Wrecking Ball

Lions have “CHEESE TOUCH!”

Monte Ball rolled all over Penn State en route to scoring 4 touchdowns and leading the Badgers to a 45-7 victory over the Nittany Lions in Madison.  Ball brought his season TD total to 34, five behind all-time leader Barry Sanders.  And while the offensive output against this Penn State defense was impressive, the key to the Badgers success was four turn-overs.  Three fumbles–two on punts–and an interception gave the Badger offense great field position and kept our defense on the field a long time.  The Badgers had the ball almost twice as long as Penn State and they ran 36 more offensive plays.

I don’t need to tell you how big this game was.  Although the Lions can claim a “share” of the Leaders Division title, the claim is hollow and meaningless, as Wisconsin will head to Indy to face Michigan State again.  But don’t worry, football fans.  Rematches are in this season as it appears we will have to endure another LSU-Bama bore fest for all the marbles.

I could dissect this game in detail, but you probably watched it and you don’t want to hear about it again.  In a capsule, we played sloppy and unfocused.  We lost time of possession by the largest margin since probably 1994, when Penn State’s average scoring drive was around two minutes on the season.  Throw in a few turnovers and we never stood a chance.

It was a whine and cheese party in Madison.  They brought the cheese, and I will provide the whine.  Yes.  I’m going to say it.  I am going to go there.  The officiating sucked.  IT DID NOT COST US THE GAME–Wisconsin was too good for that.  But that makes the piss-poor officiating all that more egregious.

The night before the game I was talking with a friend about this.  I knew that Penn State could not hope to blow-out Wisconsin.  Our only hope was a close game.  But in a close game, the referee can make the critical call that swings things.  I told my friend that the Big Ten had already decided that Penn State could not be in this title game.  They did not want that kind of publicity.  Who am I kidding?  They never wanted us in any title race.  But the point I made to him was that the referees would favor the Badgers at all costs.

Not even half way through the game–at 4:30 PM–he texted me saying I was right about the referees and he bows to my greatnesss.  There are times when I hate to be right.

Seriously.  Wisconsin did not need the help.  And the bad calls–like the blatant PI on Haplea that wasn’t called and the unsportsmanlike penalty on McGloin for throwing the ball incomplete after the play was whistled dead for a penalty–only kept Penn State from ever having a chance to climb back into this game.  Again, the calls did not keep us from winning–we weren’t good enough to win this game.  But they made an uncompetitive game even more lopsided.

And why was Russell Wilson still taking snaps in the fourth quarter?  You never want to see a player injured, but there would have been some poetic justice to watch Bielema’s face if his star QB suffered an injury slipping on the wet field when he didn’t need to be out there.

In the end, the game was disappointing beyond words.

And now the fate of this program is in the hands of the Board of Trustees and David Joyner (who was on the board!)  The list of potential candidates has shrunk due to circumstances beyond the football field.  Will they rush to fill the position, perhaps making a bad choice just to make a choice?  The precedent has been set:  they rushed to fire Paterno before they even investigated the situation.

My how the tables have turned.  At the beginning of this season, a large number of PSU fans were hoping Paterno would retire and that Penn State would direct a national search for a replacement instead of staying in house like Paterno wanted to do.  Now, just months later, we miss Paterno and would prefer to see Tom Bradley take the helm, rather than a second-rate coach with no proven ability.

Think about it.  Who do you want to coach this team?  Al Golden does not have the experience.  London at Virginia?  Did you see that Virginia team against Va Tech?  Meyer might be a good temporary choice, but it doesn’t look likely that will happen.  He’s either a liar and he is going to Ohio State, or he’s not going there.  I’ve heard rumors of Tony Dungy, and of all the candidates I’ve heard so far, that might be the best.

Unfortunately, the buffoons on the BOT either don’t realize how importnat this football program is to the University–or they don’t care.  Either way, I fear a knee jerk move to erase Paterno completely from the picture and anyone ever associated with him.  They will act too quickly in the name of wanting to do something, to start the healing, and to move forward.  But making a bad decision is worse than making no decision in this case.

Say what you will about Paterno.  Maybe he knew more about Sandusky than we know.  Maybe he should have done more.  But he still built this program to what it is today–or at least to what it was before November 5th.  He graduated students.  He cared about the athletes under his supervision.  He spurned changing uniform designs to make a buck or show off.  He benched players for celebration.  He did football the way it was meant to be done, even if he didn’t always win and didn’t always make us armchair quarterbacks happy.

But in its time of need, Penn State has seen fit to expel the strongest moral compass in collegiate football–EVER–just when we need morality the most. 

We can only pray that his replacement is a fraction as noble and successful as Paterno, while still doing football the right way.

BY THE NUMBERS:

From the GoPSUsports site:
table.tableizer-table {border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;} .tableizer-table td {padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc;} .tableizer-table th {background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold;}

Team Totals PSU WIS
FIRST DOWNS 12 27
Rushing 6 13
Passing 4 13
Penalty 2 1
NET YARDS RUSHING 114 264
Rushing Attempts 27 49
Average Per Rush 4.2 5.4
Rushing Touchdowns 0 4
Yards Gained Rushing 114 279
Yards Lost Rushing 0 15
NET YARDS PASSING 119 186
Completions-Attempts-Int 11-25-1 19-29-0
Average Per Attempt 4.8 6.4
Average Per Completion 10.8 9.8
Passing Touchdowns 1 2
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS 233 450
Total offense plays 52 78
Average Gain Per Play 4.5 5.8
Fumbles: Number-Lost 4-3 1-1
Penalties: Number-Yards 7-58 4-35
PUNTS-YARDS 5-231 5-203
Average Yards Per Punt 46.2 40.6
Net Yards Per Punt 41.4 29.8
Inside 20 3 1
50+ Yards 2 1
Touchbacks 0 1
Fair catch 1 0
KICKOFFS-YARDS 2-127 8-457
Average Yards Per Kickoff 63.5 57.1
Net Yards Per Kickoff 39.5 41.1
Touchbacks 0 0
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD 4-34-0 2-24-0
Average Per Return 8.5 12
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD 6-128-0 2-48-0
Average Per Return 21.3 24
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD 0-0-0 1-0-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD 1-6-0 0-0-0
Miscellaneous Yards 0 0
Possession Time 21:43 38:47
1st Quarter 3:37 11:23
2nd Quarter 4:29 10:31
3rd Quarter 7:44 7:16
4th Quarter 5:53 9:07
Third-Down Conversions 4 of 13 9 of 16
Fourth-Down Conversions 0 of 2 0 of 0
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 0-1 6-6
Touchdowns 0-1 5-6
Field goals 0-1 1-6
Sacks By: Number-Yards 2-12 0-0
PAT Kicks 1-1 6-6
Field Goals 0-0 1-1

Again, time of possession and turnovers absolutely killed us.  The interception by McGloin occurred right after the Badgers had kicked out of bounds and we had good field position at the forty.  Bad pass.  Killed us.  The fumble by Redd on the opening drive of the second half was a killer too.  No chance to get back in the game.

INTANGIBLES:

The only thing we won on Saturday was the coin toss.  We deferred.

A wet crowd of 79,708 jumped around Camp Randall Stadium.

Wisconsin leads the all-time series 6-9.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

Michigan State and Wisconsin will square off AGAIN for the Big Ten title.  Personally, I think the tie breaker system sucks.  Why send Wisconsin back to face the Spartans.  Been there done that.  Head to head competition ought to play a rule in who they face, not just in the division.  Wisconsin had their shot and blew it.  The next ranked team in the division should have shot.  Otherwise, why did they even play the first game in the first place?

Illinois has fired Ron Zook, after becoming the first school to win their first six games, and then lose the last six.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  For college football fans–who will be forced to watch a rematch between LSU and Alabama in all likelihood.  See BIG PICTURE above. Oh yeah, like Georgia might win.
2.  Arkansas–pounded by LSU
3.  Pitt–WVU wins the backyard brawl by one point
4.  Notre Dame–LUCK is with Stanford, not the Irish
5.  Clemson – lost to South Carolina; must face Va Tech in the ACC championship

LOOKING AHEAD:

I’m not going to speculate on the bowl here.  We’ll preview that after the picks are made.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under analysis, Big Ten, football, opinion, Penn State, recap, statistics, Wisconsin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s