Déjà VA All Over Again

Last season, Sam Ficken missed a PAT and FOUR field goals, as a floundering Penn State team in Bill O’Brien’s second game as PSU head coach fell 17-16 to the Virginia Cavaliers.  But Sam Ficken rebounded from that effort, set a Penn State record for consecutive field goals made, and won the Wisconsin game in OT last year with a successful kick.

But Saturday, against the Cornhuskers, it was déjà vu all over again–or déjà VA as the case would be.

Penn State scored first in a game which gave new meaning to a whiteout, as snow sprayed across the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field Beaver Stadium at times yesterday.  I don’t know if that was the coldest game I have ever sat through, but it is certainly in the top 2 or 3 if not the coldest.  I don’t know what the coldest game ever at Beaver Stadium was.  I guess you’d have to ask Lou Prato.

But the euphoria of a touchdown melted quickly, which was incredible in itself that anything could melt yesterday–did I mention it was COLD?–when Ficken dinked the extra point off the right upright leaving the scoreboard showing a 6-0 advantage.

Some fans are quick to point out that that miss “cost us the game” as it seems painfully obvious that a 21-20 score would not have gone to OT.  Au contraire.  I am just full of the French-y references today. That little bit of rocket science presumes or assumes that Nebraska would have kicked said field goal down 21-17 with a fourth and goal at the PSU one yard line.  They might have just punched the ball in for a 24-21 victory and no OT to miss another field goal.  Or they might have got a PI and a new set of downs.  Perhaps they would have still taken the three with the hope of getting the ball back, but WE DON’T KNOW THAT.  Mark Twain wrote, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

I ain’t sure we win that game if Ficken makes the PAT.  I ain’t sure we win if Ficken made the FG in OT.  Our chances certainly would have been better–but not guaranteed.  Likewise, our chances would have been better if Hack had simply RUN for the freaking first down instead of throwing a low uncatchable ball on third down.  Maybe the outcome would have been different if he hadn’t thrown another rackin, frackin, hackin, berging INT when we just moved the ball from the shadows of our goal out to midfield and seemed rolling for a score.

It is what it is.  That’s my new philosophy of Penn State football.

It has become tedious each week to dissect the mistakes and try to lay blame for each loss on some entity.  As I mentioned in the past, Penn State fans are spoiled from the glory years of the 70’s and the 80’s.  Back then we EXPECTED to win every game.  And when we failed, there must be some reason–the weather, the refs, the coaching (esp. over-used in the 2000’s), the 85 scholarship limit (now the 65 scholarship limit), the phase of the moon, the turf, the lack of sideline heaters, the B1G conference (who in some way must be responsible for all this), etc. ad nauseum.

In the final analysis, it is what it is.

We are simply not a very good team.  And that conclusion is supported by the facts of the season, and not derived from any reading of tea leaves.  Good teams don’t lose games like that. Or to Indiana.  We can sugar coat how much better Indiana is now than they used to be, but the Hoosiers have lost to the better competition in this conference, but BEAT US badly.

It wasn’t Sam Ficken that lost the game yesterday.  It was Sam Ficken and Christian Hackenberg and Allan Robinson (who dropped a catchable pass by the way) and Bill O’Brien and all his coordinators, and the guy who fills the Gatorade bottles.  It was a team effort.  And it is not for lack of trying or a lack of heart–I have seen Penn State teams in the last 15 years give up.  This team doesn’t give up.  They just don’t have what it takes right now to be competitive week in and week out.

Nebraska made one fewer mistake than Penn State.  We were on the other side of that equation against THEM.  Thank God we had some bright moments to celebrate this season.  We could be wallowing around at 3-8 like 2004.

I want to thank our seniors for an exciting game on a cold Senior Day.  I really hoped to extol about how O’Brien was undefeated in OT games and make some snarky analysis that he should treat the other four quarters like OT.  I really wanted to tell some corn jokes and make fun of Nebraska, but well, they’re stuck out there and I guess that’s punishment enough.

It is what it is.

BY THE NUMBERS:

From GoPSUsports:

NEB PSU
FIRST DOWNS………………. 19 18
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)………… 41-168 44-170
PASSING YDS (NET)…………. 192 217
Passes Att-Comp-Int……….. 36-21-0 33-16-1
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS….. 77-360 77-387
Fumble Returns-Yards………. 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards………… 3-0 3-27
Kickoff Returns-Yards……… 4-143 2-37
Interception Returns-Yards…. 1-0 0-0
Punts (Number-Avg)………… 9-45.7 11-35.5
Fumbles-Lost……………… 4-2 3-0
Penalties-Yards…………… 7-54 3-25
Possession Time…………… 29:16 30:44
Third-Down Conversions…….. 3 of 17 2 of 14
Fourth-Down Conversions……. 0 of 0 0 of 0
Red-Zone Scores-Chances……. 2-3 2-3
Sacks By: Number-Yards…….. 1-1 2-22

Penn State gained more yards, both rushing and passing, than Nebraska, forced three fumbles and recovered two of them, won time of possession by a small margin, yet lost the game.  Our defense held the Huskers to 3 of 17 third down conversions, but our offense only managed 2 of 15 conversions.  It is what it is.

INTANGIBLES:

I went to Happy Valley and they stole my head!

How am I going to eat this huge ear of corn?

Did I mention the game was cold?

The 98,517 listed attendance definitely included people there in spirit as well.  It was a disappointing crowd, but can you blame them?  Did I mention it was COLD?

The Drum Major stuck both flips.  He was lucky his arse didn’t freeze to the turf!

Penn State won the first coin toss and deferred.  Nebraska won the one that mattered and went on defense to start OT.

Nebraska now lead the series 9-7.  I don’t give a rackin, frackin, hackin, berging twit about vacated wins, as you probably already know.

By the way, it was COLD.

THE B1G PICTURE:

Buckeyes rolled all over the Hoosiers like a good team should, winning 42-14.

Iowa defeated THEM 24-21.

MSU pounded the Cats 30-6.

Wisconsin rolled out the barrel and buried the Gophers 20-7.

Illinois finally won a game.  Purdue hasn’t.  The final was 20-16, so I guess neither team really wanted the win that badly.

Michigan State and Ohio State have clinched their berth in the title game, with the Buckeyes having one more meaningless game against THEM, and Sparty facing the Gophers next week.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  Idaho–lost 80-14 to F$U.

2.  Baylor–lost to Okie State 49-17.  No BCS Title for YOU!

3.  Oregon–lost to Arizona 42-16.  Wow.  That’s just Quacked.

4.  Florida–lost to Georgia . . . wait for it . . . Southern.  Ga Southern won 26-20.

5.  Arkansas lost again.  Woo Hoo!  Bret’s da Man.  For the all you can eat smorgasbord that is.

6.  Johnny Feetsball lost to LSU.  Price for his autograph fell as well.

LOOKING AHEAD:

One game left.  The Lions travel to Wisconsin to face a team that would be tough to beat with 85 scholarship players.  The Badgers are 9-2 with losses to Arizona State and the unbeatable Buckeyes.

We’re going to lose.  It is what it is.  I feel like a Temple fan.

By Thursday, I’ll have come up with a few insane reasons why we could and might win this game, but I’ll just be full of my usual bullshit and a lot of turkey by that point.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving Nittany Nation!

And thank you to Charles Shultz–a comic genius that somehow knew Penn State football!

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