Penn State opens the home season at Beaver Stadium against the Emus of Eagle University. Um, strike that. Reverse it. The Eagles of EMU.
I haven’t seen an official line yet, and am too damned lazy to look one up, but I suspect we will be favored. And we all know how accurate those odds ratings are. Good grief, what odds maker had a stroke and made Pitt only a 10 point underdog???
According to USA Today Sports, EMU is ranked 117th out of 125 teams. Very impressive indeed.
Eastern Michigan has created some separation between itself and conference rivals like Massachusetts and Akron, though the Eagles remain football fields removed from being mentioned in the same breath as Mid-American Conference frontrunners like Toledo, Northern Illinois and Ohio. At the very least, EMU can continue to hover between two and four wins and remain one step above the bottom rung of the MAC’s ladder – which is fine, and certainly familiar ground for a program now more than 25 years removed from its last postseason appearance.
And by the way, Ohio got pasted by Louisville on Sunday. So if EMU is football fields removed from them, I don’t see Saturday being a problem. Of course, I didn’t see Ohio being a problem last year, so maybe I need my glasses checked. Any one know a good eye doctor?
Thomas Bieszk of The Eastern Echo -cho, -cho, -cho, writes about EMU’s victory over Howard (Cosell? Schnellenberger? Hughes? Stern?) this past weekend.
The first half started off slow, as each team drove the ball to midfield only to have the drives stall. . . The Eagles followed that with a touchdown drive of their own, capped by a 33-yard touchdown pass from Benz to junior wide receiver Demarius Reed. The extra point was blocked and the Eagles went into halftime with a 13-10 lead.
The start of the second half was frustrating to say the least. Howard opened up the half with an 80-yard drive that ended with a 32-yard catch and run by sophomore wide receiver Jonathan Booker for the score and the recapture of the lead. The play was an eight-yard out route, but a couple missed tackles opened up the long run afterwards.
Do you think ARob might make them miss a few tackles? Our game versus Syracuse started out slow . . .I think it was 6-3 at the half and I was beginning to wonder if someone was going to intentionally take a safety to secure the win!
An EMU football blogger (yes! I Know! AN EMU football blog actually exists!) writes about their moral victory . . .
Remember when I told you that the closest Howard had ever come to a Division I-A/FBS school was 23 points?
I almost wanted to just end this recap there. If there is such a thing as a moral victory, then there also must be such a thing as a moral loss, and if so, this was surely one.
It was almost worse, though; it was almost an actual loss. With EMU trailing 17-13 midway through the third quarter, I suggested to a friend that a loss to Howard should result in an immediate firing. Moments later, the Bison scored again, taking a double-digit lead and I was ready for the entire coaching staff to lose their jobs on the spot. Let’s face it, if they had proven unable to coach the team to a win over Howard, they probably wouldn’t have been able to find any other wins on the schedule this year either; the Bison are expected to be far and away the worst team the Eagles will face this fall.
Fortunately, EMU came back with 21 unanswered points to turn an 11-point deficit into a 10-point win. Plus, I’m not the one making that decision anyway, and let’s face it, that’s probably a good thing too.
Looking at that score, looking at how the Eagles fell behind, I have to say that it’s hard to see this year ending any better than 4-8, and 1-11 is not unimaginable.
There were actually a number of vocal Penn State posters expressing concern about how close our game was, but keep in mind folks, PSU turned the ball over FOUR times, went 1-16 on third down conversions with a freshman quarterback, and gained less than 60 yards rushing . . . AND STILL WON THE GAME against an opponent that actually went to and WON a bowl game last year, thrashing West Virginia 38-14 in the Pinstrip Bowl (intentionally misspelled.) Oh wait, is that the same WVU that almost tanked to William and Mary? Whatever. Syracuse was bowling and Howard was, well, whatever Howard was doing. And I don’t think we even want to go there.
The EMU blogger notes that the Eagle’s running game never really got going (good luck against us) and their defense is very young and still learning.
All kidding aside, I do expect EMU to come out fighting. After all, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. This ain’t the NCAA of 1982. Eastern Washington’s and Appalachian State’s can win. They can haz cheezeburgers! Even Western Kentucky taught Kentucky a thing or two about football this past weekend.
So on any given day . . .but this Saturday is not a given day. Not in Happy Valley. The Eagles will be grounded.
And in other news, Ficken and Hackenberg were named Big Ten Players of the Week.
GO STATE! BEAT EMU!