throw in some random luck–fumbles, weather conditions, etc. But it really comes down to how you match up with the other team–offensive line versus defensive line. Receivers versus corner backs. Special teams play. And one that cannot be over-looked: coaching.

I thought James Franklin had the edge in this one. If there was any coach in the Big Ten that might be worse on game day, it might just be Jim Harbaugh.

James Franklin: “Challenge accepted. Hold my Beer!”

With a brilliant display of coaching ineptitude, he called for a fake field goal from the TWO YARD LINE. The play not only didn’t fool the Wolverines, who had just been bitten by a fake punt that led to a PSU field goal and 3 point lead, but it was so poorly executed that we lost yardage all the way back to the thirty yard line!

There has to be a thought process to this doesn’t there? I mean, we’re not pulling plays out of a helmet are we? (It seems that way sometimes!) I used to think Jay Paterno and Galen Hall played rock-paper-scissors to decide who called the play. So what pray tell was this thought process????

I have fourth and goal from the two yard line. What are my options? Go for it, putting the ball into our best players hands and knowing that barring some freak accident of nature, there won’t be a 99 yard pick six or scoop and score the other way. If you don’t make it, the wolverines are still backed up against their goal line. Hold them and get good field position for another score.

Option 2: Kick a field goal. Not necessarily a given since Stout has an annoying habit of missing extra points and easy field goals. But probably a lower risk play than a fake and you can put points on the board against a tough opponent. Odds makers had PSU a one point underdog. Three points is better than none right?

But Franklin went with option 3 and we can only assume the choice was his to make. He pulled the trigger on a fake field goal that blew up as we all watched in horrified agony.

WHAT WAS HE THINKING?

Did he think the fake punt went so well, that we could pull it off again? We’d have been better off calling for the Spanish Inquisition! No one would have suspected that! Instead, the Wolverines were well prepared to not be embarrassed a second straight time in one quarter. And in all fairness–the fake punt was actually pretty well defended but the pass and catch were flawlessly executed. The fake field goal: not so much. Fool us once, shame on you. Try to fool us twice–shame on you again! They farted in our general direction! Our coach is a hamster and our offense smelt of elderberries!

Statistically speaking, we were pretty close to the team ranked ninth in the nation last week.

Perhaps the key stat here is the third down conversions. The wolverines were 40% while PSU was only 33%. Everything else is close enough for government work to be considered equal. Hey we managed 109 yards. SHOULD BE BETTER. But that is what it is, and it isn’t good.

But despite that. In spite of that. Spite me down Darth Harbaugh and I will become more powerful than you can imagine! WE STILL HAD A LEAD IN THE FOURTH QUARTER! WE HAD A CHANCE TO BEAT THEM!

We were so close! But the fisherman on the State Farm commercial pulled the victory away at the last second. Oooh. You almost had it!

Would the outcome have been different had we not tried the fake field goal? Had Stout not missed what many would consider a makeable 43 yard field goal? Maybe we score a touchdown after the Michigan fumble instead of settling for 3 points. Woulda, coulda shoulda.

Do we want James Franklin to go? Do we want him to stay? To go or not to go, THAT IS the question.

Sitting on the top ranked recruiting class for next year, do we want to risk that and throw the dice with a coach to be named later?

Will bringing in the best recruiting class actually translate to more wins on the field, or just more disappointments? Elevated expectations and poorer results?

The answer is three. It takes three licks to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop.

And with that, I am done with this game.

But that leaves us to look at Rutgers. The level of excitement here is below zero. Unfortunately, the team will probably feel this way as well. This is a coaching challenge. Can JF motivate this team to play hard and hopefully beat Rutgers? We are 17.5 point favorites after all. The bloody knights are 5-5 coming off a 38-3 drubbing of the Hoosiers. They are looking to become bowl eligible with only a game against Maryland after this match-up to secure a spot. A loss this week will essentially end the season for Penn State–look for two more losses–Michigan State and whatever dregs of the college football world we are matched up with in the Detroit Toilet Bowl Extravaganza on December 10th. At least the team will be home for the holidays!

Maybe Franklin will fake a press conference this week.

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Dotson Drives All Over Maryland

It was a record setting day for Jahan Dotson as he caught 11 passes for 242 yards. Penn State showcased it’s patented Big Play, No Substance offense and it’s stifling defense added a thrilling pick six to seal the deal en route to a 31-14 win over the Terrapins of Maryland.

Are you excited yet?

Were you excited while it was happening?

Were you ever excited about this game?

No need to answer. I know what you are thinking. I have ESPn.

In this roller coaster season of highs and lows, thrills of victories and agonies of defeat, this was a hardly a pleasurable experience, but at the same time, not painful.

Sports fans are never at a lack for an opinion. It was an ugly win. It was a fluke. A lucky break. Can you even believe that happened? It’s the officiating. The coach has to go. They need to bring in the back-up quarterback. Do we even have an offensive line coach?!?! We are such a Luke warm Fickle bunch!

Here’s a quick recap of some posts from a Facebook Penn State group:

“Correct me if I am wrong: We have not had a RB rush for 100 yards in a game this year.” Without looking it up, I can’t say for sure but I’m thinking he is right.

“This team is such a joke from top to bottom. They only get “up” for big games and the coaching staff fails them. Then against inferior opponents they struggle with every aspect of the game. Absolutely ridiculous.” Wow. Tell us how you really feel! And yet there is an unsettling kernel of truth in that assessment.

“Oh wait. Another over throw.” Apparently not a Team Clifford person.

“It is just me or does Franklin look uninterested?” Probably not interested in the game. Even I wasn’t that interested.

“That was just ugly!! 53 should not touch the field again.” A whole lot of activity arguing about the ethics of sideline behavior.

“Jahan Dotson for Heisman!” Hey at last a positive post!

So much unrest, so little bandwidth.

I’m neither hear to condemn these avid fans nor praise them. I come to bury Caeaser, not praise him! Being a fan is what it is, and it is different for every person. It’s actually part of what makes spectator sports so interesting: the spectators. And while that zeal can cross the line at times–I’m sure I’ve crossed it a few–that line shifts depending on your perspective.

For instance: what really happened on the sideline. Tagovailoa ran out of bounds into the Penn State sideline. He encountered a Penn State player who pushed him. He went down. He got up. Went back in. Play resumed. THAT is what happened.

Should it have been flagged? Probably. I have seen refs flag less egregious acts for 15 yards. I’ve also seen worse that went unpunished. I am actually surprised there wasn’t a flag.

But then there is a whole psychotherapy session which ensues. The coaching staff is lax for allowing that to happen. Unlike the scenario I described above in relation to that episode, this is heresay and supposition, unbased in fact. First, you must conclude that the act was malicious and worth a penalty. If not, then NO ONE is responsible for lax standards. For all we know, the coaches have reviewed that incident and punishment is being meted out. Or perhaps they reviewed it and think it isn’t worth their time.

Well, Joe Paterno would never have stood for that! Maybe. Maybe not. I do think Joe was a disciplinarian and he held the view that being a better person was more important than being a good football player. His doghouse was infamous. Again, we can all argue about that till the cows come home. There were times I thought Joe was too heavy handed in his punishments. Other times, I thought he was too lenient. Perspective people. It’s all perspective and what’s important to you.

Many of us miss the days of Joe Paterno football–not the Big Ten Era but the Joe of the 60’s through 90’s. We held our heads high and looked down at other programs that have lower graduation rates. We weren’t like the Switzers and the Sherrills. We orated on Success with Honor, as though there wasn’t a sinner among us. We remember Penn State players in suits and Miami players in fatigues. Good versus Bad.

And when something doesn’t fit that convenient image we have of our team/school/player/coach/mascot/etc. we lash out, as if that hatred will rectify the sin we perceived in the first place. Penn State fans of all fans should be especially sensitive to this situation. It was not all that long ago that a Sandusky stone brought down the fragile glass house image of a perfect Penn State. The world is not perfect. The coaches aren’t perfect. The players aren’t perfect. Neither are the referees, reviewers, sportscasters, bloggers and message board trolls. So go ahead. Throw that stone. Just don’t complain when it shatters something that you didn’t expect to break.

So what stones should I throw today?

Why did we mismanage 1:28 on the clock before the half, essentially squandering a scoring opportunity when the score was a mere 7-6 advantage? We cannot run the ball. We have not run the ball. All year. This game was no exception. Yet with three time outs and a chance to get into field goal range, we chose to . . . wait for it . . . RUN. THE. BALL. We ran the time off the clock so we couldn’t score, and we even took a time out to make sure we got taking a knee correct.

This game was in doubt well into the fourth quarter. Seriously two plays separated this from a 3 point win versus a 17 point victory. A one-play 86 yard strike by Jahan Dotson, and a pick six by Ji’Ayir Brown. Take just those two plays off the board and I would not have had any fingernails left by the time the clock ran out.

The all time series between these two teams has Penn State a prohibitive favorite, leading 41-3-1. The Terps have beat us only three times in the history of college football! And, quite frankly, one of those losses was last year! Losing to Maryland is not a habit you want to encourage!

Penn State actually dropped a spot on the AP poll to 23, a spot that they share on the coaches poll. Wake Forest dropped out of the top ten after losing to UNC. The Spartans dropped three slots on both polls after their first loss of the year–to Purdue. The three O’s (Oregon, Oklahoma and Ohio State) are still jockeying for position in that last who’s in spot.

Michigan looms on the horizon for Penn State. A white out game. More specifically a mostly white out with a helmet stripe of blue on the fifty yard line. A noon kickoff at Beaver Stadium. Will we be ready?????

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Colum-Busted

Coming up with a pithy title for each game is sometimes the hardest part of blogging. The rest just kind of flows, like the Force within Luke. This is what you got. Check my flow, uh.

And while it was certainly not the BUST we expected, it was still a loss, leaving us bloggers to sort through the broken pieces and ashes of what had been a promising season just a month ago, trying to find answers and portents of the future.

This was not the same team that folded against Illinois in NINE over times.

But in many ways, it was the same old, same old. Same shit, different sideline.

We cannot run the ball. We knew that was a problem. Has been a problem. Aside from the occasional Saquon blip, it is becoming a standard of Franklin coached Penn State teams. The lack of a ground game is glaring when the QB is not able to run.

Is it the offensive line? The running backs?

Who is going to put the R back into the RPO?

This team demonstrated a lot of heart and moxie on Saturday night albeit in a losing effort. A 33-24 loss is actually pretty respectable giving the starting point of being 23 and a half point underdogs to THE mighty suckeyes. And if not for a few bad breaks–a fumble scoop and score by THE Ohio D, and a general plethora of turn overs that were uncharacteristic of this team coming into this game, the result might have been even closer. Many fans were expecting a repeat of 2013 when THE team from Columbus smashed us 63-14 amid a flurry of Bill O’Brien ill-fated fourth down attempts. James Franklin was not to be out done in that regard. Maybe it’s a Pennsylvania thing–had to watch the Steeler’s play an entire half of football without a placekicker due to a head scratching fake field goal call that not only blew up and scored no points, but saw Boswell sidelined with a concussion. But I digress.

Aside from the loss, it was actually a fun game to watch, and the outcome was still in doubt up until late in the fourth quarter. Kudos to the men in white. The good guys.

It was a good loss as opposed to a bad one. In the end, though, STILL a loss.

Is there hope for the rest of the season? Depends on what you are hoping for. I think we can hope for a bowl game in some obscure location that is not conducive to a “vacation.”

We might match up well with Michigan. We do have the home field advantage in that one, and let’s face it. If there’s a coach out there that can go toe to toe with James Franklin in mismanaging game day calls, I think that would have to be Hairball, um Harbaugh.

I’m pretty sure we’re not going to win a game if we have to run the ball. I’m pretty sure we can’t rely on a long field goal to save any day. And our defense should keep us in all the remaining games. You know, despite giving up a ton of yardage on the ground to the Illini, we still only gave up 10 points in regulation. And the Suckeyes were averaging almost 50 points per game before we stifled them–and 7 of those points were scored by their D!

What exactly was that thing hanging on the back of his jersey? Is it a vanity license plate? A WWE belt buckle? Wide Load? Is that even legal to have that on the uniform?

Championship caliber defense with an intramural offense. No offense, offense. It can’t all be your fault. Seriously, how many offensive coordinators have we had under Franklin? With the exception of the 1994 team, Paterno coached teams were NEVER known for explosive offenses. Three yards and a cloud of dust. Hey diddle diddle. Run it up the middle. When was the last time we had a great offensive line? Hell, when was the last time we had a good offensive line?

We have talent. Have had talent. We just can’t seem to get said talent to reliably produce results on the gridiron on the offensive side of the field.

I thought early in the season that we turned a corner. I liked how things were progressing. The injury to Clifford obviously set us back. Decades. We might be bordering on dark ages. And it is just simply unfathomable that we don’t have any depth at the QB position, arguably the most important position on the team–both sides. But then you can ask how is that a pro team has no one else on the roster that can kick a football? So much head shaking, so little time.

Final conclusion: well played game with a few key mistakes on our part. But we played hard. Played tough. It just wasn’t meant to be.

VARIOUS OTHER THOUGHTS:

We managed to cling to a Top 25 ranking, coming in at 22 with three straight losses.

Villanova is still ranked 13th in the FCS Coaches Poll. Does anyone have a tougher schedule this year than Penn State?

Ohio State extended their win streak to 5 over us, leading the all-time series 22-14 (or 23-14 if you throw in the vacated game of 2010.) We have not won in COLUMBUS since Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue. No wait. Not so fast. NOT SO FAST! We won there in 2011. It just seems like we never win there. We will not beat them here or there. We will not beat them anywhere. We cannot beat them in a box. We cannot beat them with a Fox! The Scarlet and Gray have won 9 of the last ten, with the only loss in 2016 on the Kick Six. Tyler Durbin was super reliable inside of 40 yards. But that was not his night. And it is Franklin’s only win over the Columbus Scarlet Jackets.

LOOKING AHEAD:

The Lions travel to Maryland to take on the mighty Terrapins. 3:30 game start on FS1.

The season started out promising for the Terrapins after a big win over West Virginia in the opener. Undefeated until the played Iowa. Then three straight conference losses including one to Ohio State. I’m having de ja vu all over again! And PTSD!

These two teams have had eerily similar seasons. Penn State is picked to win by 10.5. In common opponents, they beat Illinois, but loss by more to THE Ohio team and Iowa.

It all depends which Penn State team shows up–the Illinois PSU or the Ohio State PSU. The latter will win this rather easily. The former–all bets are off! The win would make us bowl eligible, for whatever that’s worth–but the same can be said for the Terps!

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UNRAVELED

What in the wide, wide, bloody world of sports was that?!?!?

It sure as hell wasn’t the thrill of victory. No sir. It wasn’t the agony of defeat either. We witnessed a defeat in agony.

W. T. F.

I don’t even know where to begin? I’d like to say it left me speechless, but unfortunately I have a lot of speech to speak about this fiasco. And most of them autocorrect to DUCK. Seriously, autocorrect? Who says what the duck?!?!?! And you call yourself a “smart phone.” Smart my ass.

Blogging for me is usually a form of catharsis. We don’t need catharsis after that. We need an exorcism! And maybe an enema. Get rid of that shit forever!

As I walked out of the morgue, um the stadium, the PA announcer blared “We hope you had an enjoyable afternoon at Beaver Stadium.”

Seriously?!?!?! I mean: SERIOUSLY ?!?!?!?!? Shut up you! Stifle Edith!

Just what part was freaking enjoyable? Watching your team play like a high school team on a college field? And a not very good high school team at that! Watching a team at one time ranked 4th in the nation (can we say, OVER-RATED now) lose to an unranked 2-5 team (now 3-5) that they were picked to beat by more than 23 points! Christ Almighty! Lord and Savior! We weren’t even CLOSE! Or maybe it was enjoying the competent officiating we’ve all come to know and love in the Big Ten. Good grief, it was so bad, I’m not sure who really benefitted from that maelstrom of yellow flags. I swear they just started throwing them late in the game and then checked their magic eight ball to see what they were going to call. Was that an ineligible receiver downfield or was it offensive pass interference? We may never know! I’m not sure the refs know. And there’s really no point to ever review anything. They still can’t seem to get it right better than 50% of the time. I swear they just flip a coin.

We were not prepared. And we had TWO DUCKING WEEKS TO PREPARE FOR THIS! This travesty against football came after a BYE week! I hope to God we were looking ahead to Ohio State because if we weren’t we have nothing to look for ahead. Next week is going to be a blood bath. A very scarlet blood bath.

The coaching staff should be ashamed of themselves. There are very few times I come away embarrassed to be a Penn State fan but that was an EMBARRASSMENT. A DISGRACE. AN EPIC FAIL. MY CAP LOCK IS STUCK.

Illinois dominated us. Period. No sugar coating. This wasn’t about PJ Mustipher not being able to play. One man does not make a defense, any more than one QB makes an offense. Clifford was clearly not 100% and it appeared we wasted running backs and tight ends trying to protect him when they should have been part of the offensive game plan.

I never dreamed our defense would collapse so badly. The Illini ripped off chunks of yardage like someone with diarrhea tearing off squares of toilet paper. We still don’t have enough! More! Wad up that yardage and wipe away Penn State’s season. Flush it down the toilet.

Someone on the Illini offensive brain trust apparently saw a weakness on our left side and seemed to run the ball that way all day at will. We never adjusted. And for whatever reason, they abandoned that in over time or we could have gone home a lot sooner.

NINE over times. It was as if neither team wanted to win. We couldn’t run the ball all game yet insisted on running the ball in OT. They couldn’t pass the ball all day, yet seemed hell bent to win on the pass. They eventually did. More obstinate than we were. There’s probably a mathematical theorem to explain that but it baffles me. I really think both offensive coordinators out-thinked themselves too much. But really, how much thought goes into a 10-10 tie in regulation and NINE over times?

Nine over times makes college football history. Yes. We were a part of history today. Like Napoleon at Waterloo. Or the Germans when they bombed Pearl Harbor.

And why–with over four minutes left on the clock and possession of the ball, did we play for the tie?!?!!? WHY?!?!? Answer me that! Granted, Stoudt isn’t terribly accurate beyond, oh, maybe the twenty yard line, but why not try to get into field goal range and at least try to kick a field goal? Did we have that little faith in our defense that we just settled to run out the clock and go to OT?

I hate this new OT. Nothing but two point conversions after the second OT???? Who’s ducking brilliant idea was that?!?!? Perhaps our biggest offensive weakness outside of not having a running game–and perhaps because we have no running game–is our short yardage game. Especially at the goal line. We were doomed once we failed to win in the first two over times!

And the weather kind of sucked too.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Pick a number. Any number. It probably favors the Illini. Except for passing yards, they out performed us in nearly every category. They even had more turn-overs–3-0. Not that we could capitalize on any of them.

We were shut out in the second half.

The Illini had almost 360 yards in rushing. Read that again. We have played teams like Wisconsin and Auburn. You won’t find a damning stat like that in any of those games. No we saved up our best suckage of the year for this game. Welcome Home alumni.

And while the Illini went 50% on third down conversions (9 of 18), Penn State managed a paltry 4 of 17. 24%? Give or take a suck or two. Because of this, they nearly had double the first downs that we managed.

105,001 fans my ass. Stop bragging about tickets sold. You have every seat counted at the gate electronically. Just tell us how many of us there are. It wasn’t close to a 100,000. Hell, half the students didn’t even show up for this mess. Or at least give us both numbers: tickets sold and fans that actually showed up. Inquiring minds want to know.

INTANGIBLES:

Penn State won the toss and deferred. We lost the toss in the first OT.

Drum Major made both flips. The Alumni Band was enthusiastic and inimitable as always.

Penn State still leads the all-time series 20-6. But this travesty was one of those six. I’m still shaking my head in disbelief.

Franklin’s name has been bantered about for the USC and now LSU job. I’m guessing he’s coached his way off both those lists at this point. Yeah Us. I’m not so sure.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

Future is hazy. Ask again later.

As if I even care anymore. IF we make it to a bowl game–and I’m not sure we can beat Rutgers at this point–it will likely be a bottom tier bowl in mid December.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Seriously? We have to travel to Columbus to face the Buckeyes 7:30 next Saturday. Be prepared. Liquor up ahead of time. You can probably go to bed at the half. Maybe I’m over-reacting, but that’s how I see it right now. We didn’t show up for this game. Why expect them to show up next week?

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Bye Week Blues and More . . .

Penn State survived the bye week without dropping on either poll–coming in at 7th on the AP poll and 9th on the Coaches Poll.

Of course the Penn State of this season still rests on the health of one starting quarterback, fondly known as Sean Clifford, the Big Blue Lion. Details of his injury are sketchy and speculative, and the date of his return are sketchier yet.

Our future path would look something like this on an Etch-A-Sketch . . .

And to make losing our starting quarterback and the Iowa game even worse, the Hawkeyes got the proverbial #2 kicked out of them by Purdue. (A Purdue fan apparently twitterpated or instasnapped that pithy synopsis but I really like it.)

Unfortunately, as amusing as this Iowa loss to Purdue was (24-7 if you didn’t know!) you could insert Penn State into most of those memes the day after we lost to the Hawkeyes. The loss, a bittersweet karma, dropped the Hawkeyes to 11th place on both polls.

The AP top 4 now has Georgia, Cincinnati, Oklahoma and guess who—Alabama. Cincinnati only plays one more ranked team (SMU currently at 21st.) And while Bama and the Bulldogs will play each other at some point in all likelihood–Georgia should cruise and Alabama just has to get past Auburn– it is certainly foreseeable that one losing to the other wouldn’t necessarily drop the loser out of the playoff! Oklahoma does have some tough games left –Oklahoma State and Baylor. That might open the door for a Big Ten team to creep in. Contrast that with the road Penn State has to travel: Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State–all ranked in the top ten and only Michigan is at home. All of these teams have to play each other in the coming weeks.

But first, we have Illinois!

Homecoming at Beaver Stadium. A nooner start.

The opening line is 23-24 points favoring the Nittany Lions.

The New Mascot of Illinois
But this is what that reminds me of

Illinois is 2-5 with a surprising week one win over Nebraska, 30-22. Seven games later they have only one more win, over Charlotte. The secret apparently didn’t lie with Charlotte.

If Clifford doesn’t play, which I think is probably a real possibility–even if he could play it might be prudent to rest him for the next game. I know. I know. 1-0. Whatever. We should be able to beat the Illini with a back-up quarterback. I don’t think we stand a chance against the Buckeyes with what we saw in Iowa City during the second half.

GO STATE! BEAT ILLINI!

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Sweep the Quarterback

I’m late as usual posting this recap. I’m a doctor. I’m always running late. Read some blog articles from 2002 in my waiting room while you wait.

I actually was going to walk away. Completely. Stop blogging forever. I’ve been doing this for over 22 years now. It could be longer but I distinctly remember blogging in 1999 when Penn State defeated Miami on a late touchdown, Kevin Thompson to Chafie Fields.

I started on some platform called Xoom. At some point I blogged on Blogger, and ultimately wound up here. For a brief period of time I blogged on Penn Live, creating the 50-Yard Lion Blog.

And while this loss was one of the most painful I have ever suffered through–losing to Iowa 6-4 in 2004 and then in 2008 on a last second field goal set up by a phantom PI when we were undefeated and ranked #3 come quickly to mind–which reminds me that Iowa is one of those teams–who hasn’t won a national championship since 1960 (pre-modern era–hell Pitt claims tons of championships from back when they kept score on stone tablets!) and has not outright won a Big Ten title (i.e. has not shared a title) since 1958! They are not a team that wins championships; they are the thorn in other team’s seasons to keep them from winning! But I digress and the sentence structure and run-on rambling of this paragraph is enough to give an English teacher a seizure!

Where was I? Oh, this may not have been the most painful loss I have suffered through but it is in the Top 5 for sure. And I don’t care what you think about playing the what if game . . . we don’t know if Penn State would have won if Clifford had stayed healthy. Bull shit. The Penn State offense was putting the vaunted Iowa D to shame. We gave them a pick and prime field position and they were still down 17-3 at the half. Sure Clifford might have thrown some more picks, but he also would have moved the ball and would have scored more points. And maybe Iowa would have adjusted. It won’t happen, but put Kirk Ferentz on a polygraph and ask him who he thinks would have won that game if Clifford had not been unable to return.

Iowa dodged a bullet.

Speaking of dodging a bullet, I was going to walk away from blogging because this loss was just the straw that broke this Lion’s back. Amidst the stress in my own life, personal and financial, this was just too much to bear. But after sulking all day Sunday and watching the Steelers (who maddeningly wear the same colors as the Iowa Hawkeyes) actually win a game, I thought I would throw a few more thoughts out there.

Like this is a touchdown?

How can you review that and conclude that is a score. What part of the Iowa players body is actually IN BOUNDS???? Yes, he hits the magic pylon. But not with the ball! At least Indiana’s QB hit the pylon WITH the ball albeit out of bounds last season. This is simply ridiculous!

Don’t cite me any obscure rule interpretations. IF a player is actually in the field of play, and extends a hand across the goal line–but not the ball–that is NOT a touchdown. Swiping at the pylon as you go out of bounds is NOT a touchdown unless the football is in that hand. The Big Ten refs are a joke!

There was some kind of perverse incongruity in the Iowa fan base. They all wave to the kids in the hospital, then boo injured players (repeatedly) on the field. One fan was caught on camera mocking a shoulder injury. Even one of their coaches flopped to the ground in mockery. It was like some futuristic bizarro world out there.

The loss dropped the Lions to #7, while Iowa’s gift “earned” them a number 2 spot. At least we weren’t Alabama!

But look who also crept back up the charts. Our old nemesis. THE ohio statey buckeyes. #6.

Undefeated seasons, are not uncommon–in most years there are usually one or two teams that emerge unscathed. But multiple clean seasons? Penn State has had 5 since 1968, which is actually one more than Alabama over the same time period. And while there is a lot of football yet to played this year–and plenty more opportunities to see this team lose, it is disheartening to lose one that just slipped through our grasp.

My kingdom for a backup quarterback!

The impact of the transfer of Will Levis is quite apparent. I’m not going to criticize Robeson. He did his best in less than ideal circumstances. Very hostile environment to play in. I did feel the coaches failed him at not correcting the false start problems sooner, but in the end, those penalties really didn’t matter. When he did have the opportunity to make a play, the receivers dropped the ball or Iowa’s defense made the play. And our defense needed to hold them to just one more field goal. Just one more time. Soooo close.

But it was not meant to be.

Football imitates life.

Sometimes they both suck.

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