Hawkeye Game is Foul Play

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.

IOwaCorn

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.

EatMoreHawkeyes

 

Shout outs:

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.

Call Outs:

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.

Friermuth

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!

INTANGIBLES:

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.

IowaSober

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.

LOOKING AHEAD:

THEM.

The-M.  The Big Block M.  They are all that and a bag of chips.  Too sexy for their helmets.

MFan

Michigan Fans ARE special.

The Wolverines are 5-1 and ranked #16 in both polls.

MichiganSchedule

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.

StateFarmWolverine

Harbaugh:  “You keep those khakis packed, James Franklin!”

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!

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The Fast and the Victorious

I toyed with titling this episode, The Fast and the Inglorius, but in the end, we were victorious 35-7.

But 28 of those points were scored quickly in just the first 16 minutes of play.  FAST.

Not until Noah Cain (did they say NO GAIN?  NOVACAINE?) ran for two yards with 5:44 left on the clock in the fourth did the Lions add another point to their explosive start.  Is the further lack of stomping on Purdue inglorious?  Who knows?

What happened between then and there?

I think one factor was the interception thrown by Clifford in the second period.  From that point on, it seemed like things changed.  My friend pointed out that we didn’t throw any more crossing routes over the middle like we did last week versus Maryland, and in the early scoring frenzy of this rout.  It was as if Joe Paterno took over the play calling from Ricky Rahne and we went into a prevent offense mode.  Well, maybe not that bad, but the whole feng shui of the offense changed from that point, and not for the better.

Another factor could be the weather.  The wind seemed to be swirling a bit and gusty at times.  I sit in the North End Zone, and the only score in that end zone was a short drive when the Lions failed to finish things up at the end of the first quarter at the other end of the field.  Even our field goal attempt that was missed happened at the North end.

Now it seemed to me as if the wind was blowing into the North End zone (into my face), and traditional football logic is that favors passing teams to play with the wind, but neither team seemed to move the ball northward very well.  Most of the game seemed to be played on the other side of the fifty.

Whatever fire was lit in the first quarter, died in the second, and Noah Cain’s 27 yard-bust up the gut that set up his 2 yard TD run late in the fourth was but a glowing spark from the dying fire.

No matter which half of the game you over-analyze the offense, the defense played another suffocating game against a mid-lower tier Big Ten opponent, playing without their starting QB and wide receiver.

Iowa next week will be our biggest test to date (although Pitt somehow managed to survive a Duke comeback and still win) and I am looking forward to seeing how we handle the Hawkeyes who were only able to put up 3 points in the Big House.

In a way, I’m happy we didn’t continue to roll over Purdue 56-0.  Our kicking miscues (missed FG and kick out of bounds) demonstrate some areas to work on.  Punting returns are still adventurous, but mostly because teams won’t chance kicking directly to KJ.  And our offense needs to continue working on some consistency.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Another week of pick a number, any number, and it probably favors Penn State.

PurduePete

Purdue managed only 104 total yards and that includes -19 yards rushing.  MINUS 19.

Penn State won time of possession 33:38 to 26:22.  Still probably means nothing.

Purdue converted just one of 15 third down attempts, and 0-1 fourth down attempts.

INTANGIBLES:

The official attendance was 106,536.

Penn State is 72-23-5 in Homecoming games.

PSUtrumpets

Penn State leads the series over the Boilermakers 15-3-1.

The Drum Major stuck both flips.  The Alumni Band performed with their usual indomitable spirit.

Tommy Stevens was among the Alumni who returned to Happy Valley.

Penn State moved up 2 pots on both polls (AP/Coaches) to 10/9 respectively.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

The Buckeyes avoided a third straight loss to the Spartans, but were rattled a little bit early on.  They get some separation late in the second quarter,taking a 27-10 lead into the half.  The final score was 34-10 with only 7 points coming in the second half.  Didn’t we just read a bout another team that did the same?  At home?  Weird, huh?

At the Big House, THEM scored just three points off four turn-overs, but still won 10-3 over the Hawkeyes in Ann Arbor.

Wisconsin shut out Kent State, winning 48-0.

Maryland rebounded against Rutgers 48-7.  Not a good start for the Scarlet Knights interim head coach Nunzio Campanile.

Minnesota blasted the Illini 40-17.

And Nebraska kicked a FG as time expired to beat Northwestern 13-10.

MEANWHILE . . . 

In Durham . . . Pitt squandered a 26-3 lead and found themselves behind 30-26 with 1:29 left in the game.  But those pesky panthers weren’t done.  Pitt scored with 38 seconds still remaining to upset the Duke Blue Devils 33-30.

In South Bend . . . Notre Dame cruised past Bowling Green 52-0.  Ian Book threw for 5 touchdowns.  Is he any relation to Mac Book?  Does he use a Surface too?

In the Swamp . . . 10 Florida defeated #7 Auburn 24-13.

And in Cincinnati . . . the Bearcats hand the previously ranked UCF Knights their second loss, 27-24.

LOOKING AHEAD:

The Lions head to Iowa for a prime time game with the Hawkeyes.

IowaSchedule

From ESPN

So with no common opponents, what can we say?

I think the key to this game is whether or not we can score against the Hawkeye defense, and avoid costly turn-overs (don’t pay more than $1.50 for the apple ones!)  Iowa is generally well coached.  Their atmosphere will be electric.  The sick kids in the hospital over looking the stadium will be rooting for Iowa.  But I really think our defense will keep the Hawkeyes off the board for the most part.  In teams with a pulse, Iowa scored 18 versus Iowa State and 3 against the wolverines.  I don’t see them scoring 18 against us, but they have not allowed more than 17 points to anyone yet.  I think that will change, but I have less confidence in our offense than our D at this point in the season,and I think it is generally more difficult for offenses on the road than defenses.

I saw one line with Penn State as a 3.5 point favorite.

GO STATE!  BEAT HAWKS!

 

 

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When They Bring the Black, We Bring the White

As a fan that tends to stay until the last second ticks off the clock, I am rather amazed at the number of times we go on the road to play teams, and by the end of the game, our fans take over the opponent’s stadium, outnumbering their fans.  Perhaps this has happened in Beaver Stadium at some point in time, but no game that I can remember.

I saw where one sportswriter guesstimated the number of PSU fans in the stadium at about a third.  By the fourth quarter, that percentage was probably closer to 90%. IT’s hard to be sure.  A Black Out at night looks like night.

MDblackout

But we didn’t just dominate the stadium.  We dominated the game.  We were the game.

My friend who has followed Penn State football for years made the comment that the first half of the Maryland game was the best offensive half of football in the James Franklin era.  And while the offense was certainly clicking on all cylinders, the defense played a huge role as well, keeping the Terrapins off the scoreboard the entire game.

The Lions first score, an 8 yard scamper into the end zone by Clifford, was set up by a Jan Johnson interception and a couple of Maryland penalties on the play.  The Lions never looked back. They went on to pile up 619 yards of offense and 59 points, while the stingy Lion defense allowed Maryland only 60 rushing yards.

Clifford did throw a pick, but quite frankly it was a phenomenal defensive play that survived a review as well.  Maryland couldn’t capitalize on the turn-over, looking even worse than the Steelers who managed to lose a game after recovering 5 turn-overs!

Micah Parsons was ejected for an ill-advised hit on the Maryland QB–wasn’t helmet to helmet but he launched himself like a Saturn V rocket.  It happened in the first quarter, so he won’t miss time next week.  The defense played as if he were still there.  Hopefully he will learn from the mistake and be better for it moving forward.

I had no problem leaving Champs (in Altoona) at the end of the game, but finding a parking space at 7:30 just before kick-off was a quest worthy of Shrek and Donkey.  Alas, I only had my ass with me and ended up at Cracker Barrel, where they not only wouldn’t serve me alcohol with a valid ID, but they had no television to watch the game!

But, if Penn State were in charge of the Champs parking, I’d have been diverted through Duncansville, into Hollidaysburg, down Convention Center Boulevard, and required to park at Wal-Mart, from whence I would be bused to Champs.  The bus would have to get on I-99 and get off at 17th Street, and travel the entire way up Pleasant Valley Boulevard and Plank Road, stopping at every traffic light.  Twice. It really was quicker to walk from Cracker Barrel.  But I digress.

DISH dropped Fox-Sports, FS1/FS2 and the Big Ten, leaving many fans without coverage for the game.  I’m pretty sure this is part of the new parking and traffic flow (or lack thereof) plan implemented by Penn State.  Just kidding.  Sort of.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Pick a number, any number.  It probably favors Penn State.

619 offensive yards to 128 for the Terps.  Wow.  Just wow.  Where did this come from?

TerpFan

She can’t believe it either!  And that was early in the game!

30 first downs for PSU to 10 for UMD.

Maryland had ONE kick off.  That’s just funny right there.

We won time of possession by 7 minutes, gave up NO sacks, and went an amazing 9 for 13 on third down conversions (up till now we were one of the worst in Division 1 football in 3rd down conversion rates!)

Okay, okay.  Maryland had more penalties and more turn-overs than PSU, so they have something to hang their helmets on there.

INTANGIBLES:

University Park beat College Park in the Parks & Recreation League.

Trace McSorley was in the house, rooting the Nittany Lions on.

The salt and pepper crowd was 53,228, the fewest to watch PSU in person so far this year.  Of course, it was our first away game and the Big Ten Opener for both teams.

Penn State DOMINATES this series 40-2-1.  But even more impressive are the last four games, where PSU has won 38-14, 66-3, 38-3, and 59-0.  That’s a total score of 201-20, and Maryland has not scored a touchdown in the last three games.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

For as much as PSU dominated Maryland on the road, so did the Buckeyes and Justin Fields-of Dreams dominate the hapless Cornhuskers in Lincoln.  The final score was 48-7.  We can debate all we want about whether Maryland is better than Nebraska–probably not, but the season is still early–but it definitely looks like there could be a BIG showdown in Columbus late in the season.  November 23rd to be exact.  Lot of football to be played before then, but I’m just throwing this out there now.  Because I can.

The-M manhandled Rutgers 52-0.  That’s like defeating Our Ladies of the Blessed Sacrament, but we’ll throw the wolverines a bone on this one.  Good job not Mucking that one up, Harbaugh.

The Spartans struggled against the Hoosiers, needing a FG on their last offensive play to edge ahead 34-31.  But wait, wasn’t the final score 40-31?  It was.  Those pesky little Hoosiers tried to lateral their way down the field on the ensuing kick-off with 5 seconds remaining on the clock–but fumbled.  MSU scooped and scored to make the score look deceptively less embarrassing.

Iowa defeated the middle of Tennessee 48-3.  I see another BIG showdown on the horizon in Iowa City, again a road game for the Nits.

Da Badgers struggled a bit with Northwestern early on, but got their game going in the right direction (would that be Southeastern then?) to pull away in the fourth and secure a 24-15 win.

Purdue was apparently caught looking ahead to their game at Beaver Stadium next weekend.  The Boilermakers scored 14 points in the fourth but their comeback was not enough, as the Gophers won 38-31 in West Lafayette.

MEANWHILE . . . 

In North Carolina . . . the Tar Heels went for two in a bid to upset #1 Clemson, but came up short, losing 21-20.  What was Mack Brown thinking????  Play for a tie at home, for the win on the road.  Did he forget where he was?  Of course, had it worked–I thought the particular play call was bad anyway, even if you argue they had momentum and might not outlast Clemson’s depth in OT–he would have been a hero.  It was not to be.

In Pittsburgh . . . with a stadium that had as many Pitt fans throughout the game as Maryland had late in the third quarter . . . the mighty Panthers drove 90 yards to beat the Delaware Blue Hens 17-14.  Thank you for not messing up our strength of schedule any further.

In Philadelphia . . . Temple beat Georgia Tech 24-2.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Next week is Homecoming for Penn State.  They will host the Boilermakers in another noon clash.  You might want to set your alarm and head out at 4 am.  I hear they are having some specials at Wal-Mart so traffic on Atherton will be fierce!

PurdueSchedule

From ESPN

Oddsshark has Penn State as an 11 point favorite early on.  That line is now 28 points, with a predicted score of 45-11.

I’m sorry.  But when I think of Purdue, this is what I think of . . .

PurdueChicken

Or a Boilermaker . . .

Boilermaker

GO STATE!  BEAT BOILERS!

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Tuesday Todds & Ends

Where did the weekend go?

Not only is not the weekend anymore, but it’s not even Monday.  I fully planned on recapping the bye week for Penn State–well, not Penn State so much as the rest of the Big Ten–but good Lord, it’s Tuesday already!

And we have a game on FRIDAY!

FridayNight

Holy Crap!

“THE” BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

So in case you missed it, Michigan (“THEM”, as in The-M) fell to the Badgers 35-14 and let’s be honest here–it wasn’t even that close.  The Wolverines first score came in the second half after 30 yards in unsportsmanlike penalties and 2 ejections for targeting by the Badgers.  Their trip to Camp Randall was more like a camp counselor’s trip to Camp Crystal Lake.

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes rolled Miami (OH) 76-5.  Yeah, but what could you do against Idaho?  Huh?  Huh?  There was a fumble in the end zone that gave the Redhawks a safety, so they had that going for them.

Indiana crushed UConn 38-3 and it wasn’t in basketball.

The Spartans rebounded with a 31-10 win over Northwestern.  Dantonio’s face remained unchanged.  Is the man even alive?  OK.  He’s a zombie.

The Cornhuskers outlasted the Illini 42-38.

And then there was Rutgers.  The big R managed a brilliant loss to Boston College 31-16.

MEANWHILE . . . 

In Georgia, the Bulldogs beat the Irish in a nail biter, 23-17.

In Pittsburgh, the Panthers upset 15th ranked UCF, and handed the Knights their first regular season loss since November of 2016.

In Buffalo, the Bulls beat Temple 38-22.  See below.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Penn State heads to College Park Maryland for a Friday Night Lights game with the Terrapins.  Is that exciting or what?  I’d go with or what.

My God, our out team isn’t ready to play at noon on a Saturday.  How in the name of Mother Mary and Joseph V.  Paterno are they going to be ready to play on a Friday Night????

The Terps absolutely beat the duck out of Howard, 79-0 in their opening game.  They followed this with an impressive performance over then ranked #21 Syracuse, crushing the Orange 63-20 and taking the AP #21 spot for themselves.  This era of good feelings didn’t last long for the turtles, though, as Temple (the very same Temple that lost to Buffalo) defeated them 20-17 the following week.  No rank for you!

The Lions are at 12/11 on the AP/Coaches polls.  The spread favors the Lions by 7 currently.

Maryland is having a black out this Friday night.  (They forgot to pay the electric bill!)  Think white out only black.  But according to one PSU fan with extra time on his hands this past weekend, we have nothing to fear . . .

Since the tradition began in 2005:

  • The blackout has never featured two ranked teams
  • Maryland is 0-1 playing in the blackout as a ranked team (2008, Loss to FSU 37-3)
  • Maryland is 0-7 playing in the blackout VS a ranked team
  • Maryland is 2-4 when both teams enter the match up outside the AP top 25
  • Maryland is 2-5 in night game blackout games
  • Overall Maryland is just 2-12 in blackout games since the tradition began
UMTurtle

What they think they are . . . .

UMTurtle2

What they really are!

GO STATE!  BEAT TERPS!

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The Pitt and The (Beaver) Stadium

Edgar Allen Poe wrote a short story, The Pit and the Pendulum, about a man being tortured during the Spanish Inquisition.  No one expects the Inquisition!  The Pitt Panthers were tortured, indeed, inside Beaver Stadium, even wreaking pain upon themselves as well!

SpanishInquisition

The last foreseeable game in the series, and their last hope to BEAT Penn State at football, disappeared in one of the ugliest wins I have ever witnessed at Beaver Stadium.

What in the wide, wide world of effing sports was that?

This was ugly all around.  The traffic was apparently ugly–for some.  The weather was ugly.  It was the first regular season weather delayed game I have ever attended.  I’ll rant on that in a moment.  Betcha just can’t wait!  The Pitt players were”chippy”, as described by the analyst who sits behind me now.  Stepping on KJ Hamler’s leg was just one item submitted as evidence.  The officiating was horrible.  Not seeing it on TV I can’t comment on the reviewed calls, but even the calls on the field were bad–as were the non-calls.  The final score was ugly, but not as ugly as a loss for Penn State would have been.

The coaching was poor on both sides of the ball.  Neither coaching staff appeared to want to win this game.  It was awful on both sides, but perhaps the worst was Narduzzi’s decision to kick a field goal, down 7 late in the game.  What?!? You still have to score a TD to win, bonehead!  There’s a running joke on our bowling team, when a player misses an easy spare–or sometimes jokingly when they miss a difficult split–we ask, “Don’t you want to win?”  Didn’t Narduzzi want to win?

I’m glad he didn’t go for it, for the way the day seemed to be going (the day after Friday the 13th and a FULL MOON) they probably would have scored, gone for two and made it, and completely ruined my weekend.  Thank you, Pat, for not ruining my weekend.

As it was, the goal line stand and subsequent missed field goal left the Lions with a lead of 7 with minutes left in the game.  But with a third and four play and a potential first down winning the game, we heave the ball downfield as if we have to score, and end up punting the ball right back to Narduzzi and his merry bunch of Pittsters. Don’t we want to win?  Somehow we survived.

And speaking of survival, what is with the lightning delay?  First of all, I did not see so much as a twinkle of lightning, nor did I hear even a hint of thunder.  Apparently the NCAA has a STRICT rule which basically says this:

If lightning strikes within 15 miles of a stadium, on-field officials are notified. When a strike happens within 10 miles of the stadium, on-field officials are notified and a public address announcement is made recommending fans to seek shelter. A strike within six miles or less of a stadium prompts players and officials to get off the field and the game is delayed until 30 minutes after the last strike occurs within six miles.

Has anyone ever heard of people being killed or seriously injured by a lightning strike on a stadium?  (Or has anyone ever known anyone to blow themselves up talking on a cell phone while pumping gas?  I’m sorry, that is a rant for another day and another blog.)

I tried to Google this and failed to uncover a report of a single college stadium that has ever been hit by lightning and resulting in death or dismemberment.  I did find one allegation in the African state of Congo where a football team (probably soccer) was struck and killed.

But . . .

FOOTBALL FANS in the central African state of Congo were hurling accusations of witchcraft at each other yesterday after a freak blast of lightning struck dead an entire team on the playing field while their opponents were left completely untouched.

So that’s very scientific right there.

I found a report where a baseball stadium (Cincinnati Reds) was struck during a game–a light tower was hit–but the report failed to mention if anyone was actually hurt by the strike.  I would think if an entire section of fans had been fried, that would have been mentioned.  It was not.  Perhaps I assume too much.

While the stadium has a lot of steel, the seats are aluminum which is not a conductor, and most of it is concrete.  And grounded.

I was already in the stadium when they closed the gates.  I sat in my seat.  I survived.  I did have to use my defibrillator several times, but that was not due to weather, but from James Franklin trying to kill me.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Probably the key stat there is the 24 yards that Pitt managed to rack up on 25 carries.  Again, as we have seen many times before, the time of possession skews heavily in favor of the opposition, but total yardage was pretty close.  As was the final score.

Jordan Stout booted a 57-yarder through the uprights for a field goal to set the new Beaver Stadium record, previously held by Chris Bahr (55 yards, 3 times.)

INTANGIBLES:

Penn State won the toss and deferred.

The Blue Band did not perform for pre-game, presumably due to wet weather and the distinct possibility of being struck by Zeus.  I seem to recall from mythology he did not like Sousaphones, but preferred lyres and pan-pipes.

The all-time series is 53-43-4.  I hope we never play them again.

The announced attendance was 108,661.  The stripe-out looked pretty good, even with the rainy weather.

The BIG (10) PICTURE:

The Buckeyes blasted Indiana 51-10.  The Wolverines and Wisconsin had a bye.  They play each other next week.  How convenient!  Rutgers had a bye week also, but nobody noticed.  I think they might have lost anyway.

Iowa squeaked past Iowa State 18-17.  The Gophers barely beat Georgia Southern (who beat Tennessee previously) 38-35 in a shootout.

Northwestern defeated UNLV 30-14.

But then the Big Ten got all squirrelly.

Michigan State made a field goal, had it wiped off the board for too many men on the field, and then missed the second attempt to lose to Arizona State 10-7.  Dantonio’s face ( the I have an infected hemorrhoid expression) never changed.

The Illini lost to Eastern Michigan 34-31, while the Terrapins were upsot by Temple 20-17.  Maryland had been ranked #21.  Not any more.

And Purdue was soundly defeated by TCU 34-13.

Now don’t get me wrong–any of those teams that lost could still beat us if we don’t get our act together.  But for now, I’ll just pass along the misery, since it loves company.

Meanwhile . . . 

In Charlottesville . . . The Cavaliers handed F$U its second loss in 3 games.

In Atlanta . . . The Rambling Wreck of Georgia Tech lost to “THE” Citadel, 27-24 in OT.

Looking Ahead:

Bye week.

Bye, bye for now.

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Play Pitt or Not Play Pitt: Is there a question?

As Penn State prepares to play Pitt for the 100th time this coming Saturday, and perhaps for the last time for a long time to come, the question has been posed:  Should Penn State continue to play Pitt.

Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror is fine with not playing Pitt anymore.  Write this down . . . I agree with him on this one point.

He makes a compelling argument.

THAT rivalry is gone. It’s been gone for a long, long time. And it’s not ever coming back.

While the all-time series between these two teams is close– 52-43-4 with PSU having the edge, the Lions are 25-8-1 in the Joe Paterno and beyond era (since 1966.)  Doesn’t look like much of a rivalry there.  (Of course, Michigan leads the Ohio State rivalry 58-51-6, but the Wolverines have won only three games since 2000, and only one in the last 15 years.  But I digress.)

Pitt and Penn State do not typically go head to head any more recruiting 5* Pennsylvania talent.  And beating Pitt on a semi-regular basis would not improve local recruiting significantly.  Seriously, name me the last recruit that Penn State really wanted/needed, who chose Pitt over Penn State.  I’ll wait.

Playing Pitt every year would prevent Penn State from adding teams like Auburn, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.  It is almost impossible to schedule teams like Notre Dame or Alabama anymore.  Certainly not on a regular basis like we saw in the 1980’s.  Why should Pitt have preferential treatment over those other traditional rivalries that we grew up with?

Whether Pitt fans want to hear it or not, Pitt needs Penn State a whole lot more than Penn State needs Pitt.

Amen!

Nard Uzi

Enter Pat Narduzzi, like a third-rate thespian trying to poorly play the jester in an epic tragedy that he thinks is playing on Broadway, New York, but is really closer to Broad Avenue in Altoona.

These are some gems from his press conference:

Of course, we all want to play this game. Nobody — it’s just a close game. We’re going to jump on the bus on Friday, it’s close enough to get on a bus. We don’t have to go wait at an airport, don’t have to go through customs, we don’t have to do anything. We don’t have to empty our pockets. We jump on a bus and we go. So we certainly want to play that game.

But it doesn’t matter. And it’s a big game. It’s another game for us, but it’s a big game because it’s a rivalry game, in state. You know, again, I’m going to emphasize to our kids, you might be the last team to ever get to play this game. It might be. I don’t know if it’ll be played. I’m either going to be in a coffin or retired probably, so I don’t know which one it’ll be. Do you have any idea?

So it’s important to play this game so you can ride a bus?  (Cue:  The wheels on the bus go round and round.  Round and Round.  Round and Round.)

Don’t they take a bus from Oakland to Heinz field every week they play at home?  Does riding a bus make him feel more at home?  And we’ve already debunked the rivalry theory.  Man up!  You want a rivalry, win like it’s a rivalry!  You wouldn’t even have won three years ago if PSU wasn’t still recovering from sanctions and Trace wasn’t playing in like his second game ever as a starter.  And you almost lost that one!!

When asked how much of a desire there is to have a traditional rival on the schedule every year . . .

But we have rivalry games. We’ll make one. We’ll make one if we have to. Shoot, we made one back in the day when I was at Cincinnati. The River City Rivalry, wasn’t that what it was called, something like the River City Rivalry? We’ll make one up. We’ll get a trophy made, put a picture of Jerry on the trophy and go play.

I suppose Penn State fans shouldn’t throw stones at a glass stadium, given that the Big Ten fabricated a rivalry with Michigan State complete with a god awful trophy that looks like some woodshop class failure from high school, but seriously?  You want to attract recruits by making up a rivalry?  Not sure of the context, but who is Jerry?

Pitt football is a sad story.  A sad song.  Reminds me of a Barry Manilow song . . .

You know, Barry and I were real close in the 80’s.  But that was before Mandy came along.  And she came and she gave without taking, so I was kicked to the curb.

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Buffaloed

According to the Urban Dictionary, Buffaloed is a word that means to get fooled, manipulated or tricked by someone.

The Nittany Lions, coming off an impressive win over an unimpressive Idaho team, were nearly buffaloed Saturday night in prime time, give or take half an hour.  The pesky little bulls from up north came to play.  They tricked us into thinking they were an easy cupcake!

In what is becoming the signature game plan for the James Franklin era, the team came out of the gate stumbling, with no sense of urgency, and ultimately found themselves down 10-7 in the first half to a team that was arguably better than Idaho, but also very much arguably not as good as most if not all of the Big Ten teams on our schedule.  Buffalo did beat Rutgers last year, so they do have that going for them.

And then, as if it were scripted ahead of time, the Lions came out from the break and played, well, not impressively, but certainly much better than they had in the first half to win the game running away from the Bulls as if they were in Pamplona and their lives depended on it.  Their season, to a certain extent, did depend on it.

The defense provided the spark as John Reid intercepted a pass early in the third quarter and returned it to the house for a pick six.  The Lions never looked back.

Despite winning time of possession 42:36 to 17:24, the Bulls were held to a mere three points in the second half.  We can attribute this deceptive stat in large part to a bend but don’t break defense, but also in part to a quick strike and up tempo offense by the Lions.

Which was actually poetically justified, given that the 1994 Big Ten and Rose Bowl Champion Penn State team was honored at this game.  The ’94 defense spent a lot of time on the field because the offense scored so quickly.

But no Penn State fan will confuse the 2019 team for the 1994 team.  It is of some concern that the running game does not seem to be producing well.  But let’s look at this a little bit closer . . .

QuickStatsBuffalo

From gopsusports.com

Penn State only rushed for 78 yards.  The sky is falling!  We’re doomed.  We can’t even run on Buffalo.  Might as well forfeit all the Big Ten games right now!

But this was on only 24 attempts.  Not that this statistic is any better, but that means we gained only 3.3 yards per rush.  However, that is BETTER than Buffalo, who rushed for 184 yards albeit on 58 attempts for an average of 3.2 per rush!  Penn State is currently 11th in the country in yards per play (7.3.)  We may not run many plays, and they may be passing plays, but we make the most of what we do!

I’m also not a big fan of the running back-by-committee approach.  If you want to get something done–don’t form a committee.  Or a congress.  And I digress.  But I think that’s another reason why you’re not seeing big numbers being put up by the running backs.  One back needs to get a lot of touches to find a rhythm.  Even Ki Jana Carter and Saquon Barkley didn’t score on every play.

And while the offensive line seems to have trouble opening holes for the running backs, they do seem quite capable of holding off the past rush.  On the season there have been 3 sacks for a whopping loss of eleven yards.  And it appears that both Idaho and Buffalo chose to stack the box and stop the run.  Sean Clifford has come through in thwarting that scheme, but it remains to be seen if this will work against better defensive teams.

I, for one, was impressed with (and scared by) Buffalo.  They were a much better poised team than I expected.  A few better throws by their quarterback–he missed some very open receivers which concerns me more than the aforementioned apparent lack of a running game–and this game could have been a lot closer.  Their coaches had a much better game plan in the first half than we did, but they did not adjust in the second half as well as we did.  Their players played with a lot of heart, and by golly, I think they thought they could win up until the fourth quarter.

BY THE NUMBERS:

2-0.  Everything else doesn’t much matter at this point.

Buffalo had ZERO kick off returns.  All touch backs.  I’m sorry, but at the college level that is impressive for a kicker.  You would have thought his leg would have been tired from all the touch backs last week!

Sean Clifford is the fourth ranked passer in the country, according to this site.  I know.  I know.  Consider the competition.  The top ranked QB for the Sooners (Jalen Hurts) has beaten Houston and South Dakota.  Not exactly a resume to brag about either.  We sportswriters are all trying to predict the Powerball numbers at this point.  It’s even less of a crap shoot than a crap shoot.  It’s just crap.

Speaking of crap, Penn State is 13th in the AP Poll, and 11th in the Coaches Poll.  We’re ninth in the Sagarin Ratings, one spot below Central Florida!  And we’re 8th on this poll!  The computers love us!

INTANGIBLES:

Drum Major stuck both flips.

Alleged attendance was 104, 136.

Buffalo won the toss and took the ball.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

Penn State struggled for a half against Buffalo, but earlier in the day, the Mighty Wolverines took Army to double overtime before winning the game on a Black Knight fumble.  The final for that nail biter was 24-21.

The school formerly known as just Ohio State blanked Cincinnati 42-0.

Nebraska fell to Colorado 34-31 in OT.  So much for the Big Red Hype Machine.

Maryland crushed the 21st ranked Syracuse Orangemen 63-20.

Michigan State bested Western Michigan 51-17.

Iowa shut-out Rutgers 30-0, despite RutgersAl placing the Hawkeyes on upset alert.

Wisconsin defeated Central Michigan 61-0, although the Altoona Mirror printed that they won 17-0.  Damned, they were so close!!!

AltoonaMirrorMistake

Purdue rolled over Vanderbilt 42-24.The Illini came from behind to defeat UConn 31-23.  They overcame a 13 point deficit.  It was the first non-conference road win for Illinois in a dozen years.

Indiana went all Idaho over Eastern Illinois, winning 52-0.

The Gophers edged Fresno State in OT, 38-35.

Meanwhile . . .

In  Idaho . . . the mashed potatoes rebounded with a  41-31 win over Central Washington.

In Tennessee . . . the Volunteers are 0-2 after losing in OT to BYU.  They lost to Georgia State the previous week.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Pitt.

That’s it.

The final game of this miniseries.  PSU holds the all-time series edge at 52-43-4.

This will be the 100th game between these two schools.

The Panthers rebounded with a 20-10 win over Ohio, after losing to Virginia in their opener 30-14.

PittFootball

The line is currently around 17 points in favor of the home team.

Kick-off is set for noon at Beaver Stadium.

My sister is bringing my nephew–a one time Penn State fan who now goes to Pitt–to the game next week.  I don’t know where we went wrong.  She has already warned me that he will be wearing a Pitt shirt.  Stupid is as stupid does.  But when Penn State struggled in the first half she texted me that it could be a long ride home if Pitt wins next week because my nephew will surely rub it in.  I texted her back. . .

No.  It will be a long walk home for him.

GO STATE!  BEAT PITT!

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