Terrapinned

Who would have thought the Nittany Lions, struggling to defeat the likes of Rutgers just a mere week ago (whilst Maryland did their very best to upset Ohio State, but I guess their best wasn’t good enough) would showcase their best offensive scoring game since defeating the Illini back on September 21st, en route to making turtle soup out of the terrapins 38-3?  A question mark?  Well, it was a question that started a long time ago in a paragraph far far away.  But it’s more rhetorical anyway.

The Citizen’s Bank button this week read:  NO FEAR HERE.  An obvious reference to Fear the Turtle!  I admit it.  I was afraid!

FearTurtle

I did not have a good feeling coming into this game, and truth be told, it’s the first game I thought sure we might lose.  Yes, I thought we had a chance to upset Michigan.  We should have beaten both MSU and OSU, and probably a host of other letter SU’s.  But I feared we were regressing, especially on offense.  And while the seniors always want to go out with a win on their home turf, we know that is not always possible.  Maryland doesn’t care about Trace.  But they do care about going to a bowl.  Or they should.  Maybe they don’t.  Either way, this loss not only continued the domination PSU has in this all-time series, but it effectively ended the terrapins season, not being bowl eligible with only 5 wins.

The only thing bad about the day was the weather, and truth be told it was not that bad for me at least.  My seats are conveniently located underneath the North end zone upper deck, so while the rain continued to precipitate at the outset of the game, I only suffered minor water damage getting from the parking lot to my seat.  And I thought the Wisconsin game felt colder.  But I’m no Joe Murgo.  I’m more Les Nessman.  Eye witness news.  I witness the news, or in this case the weather.  Have you actually lasted this long reading as I go on and on about the freaking weather?  Rhetorical.  Don’t bother to answer.  Move on to the next paragraph, please.

So we racked up 565 yards of total offense, 38 points, averaged 7.0 yards per carry rushing and kicked a field goal in a pear tree.  Tis the season.

Miles Sanders still managed to cough the ball up again, but it didn’t lead to points for Maryland, my Maryland.

Trace McSorley led his team on senior day as he should.  Eighteen other players ran out of the tunnel in Beaver Stadium for the last time as well.  They are deserving of our praise and thanks.  I was listening to a radio show on the way home from the game, wherein the radio personalities were discussing how in 2011, most of the college football world left Penn State for dead.  Many thought it would be at least a decade before Penn State was relevant again.  Yet, in 2016-2018, here we are.  Thank you seniors!

While this season may not have lived up to my hopes and expectations, a 9-3 season is nothing to sneeze at.  It’s hypoallergenic.  And a third consecutive 10 win season is now achievable as well.  That is a feat that Penn State has not replicated since the 1980-82 seasons.

We have only to wait as teams above us duke it out in Championship games–I’m guessing about half those teams lose–and the margins of those losses and which teams lose will likely determine which bowl game Penn State plays in.  Good gravy, was that a worthless observation or what?  Of course those games are going to impact where we go and who we play.  Why wouldn’t they?  Why point that out?  I apparently have a season quota of rhetorical questions, and I am behind on reaching that quota.

Perhaps I will return with a preview of our stellar bowl match-up when we actually know what that match-up might be.

I’m not even going to delve into the rumors of USC firing their coach and going after James Franklin.  Fake news!  Nothing to see here, folks.  Move on to the next site on the interwebs.

But I will leave you with this puzzle.

Is the Maryland Terrapin mascot a woman?

I ask this in all seriousness.  At one point, Testudo (the actual name of the terrapin turtle mascot) was heckling a couple Penn State players on the sideline.  But the more I watched, the more I was convinced that Testudo was liking what she saw.  Now I’m no more a herpetologist than I am a meteorologist–dammit Jim, I’m just a doctor!–but the way she walked and swung her arms–it appeared feminine.  I think it was a mating ritual!  I tried to Google the identity of the person beneath the shell, but I came up empty and with one PFA.  Who knew cyberstalking was illegal?  Rhetorical!

But I did come across an article that posits that the terrapin mascot is female.

The smaller size of Testudo’s tail, as well as Testudo’s more rounded carapace, support the conclusion that our terrapin is female.

And another thing: Testudo is a terrapin. Specifically, a diamondback terrapin, species name Malaclemys terrapin. Referring to Testudo as a turtle is too vague, too general, too all encompassing; there are over 300 species of turtles. The size of turtles varies a lot. Some are as small as a few inches. Other turtles are as large as several feet. Moreover, Terp is an abbreviation for terrapin, not for turtle. If we were to use turtle, its abbreviation would be turt — at least until the competition finds out and translates it to turd. When we meet alumni, we don’t identify ourselves as turtles — we identify ourselves as terrapins. Our battle cry should not be “Fear the turtle”; it should be “Fear the Terrapin.”

Fear the Turd!  Not!

And I have nothing to fear but fear myself.

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Hard Days Knight

The Altoona Mirror headline read: Ho hum . . . still won.  My fellow blogger, the Nittany Turkey, fell asleep.

Rutgers may be the birthplace of college football, but Saturday afternoon, it was deathbed of college football relevance.

Penn State, a 28 point favorite and ranked somewhere around 14-16, came to High Point Stadium (pretty much an oxymoron there) to face the 1-9 (now 1-10) Scarlet Knights, in a battle for virtually nothing.  And both teams played like it.

To give Rutgers credit for hanging in there and trying, undermines how little enthusiasm and effort the Nittany Lions displayed in this game.  Had their quarterback not dropped a wide open pass in the end zone–a terrific trick play with a half back pass, which guess what?  worked against our defense–AGAIN–the final score could have been 20-14.  Maybe worse.

Let’s make note that Alabama and The Citadel (that’s THE Citadel in case you are wondering) were tied at 10 at the half.  Of course, Alabama actually played the second half, ultimately winning 50-17.

After intense coaching adjustments and renewed play-calling, we managed to score a whole 7 points in the second half, which basically offset the 7 points Rutgers scored in the fourth quarter as well.

How can I make this write-up any more interesting than the game itself?

I did manage to stay awake for the whole game, a combination of fear that we would actually lose to Rutgers, and choosing to watch the game from the bar in Champs.

There were three young women–hell, they all look young to me!–sitting around the corner of the oval bar, one a blonde, facing me, the other two were obstructed by other patrons–my sister and her boyfriend.  I figure they must be at least 21 to be sitting at the bar, but I’m pretty sure they were under 30.  I’m old enough to be their father.  But Luke, I am NOT their father.  Probably doesn’t help my argument here.  But quite frankly, they were still more interesting than the game, especially the blonde who was facing me.

The first half, they looked kind of bored.  Little conversation.  Checking their phones.  No smiles.  Kind of hoping the blonde would make serious eye contact with me at some point, but secretly scared to death she would.  Actually just hoping she wouldn’t catch me staring at her.

We just intercepted the Scarlet Knights in the second quarter.  A few plays later we scored.  They play Zombie Nation at Champs after scores and big plays–it’s just like being at Beaver Stadium.  Well, NOT.  But in this case, there was all the enthusiasm in the bar you might expect if the organist were to play Kernkraft 400 at a funeral.  O-o-o-o-oh, o-o-o-o-o-o-o-oh.  O-oh.  O-oh.  We Knew Dead Guy! O-o-o-o-oh . . .

The dynamic changed after half time.  Not the game.  What are you thinking!?  We played the same shitty football we played in the first half.  Maybe worse.  At least the D shut Rutgers out in the first half.

No.  At half time, some young stud–they all look young!–came over and stood between two of the girls.  Thin but good build if you notice things like that.  Full head of black hair.  Neatly trimmed beard.  Much closer to their age than moi.

womanatbar

You are soooo much more interesting than the Penn State game!

So the second half of the game became an exercise in who would score first–the young dude, or Penn State.  He stood there the whole time.  His dedication and perseverance were phenomenal!

I did notice the girls were now smiling.  Laughing.  Having a good time–because they were interacting with young stud and not the game.

I don’t even think he offered to buy them drinks!  What the hell is his secret? (Youth.)  I don’t want to hear that!  I can’t handle the YOUTH!

I wonder if he scored after the game?

POST MORTEM:

We have steadily declined since the Pitt game, as if defeating them were a curse on us.  And to make matters worse, Pitt is going to the ACC championship game.  Oh, the humanity!  As God as my witness, I thought panthers could fly!

We have Maryland coming to Beaver Stadium next Saturday, at 3:30, so we won’t be able to blame a loss on the early start time.  The Terps almost upset the Buckeyes, finally losing in OT 52-51, which does not bode well for us.  Maryland is also not bowl eligible.  Very, very bad for us.  They have much to play for.  We’re playing for, well, pride maybe?  We’re going to show up.  In body if not spirit.  We’re just coasting to that late December Bowl Game yet to be named after a yard tool or a fruit.

Trace picked up another milestone–30 wins as a starting QB, passing the previous mark of 29 shared by Todd Blackledge and Tony Sacca.

I hope we play better next week.  Or I’m going to have to find a cute blonde in the north end zone to keep me awake.

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Notes ON WISCONSIN

Having graduated from Altoona High School back in the days when kids walked to school, up hill, both ways, in 3 feet of snow in ratty sneakers . . .what?  You had sneakers!  We went barefoot!  And we were thankful to have our feet!  But I digress, and I’m pretty sure I never finished that first sentence, so apparently my days spent in English class were apparently wasted–we used pencils!  Not computers!  And we researched with the Dewey Decimal System and a card catalog–NO GOOGLE!

Anyway, our school fight song was ON ALTOONA and the music was actually the Wisconsin fight song, ON WISCONSIN.  So there’s a certain nostalgia thing going on there.

Getting to the stadium was a challenge.  Thanks to ice and unfortunate accidents on I-99, the road past sky top from Altoona was impassable.

So I went off road down the hill, through the grass, to grandmother’s house we go.  I went back to Port Waltzing Matilda.  Surely I could get there from there.  After all, there’s only one traffic light in Port Matilda.  More nostalgia–I remember many Saturday’s sitting at that traffic light as 322 merged with old 220.  The Fire Company always had a chicken barbecue a block beyond that, if you dared pull off the road and lose your place in line.

But there’s a new traffic light in town.  TWO of them.  And the second is due to construction on a bridge which is now ONE LANE.

It took us half an hour just to get through the two lights.

The traffic on I-99, though, was still not moving.  So I came out ahead.

I got to my parking spot well before kick-off.  Unfortunately, the people who were buying four of my tickets (still in my possession) were . . . sitting on 99.  I gave them directions, and they waited through two traffic lights . . . with the end result that I missed most of the first quarter including the Badger’s only touchdown.  So I had that going for me.

The 22-10 game itself was far from a perfect masterpiece, but apparently the Badgers don’t have much this year.  Perhaps outside of Penn State, they are the biggest disappointment in the conference, and perhaps the nation.  The AP poll had the Badgers at #4 preseason (already in the play-off picture!)  My how the mighty have fallen!

While sportswriters and pundits have unfurled  the “back-on-track” and “good solid win”  banners, I was not so impressed.  We had a field goal blocked and another missed–worse yet we iced our own kicker as we still can’t manage the clock properly 10 games into the season.

And what in the wide, wide world of bloody sports was that play call late in the fourth quarter when all we had to do was run the clock out?  It was unnecessary trickeration, and we ended up fumbling the ball back to the Badgers with two and a half minutes left on the scoreboard.  We haven’t fared well with on-sides kicks this year, and I had no reason to believe we would do any better.

Thankfully, the Badgers suck, and couldn’t take advantage of our piss poor play-calling propensity (the four P’s.)

The victory did propel us nearly to the top of the three-loss teams–we’re behind Florida at #14 in the play-off rankings, behind Texas and Florida in the AP poll, and behind Texas but ahead of Florida in the coaches poll.

The Badger’s traveled well.  Lots of badgers prowling the parking lots that were open.

The tribute to Wally Tripplet, and the history behind the “WE ARE” cheer was emotional.

Penn State will travel to High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, NJ to face the Miss Scarlet Knights of Rutgers.  Last I saw, we were 24 point favorites.  I’m not expecting much of a fight from them, but they are a “rival.”  (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, say no more!)

Maybe I’ll do a wrap up.  Maybe not.  I’ll keep you in the suspenses on that one.

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Got Our Ears Kicked In

A former coach–who shall remain unnamed, but wore rolled up khaki’s and plain black Nike shoes–was often heard to say, “we got our ears kicked in” after a particularly bad loss.

Should we unpack those khaki’s?

You just keep those khaki’s packed.

khakis

Losing 42-7 in Ann Arbor, we definitely got kicked.  Pwned.  Dominated.  Embarrassed.  Stifled, Edith already.

I have no inclination to regurgitate any stats, replays or in any way relive a moment of this fiasco.

As a fan, you know what the team was up against.  Their opponent was undefeated in Big Ten play.  Their only loss was to a 4th ranked Irish team to open the season.  We were double digit underdogs.  We were playing in their House.  A very Big House.

Did we expect to win?  Kind of.  We hoped to win.  We hoped the defense, which seemed to be getting better as the season played out, would keep us in the game.  They did–for a half.  We kind of hoped (“expected”) the offense to break out at some point.  We know we have some play makers.  We know we have a gutsy quarterback with a modicum of talent.  Is it really insane to believe we could put together a perfect game in Ann Arbor?

But those hopes and dreams were shattered and strewn across the field at the Big House.

Perhaps the thing that bothered me the most, is that Michigan, and especially their players if not the coaches as well, adhered to their mantra of the “revenge tour.”  Basically, anyone who beat them last year, was now a target.  Fine, Whatever.

But where was the revenge for our guys?

Michigan leads the all-time series 14-8, and at one time held a nine-game win streak.  They ruined a perfect season in 2005.  Remember the heel toe and the infamous two seconds?  In the first game at Beaver Stadium, our team was flagged a penalty for CROWD NOISE.  The whole referee–referine thing has been whined about by Penn State fans since joining this league.  While the players that took the field may not recall all the details, they certainly must know that this is a rivalry.

And make no mistake about it, we are a rival, whether the snotty, most winning team and their fan base want to admit it.

If we’re not a rival, then why did multiple Michigan players mock celebrate after plays–many swinging a bat and saluting ala Trace McSorley, or running with their arms pinwheeling ala Saquon Barkley?

And how about the Zombie Nation song blaring, with their fans chanting–what I think was–You Suck Penn State, (or worse, We *UCK Penn State, and one Michigan Board claimed they chanted WE OWN PENN STATE) instead of our more catchy and family friendly We Are Penn State.

They can deny it all they want, but we have gotten to them.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

We royally pissed them off, and the scoreboard reflected that.  The antics of mocking us bordered on unsportsmanlike conduct, but then I’m not a big fan of the showboating dances and rituals, so I can’t throw a stone from my glass house at their Big House, seeing as our players may come across as a wee bit cocky sometimes.  When we win, that is.

And win we did not.

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Ioween: The Night He Came Home

Michael Myers wore a Captain James T. Kirk mask.  Kirk Ferentz grew up in the Pittsburgh area of Pennsylvania.    In 1998 he became the Head Coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes.  20 years later . . . HE CAME HOME.

KirkIoween

On a gloomy, wet day on Halloween weekend, Kirk Ferentz and his gruesome band of Hawkeyes (they taste just like chicken I am told!), put a scare into Penn State and Nittany Nation, as the Lions escaped Beaver Stadium’s Little Shop of Punting Horrors with a 30-24 win that shouldn’t have been that close.

Penn State won the toss and elected to put it’s offense on the field.  (Hey, let’s go into this spooky house!  Looks like fun!) After two incomplete passes sandwiched around a one yard gain, the Lions lined up to punt.  (What was that noise?  I don’t know.  Let’s split up and check it out!)

The punt never got off.  Well, it did, late after a bobbled snap, and was blocked.  Fortunately, the ball rolled through the end zone for only a safety.

After the free kick and a 22 yard return, the Hawkeyes set up shop on their own 44.  Stanley intentionally grounded the ball on the first play, but then connected beautifully for a 29-yard gain.  The Hawkeyes fumbled!  (Michael Myers has been hit!  He’s down!)  No.  Wait.  Somehow Iowa recovered the fumble.  (The body’s gone!  He’s still alive!!!) Our defense–which just doesn’t seem to be able to get a three-and out if their lives depended on it, and in any horror movie, your life does depend on it, allowed the Hawks to get to as far as the four yard line before settling for a field goal from the 9.  We tried to rip that facemask off Michael Myers, but we failed.  And there is a penalty to pay for that.

But down 5-0, we are still alive.  Sort of.  Three plays and minus 15 yards later, we are back to punt again.  (Cue the Halloween theme music.)  We did manage to get the punt off, but shanked it out of bounds.

With a starting position at the PSU 42, Ferentz and company went to work, carving up the Lion’s defense like a jack-o-latern.  Now we be down 12-0 and without so much as a first down of our own to show for it.

But Penn State wouldn’t let these B-movie slashers have all the fun.  McSorley and Sanders worked their magic and Penn State pulled to within 5 with a pass to Freiermuth to make it 12-7.

The defense then somehow, someway, managed a three and out and Iowa was forced to punt.  And just as momentum was shifting our way, we go incomplete, three yard rushing gain and then a sack to set up for our third punt.  The eerie music swells in a crescendo that sent the snap over Gillikin’s head.  Once again, the Lions are fortunate that the snap sailed through the end zone for only another safety.

Two safeties in one game?  (Flashback sequence to another wet, dreary day when the Hawkeyes prevailed 6-4.) I still shudder.

Worse yet, Jamie Lee Franklin’s team took a hit as McSorley was injured on the sack.  But after a John Reid interception, Tommy Stevens stepped in and rushed the remaining three yards  for a touchdown that tied the score at 14-14.

The teams would go into the half knotted up at 17.

In the second half, Iowa would get the ball first, and after ripping off a 23 yard rush to near midfield, our defense tightened again, and forced a punt.  Trace McSorley, back in the game (it was just a flesh wound!) worked his magic and ran 51 yards for paydirt.  The Lions took their first lead of the day.

Penn State would add another field goal to stretch that lead over Michael Myers 27-17.  No way could the monster in the Hawkeye mask catch up to us now.

Yet somehow, although he plods along while the hero runs, he still catches up.  Almost.  The Hawks are within three points.

KJ Hamler returned the kick-off 67 yards and Penn State looked poised to finish off the bad guy once and for all.  But Michael fought back fiercely, blinded in one eye, and held the Lions to another field goal.  30-24.

Michael was only 6 points behind.  A mere TD and an extra point from finishing us off.

And Iowa was moving the ball.

We had a chance to stop them on fourth down–no wait!  (We stopped him!) We jumped off sides!  (No–he’s on the move again!  He’s still coming!!!!) Horrors!

They drove the ball down to the 17 yard line, precious seconds ticking away.

Do we let them score quick so we have time to get in position for a field goal?  Or do we hope the monster can finally be stopped? You just know the killer isn’t going to die!  You can’t stop him.

Interception Nick Scott!  At the the three yard line!  (Michael Myers is down!  Should we shoot him again just to be sure?  No.  There’s only 3:18 left in this film.  He’s dead.)

But Nick Scott only stumbles out to the 9 and PSU must run off some clock.  (In the background, as we breathe a sigh of relief, Michael sits up.)

We manage to get the ball out to the 33, but there is still 1:23 left on the clock for Michael to wreak his revenge . . . (Dammit!  He’s still alive!!!!)

But Jamie survives and lives to face Michael on another day.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Just like last week, the opponent out-performed our Nittany Lions in almost every category except scoring points.

Iowa had more first downs, more rushing, passing and total yards, and won what my fellow blogger the Nittany Turkey calls the “increasingly irrelevant” time of possession by 10 minutes.  (In horror films, that’s time enough for at least a dozen deaths.)  Third down conversions were slightly better by the Hawks (7-20 vs. 4-14.)  They notched 2 safeties, but not due to their prowess but to our ineptitude at snapping the ball.

However, they had one more INT and that is the key difference, although they still had another chance with a little over a minute to go.  We end with the hero still alive, but we all know that Iowa will be back.

PennStatePumpkin

INTANGIBLES:

Up by 10 and moving the ball, we fumbled.  We just can’t seem to put an opponent away in the waning moments of a game.  After the interception, we forced them to use their timeouts.  ONE FIRST DOWN and you WIN.  We failed-again.  Pundits are quick to criticize the coaches, but the coaches didn’t mishandle the fumble exchange, nor did they snap the ball poorly on two punts.  Maybe they need to work on some fundamentals more in practice (tackling in the first quarter jumps to mind as well,) but we can’t blame everything on our coaches.  But  a fourth quarter offensive scheme that works might have won a championship this year.

Crowd listed at 105, 244.  Yeah right.  Tickets sold, not bodies cold.  Still, a decent crowd for the weather conditions.

We won the toss.  Cost us 2 points.

No drum major flips–field too wet.

The Lions are riding a five-game win streak over the Hawkeyes. which ties the previous win streak record in this series.

Military Appreciation Day!  Thank you veterans and active service personnel!

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

Both Michigan and Ohio State sat out the weekend.  They looked bored.  To death.

Wisconsin lost to Northwestern 31-17.  Wow.

Minnesota defeated Indiana 38-31.  We softened them up for you, go-fair.

A week after Purdue upsot the Buckeyes, they fall to the Spartans, 23-13.

Maryland trounced the Illini 63-33.

And Nebraska beat Bethune-Cookman (I guess that’s a school?) 45-9.  Nice job not screwing up that one.

LOOKING AHEAD:

This is another Big One Elizabeth.

The Lions will travel to Ann Arbor next week to take on the Wolverines at the Out House at 3:45.  Penn State is 14/13 in the polls.

THEM (as in The-M) is 6-1 and undefeated in conference play.  They are ranked 5th in the nation with a lone loss to the Irish of South Bend.  Their closest victory was a 20-17 come from behind win over Northwestern.

I’m not one for predictions, but I think if we go a third week where the opponent dominates every positive statistical category, I think we will lose.  A lot will depend on how hurt McSorley was and how he recovers from that.

The wolverines open as a 10-point favorite..

GO STATE!  BEAT THEM!

 

 

 

 

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Blooming Ton of Crap

If you face palmed so hard that you’re now cross-eyed . . . you might be a Penn State fan.

TripleFacePalm

If you’re standing on a ledge, despite your team winning . . . you might be a Penn State fan.

I could go on and on, over and over again, repeating the same crap . . . but that would make me a Penn State fan!

Seriously!

33-28, and the Hoosiers not only recover an on-sides kick to gain possession for a possible upsetting score, but they do so because the Nittany Lions shot themselves in the tail–once again–with a penalty mistake.  How can you line up with too many men on one side of the field?  It’s apparently easier than it sounds.  I did not know that was a penalty.  But I am not being paid multiple millions of dollars to know that interesting, and possibly game changing, piece of trivia.

The Hoosiers won nearly every statistical category–total yards, passing yards, rushing yards, first downs, time of possession, better conversion percentages for third and fourth downs–yet still lost the game.  Glad I’m not a Hoosier blogger –I don’t have to recap that crap!

The only thing that saved us was Indiana had 7 penalties to 3 for us, and one more turn-over.  We also were 5-5 in the red zone (albeit only 3 TDs) while the Hoosiers were 3-4 in the Del Grosso Red Zone. And therein is the difference in the game.

Am I happy that we won?

Hell yes.

But could we just start playing–and coaching–a little smarter?

What did you think of the botched fake punt?  There have been times when we’re punting from the opponents 40 yard line where I thought, hey, the odds are you’re going to kick into the end zone for a touchback.  So you’re maybe giving up 20 yards if you fail.

But with the score tied in the first quarter, it seemed . . . rather desperate.  And it was poorly executed, like we had never even practiced it before.

Sure, if it had worked, and we went on to score, it could have looked brilliant.

But the coaching issue I fear goes a little more deeply.  What has happened to our offense?  Is it simply a product of facing defenses of better quality than Pitt and Kent State?

McSorley has been awful on the deep throws.  That is not coaching per se, but maybe it is time to switch things up.  Give the other guys a series or two.  My friend, who has watched more Penn State football than I in his lifetime, thinks McSorley had/has an injury.  The last three games, he certainly has lost his touch.  He has made up for it with his legs, but do we want to be a team that depends on its quarterback for most of our rushing yardage?  I guess if it works . . .

But again, I told you last week I’m not an x’s and o’s kind of guy.  I don’t know if the play calling really is different, or just the results, but my sense is that we have become predictable and bland.

We are Bob Ross, painting an offense.  Let’s put a happy little wide receiver over here.  There’s nothing wrong with having a tight end as a friend.  I guess I’m a little weird. I like to talk to footballs and pylons. That’s okay though; I have more fun than most people.  Lets build a happy little quarterback sneak.  Let’s get crazy and try a fake punt here, for no reason at all.  We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents.

BobRoss

Penn State Football in a nutshell.

A happy accident.  That sums up the Indiana game in a nutshell.

STREAKING:

The Tide continues to roll, but the Buckeyes streak of wins ended at Purdue.  I don’t know what team Urban Meyer took to West Lafayette, but that was not the team he brought to Beaver Stadium.  Dude!  Someone stole his team!

Trace McSorley’s streak of games with a touchdown pass ended.  Tommy Stevens threw the only touchdown pass of the game.

We snapped a two game losing streak.

Nebraska snapped their own 10 game losing streak with a victory over the Gophers.

Rutgers extended their losing streak to 7.

The Big (Ten) Picture:

Michigan trumped Michigan State to take the mid-term lead in the Big Ten Polls.

Wisconsin beat Illinois 49-20.

The Haweyes shut out Maryland 23-0.  Sure hope we don’t have to face that defense.

The Cornhuskers defeated Minnesota 53-28.

Northwestern beat Rutgers 18-15.  Oh, Scarlet Knights, you were soooo close.

And living vicariously through the Boilermakers, Purdue downed Ohio State 49-20.  Read.  That.  Again.  49-20.  The Buckeyes looked lost.  Seriously, it was like the Keystone Kops on some of their defensive plays.  (Or, ahem, like Penn State’s defense at times.)

And if you are tracking the College Football Champion . . . Purdue now has that title, as Ohio State took it from us, and then lost it to Purdue.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Iowa comes to Beaver Stadium next week at 3:30.  The Haweyes are ranked 18th.  The home team is ranked 17/16.  (Appalachian State is 25th!)

They have a home loss to Wisconsin 28-17, but wins over Minnesota (48-31), Indiana 42-16–uh oh) and Maryland (23-0).  Their record is 6-1 overall with OOC victories over Iowa State, Northern Iowa, and Northern Illinois.

The early betting line has Penn State favored by 6.  I am not making that up.. I don’t know why.  Don’t ask me.

GO STATE!  BEAT HAWKS!

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Trojan Lion

Those sneaky Greeks!  The Spartans snuck their best warriors into Beaver Stadium . . . we welcomed them amidst cheers and jubilation!–under the guise of a wooden Lion– a fake gift of a homecoming foe in the throes of a mediocre season.

And we fell for it.

What can you say after a 21-17 loss that saw PSU tumble from the lofty rank of 8th in the nation to 18th place in the AP poll (16th in the Coaches who felt sorrier for us.)

I don’t know what to say.  I don’t even know where to begin.

PatrickStar

PENN STATE IN THE FOURTH QUARTER

So I asked myself, as I pondered this dilemma . . . what do my readers want?  (I only have like 5 regulars, and I think a couple of them are on heavy medications.)  Jimmy might by 45 and living in his mother’s basement,  But I digress.

Do you come here for the brilliant analysis of a post game?  I highly doubt it.  I’m not an X’s and O’s kind of guy.  (I hate Tic-tac-toe.)  I know less about the game than the talking heads on ESPN that we all make fun of.  But at least most of them either coached the game at some level, or played the game themselves.  I have done neither.  If I’m no longer your hero, I understand.

Is it the humorous repartee that keeps you coming back?

A Michigan State fan walks into a bar.  The Penn State fan ducks.

Nope.  Can’t be that.

I’m not really sure I know why you come to this site, but I’m going to go out on a limb here.  It’s Fellowship.  Kinship.  An exchange of thoughts and emotions that only armchair quarterbacks and true fans of the game can understand.  Misery loves company, and celebrations are better with more than one person–your mother upstairs doesn’t count Jimmy.  My weekend is ruined–ruined Andre, we’re ruined!–when Penn State loses.  The sun may come up Sunday morning, but I really don’t give a flying fart if we lost.  I’d rather live a dark Sunday after a win, than a beautiful day that mocks my mood after a loss.

We can over-analyze the facts–the stats, the outcomes, until we’re blue and white in the face.  It won’t change what happened.  But there is a catharsis in the discussion; a cleansing of our football souls.

We should have won that game.  And the one before it, but don’t get me started about that again.

Are we over-rated?  Apparently.  Thank you Mr. Obvious.

After last week’s loss, Coach Franklin spoke about Penn State not playing at an elite level.  We were a great team, but not quite at that elite level.  Well, James, I’ve got news for you.  We are not a great team.  Whereas the Buckeyes can make a pretty sound argument for being an elite team, Michigan State?  Not so much.

We lost to a very pedestrian, very mediocre Spartan team on Saturday.  And while the score looked close, we were not very good and quite frankly, we deserved to lose.  I think we are capable of playing better than we did the last two games, but the results do not support that.

And therein lies the rub.

My anger, frustration, dismay, pain . . feel free to throw in whatever adverse emotions you felt as you watched that game play out . . . really comes down to a mismatch between my perception of reality . . . and reality itself.

I thought we were a great team.  I thought we had a chance to go to the play-offs.  I thought this was going to be a special season (and I’m sorry if you are one of those fans that thinks 10-2 is a special season, because IT IS NOT.)  There will be no Big Ten Title.  There will be no play-off game.  No National Championship.

At Penn State, we fans have been spoiled by our school’s historical success.  In any given year, there is only ONE team (in the past before the BCS and play-off committees, there could be multiple titles based on different polls) but even if you allow 2 teams per year to win, the odds of a school winning a title are pretty dismal.  If there are 120 Bowl Division teams, that chance is one in 120.

Yale has the most titles–18–but has not won a national trophy since 1927.

Alabama is second with 15.  Five have come within the last nine years.

Only 60 colleges can claim at least 1 national football title.  Only 43 have more than one.  In addition to Yale and Princeton, that list also includes these schools that either no longer play football, or won’t be considered for a title ever again:  Chicago, Centre, Washington & Jefferson, Detroit, Dartmouth, Lafayette, and Colgate.

Winning a championship is special.  My oldest child was born in 1994.  She has never seen Penn State play for a national championship.

And when a 10-2 season comes down to five points, that is really too close to just dismiss off-handedly.  (I am assuming we win the rest, but hey, don’t bet your money on my predictions.)

Dammit, we were so close.  And with Georgia, Washington and West Virginia losing, we really could have moved up in the world.

As it is, we are what we are.  And it’s not special.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Out of 15 drives by MSU, 7 drives were less than 5 plays.  For PSU, not counting the knee to end the first half and the 13 second “drive” to end the game, the Lions had 14 drives, with only FOUR going for more than 4 plays.

MSU had 25 first downs.  We had 14.  I just shake my head.

Which explains the lopsided time of possession, which the Spartans won by 34:12 compared with our 25:48.

The Box Score listed only 6 penalties for PSU for 41 yards,  It seemed like a lot more than that because some of them were key penalties that kept MSU drives alive without actually yielding much yardage.  MSU had 3 penalties for 20 yards, and two of those were false starts possibly related to the crowd noise.  None of the reviews went in our favor.

Michigan State out gained us 418 to 397 yards.  Just incredible.

INTANGIBLES:

There was not one single intangible that did not favor PSU.  Home game.  Homecoming crowd of 106,685.  Stripe out.  Saquon Barkley and Michael Mauti on the sidelines.  Revenge for last year’s late loss.  The drum Major stuck both flips.  Ranked freaking 8th in the nation with an outside shot at making the play-offs.

We should be glad the NCAA doesn’t penalize us for wasting our advantages.

And to the “next year is our year crowd” . . .  Bull.  Shit.  THIS WAS OUR YEAR!!!  Senior QB.  Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan State at home with Michigan being the only road game of any contention.  Next year’s home schedule is Idaho, Buffalo, Pitt, Purdue, Michigan, Indiana and Rutgers.  Woo freaking hoo.  If you are a season ticket holder that likes to sell their tickets, I wouldn’t bother buying next year.  There’s only one game there you’ll be able to sell for any real money.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

The F*CKEYES are still number one.  You don’t need to waste any more time worrying about it.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Indiana.

That’s all I got.

Fighting for a place in that Taxslayer Bowl.  Or maybe James Franklin will take us to the Franklin American Mortgages Music City Bowl.  Cocktails at Mike Reid’s house.

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Filed under college football, Penn State, sports, Uncategorized