This was supposed to be the trap game. This was the latest game of reckoning, or as my fellow blogger, The Nittany Turkey calls it, the Sanguinarian Day of Reckoning. Or one of many potential days of reckoning that have not yet reckoned. Penn State had lost the last two to Michigan State and James Franklin was 1-4 against Mark Dantonio. Michigan State was supposed to have our number, if not our playbook.
But the day of reckoning has been postponed at least another two weeks, as the Nittany Lions dominated the Spartans 28-7 in a torrential downpour in East Lansing, Michigan. Did you by any chance see the woodshed beating that Michigan put on the Irish in the same downpour, albeit 66 miles or so away? Makes our win over the wolverines look just a little more shiny this morning.
The only bad news is that this means we have to crate up and haul off the Land Grant Trophy to State College. Shouldn’t the loser have to keep and dust this piece of crap? It resembles the moss covered three handled family credenza from the Cat in the Hat. It’s eerily similar to the Lou Grant Trophy. Don’t believe me? Check it out . . .
Despite the humiliation of having this monstrosity in our trophy case, the Nittany Lions improved to 8-0 on the season, #5 in both polls (thank you Kansas State and shame on you Auburn!), and Penn State pulls within one of evening up the all-time series with the Spartans at 16-17-1.
While Sean Clifford has had his ups and downs this season, certainly understandable given his first season as a starter, he found a way to throw FOUR touchdown passes under conditions that should be more conducive to a running game. Pat Friermuth had a hat trick with three touchdown receptions himself.
The defense played their typical Penn State bend but don’t let the other team score defense, holding the Spartans to 83 yards on the ground for 2.7 yards per carry. Only 7 points appeared on the scoreboard. Penn State didn’t gain a lot on the ground either, but Noah Cain left the game early with an injury.
That is not to say that Penn State didn’t have it’s problems. Today was the day for Special Teams to struggle, and that is not at all surprising given the weather conditions. But a fumbled kick-off (ultimately recovered by the Lions,) a punt return for a touchdown called back for running into the kicker, a missed PAT, and a kick-off out of bounds all add up to a less than stellar performance. But it was not a game close enough for special teams to make a difference.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Unlike last week, the numbers largely favor Penn State. Both teams struggled on third down. Penn State still is committing too many penalties, including spitting on the other team. Really? When you’re winning? Not that losing justifies such behavior but at least we might understand how you could be upset enough to do something like that.
We actually won time of possession, by a small margin.
The Spartan faithful apparently booed their team as they left the field going into halftime. The wet soggy crowd of 70,298 was not happy. The stadium, at least as shown on TV, was never full.
THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:
The Buckeyes continue to roll as they defeated Wisconsin 38-7. Fields spent a few minutes in the medical tent. The game was only 10-0 at the half and the Buckeyes scored a TD late in the second to take that lead into the locker room.
THEM, the wolverines, bounced back from their loss to us to completely embarrass the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 45-14. Even the announcers were chastising the Irish for not showing up. Maybe Michigan is pretty good. I’m glad we played THEM when we did. They will be a force to reckon with going forward.
Indiana secured bowl eligibility by defeating the Cornhuskers 38-31 for their third straight conference win and their first victory in Lincoln since 1959.
Minnesota is now 8-0, after dispatching Maryland 52-10 in Minneapolis.
Iowa beat Northwestern 20-0 with another great defensive effort.
After beating Wisconsin last week, the Illini followed up their encore performance with a victory over Purdue 24-6.
And Rutgers won a game! Not a Big Ten game. Not against an FBS team. But by God they beat Liberty 44-34! Take that, Jerry Falwell!
MEANWHILE . . .
In Manhattan . . . Kansas State held off an Oklahoma comeback as the Sooners appeared to have recovered an onside kick, but on further review were found to be guilty of touching the ball before it went ten yards. K-state won 48-41 in a thriller.
In Baton Rouge . . . LSU hung on to defeat Auburn 23-20. The Tigers are off next week before facing Bama.
In Mobile Alabama . . . it wasn’t the Crimson Tide but App State beat the snot out of South Alabama 30-3 to remain unbeaten on the season.
In Fort Worth . . . TCU upset the 15th ranked Longhorns 37-27.
In Houston . . . SMU remained undefeated by beating the Cougars 34-31.
I will look at the upcoming game with Minnesota next week.