While the devil may have gone down to Georgia, the Lions headed to Alabama for an Auburn Orange-out in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Would that be Ginger-Hair Stadium? Mixed with some white-clad Penn State faithful, it was the largest creamsicle you’ll ever see.
Due to circumstances, I was forced to listen to most of the game on the radio, able to watch only the last quarter of the game on TV. Long story short, I signed up to play in a charity golf tournament in Beaver Falls, PA. I was asked to play last year, but it was the same weekend as the Auburn white-out so I declined. But this year, I figured with a nine o’clock shot-gun start I would be back in time for an 8:00 game. Alas, this game was not played at 8. The weather was great, and I played with my usual links prowess–it was a scramble and most people are scrambling after I hit the ball, but I’d probably have been two under for the day by myself–one under a tree and one under water. So I ended up driving down the ol’ turnpike, trying to keep radio stations playing the game, while signaling touchdowns when we scored and doing the wave all by myself.
That was the short version?
Turns out, this was a game that was just as enjoyable to listen to as it would have been to watch. In fact, it was really nice listening to the PSU radio guys instead of the dimbulbs that often do our national games and seem to hate PSU with every fiber of their being.
The now ranked #14 Nittany Lions brought their A game against AU, playing a nearly flawless four quarters of play. Aside from James Franklin’s questionable call to go for it on fourth down near midfield, early in the game, on the road, in a hostile environment . . . just what the F was he thinking???? Worse yet, your QB just got rocked, fumbled out of bounds, and then you call a QB sneak? I just can’t fathom the disorganization of oxygen-deprived synapses necessary to make that kind of call. And then it led to 3 points, thanks to the D making a stop. In the end, it was as forgettable and unimportant as my drive on the seventh tee. Still have no idea where that ended up.
We also had too many false starts, but . . . there were some holes opened up for the running game and I don’t think the line gave up a sack.
Look carefully in the lower right corner. Brenton Strange is already pointing to the end zone. He knew Singleton was gone at that point, like Babe Ruth calling a home run before he hit it.
Special teams were solid–no missed PATs and two field goals nailed.
Defensively, I was slightly disappointed that we had Auburn in 3rd and long–maybe really long–at least twice and managed to let them get first downs. Other than that? One TD and two FG’s? I’ll take that any day against an SEC team.
The defense did give up 119 rushing yards–but the Tigers only had 77 in the first half if I am correct, and the QB Finley accounted for almost half of those yards (47.) Bigsby was held to 42 yards rushing. As a side note, Bo Nix (the Auburn QB we faced last year who went to Oregon, scored 5 touchdowns en route to an upset of BYU, 41-20!)
Our 41-12 victory was the second largest margin of victory for a Big Ten team over an SEC opponent. (First was Purdue over Missouri 35-3 in 2017.) It was the first home and home sweep over an SEC by a BIG TEN opponent since Northwestern beat Vanderbilt in 2010 and 2012.
And the stat I found most surprising: this telecast on CBS was the first time Penn State had played on that network since losing to Pitt 12-0 in 2000. Twenty-two years without a game on CBS? How is that even possible???? Why hast thou forsaken us, CBS? (It’s money. Than answer is money.)
Despite winning 41-12, the stats were not all that dissimilar. I think you can chalk most of that up to 4 turn-overs by the Tigers. Penn State improved their 3rd down conversion rate to almost 50%. Meanwhile our defense kept the Tigers to about a 33% conversion rate.
In the Big Ten, #3 Ohio State rocked Toledo 77-21. the Hawkeyes blanked Nevada 27-0. Michigan crushed UConn 59-0. Da Badgers put a beat down on 66-7. Maryland bested SMU 34-27 and The Scarlet Knights barely edged Temple 16-14. Indiana barely beat Western Kentucky 33-30. The Gophers defeated Colorado 49-7.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma defeated Big Red 49-14, who apparently sucks even without Scott Frost. The Spartans were upsot by the Washington Huskies 39-28. (So Huskies went 1-1 against the Big Ten.) Northwestern managed to lose to Southern Illinois 31-24, while Purdue lost to Syracuse 32-29. (So Orange went 1-1 against the Big Ten too.)
So where do we stand now? The parallels to last season are becoming eerily familiar. Are we looking at a potential special season ahead? Or are we being set up for another huge disappointment?
Let’s look at the similarities. We still have Clifford. For better or worse, until apparently his death do we part. We opened the season on the road with a tough Big Ten opponent. Wisconsin was actually ranked 12th to start last season although they ultimately were unranked at the end of the season and obviously over-rated. A lot of people thought Purdue would upset Penn State in the opener, and the game was close.
Then we beat Ball State easily. This year it was Ohio. Is there really that much difference there?
And then we hosted Auburn at Beaver Stadium at night in a white-out situation. Nearly everyone expected Auburn to win. But PSU survived 28-20.
And the level of expectations soared after that, as did our ranking.
Then we had a rather unimpressive win over Villanova (38-17) before blanking the Hoosiers 24-0 in Beaver Stadium.
Central Michigan is a more worthy opponent than Villanova in any given year, and Northwestern might be worse than Indiana at this point. The Wildcats lost 31-23 to Duke and then lost to Southern Illinois 31-24 this past weekend. They did beat Nebraska, but then, who hasn’t. (North Dakota, in case you were wondering. It was North Dakota.)
Penn State is already favored by about 25 points over the Chippewas, and it is unlikely Northwestern will defeat us at home.
We should be 5-0 heading on the road to Michigan (currently #4 in the nation.) Last season, we were , drum roll please, 5-0 but headed to Iowa who was ranked #3!
I think I’m having déjà blue all over again!
But is anything different this year?
Well, our back-up Quarterback(s) are better. So if Clifford goes down in Michigan, as he did at Iowa, the season might still be saved. I am almost tempted to type that the season might be saved by him going down, but I would never wish an injury on anyone. But from a purely logical, Spock-like point of view, it might not be a bad thing for the team. I should be careful what I theoretically wish for! The back-up quarterback is almost always a fan favorite, unless Tom Brady is your QB. Or Mahomes. Pick a really good quarterback that wins. You get the idea.
We didn’t have Nicholas Singleton last year. He has had back to back 100+ yard games. And for some reason he only rushes 10 times a game. He wears #10. WTF? Give em’ the ball James. Or at least a Jersey with twenty-something on it.
And our offensive line is playing marginally better. Good enough to compete with Michigan? Who knows?
But for now, we’re 0-0 and facing Central Michigan. Not THE Michigan.
The Chippewas (Chip-a-who-whats?) are 1-2 with a win over Bucknell 41-0. Impressive? That don’t impress me much. They lost to Oklahoma State 58-44. The Okies are ranked 9th and it makes you wonder how the little Chips from Up North pinned 44 points on them. Turns out, the Okies scored 44 in the first half, and CMU scored 22 in the fourth quarter. And that’s Big 12 football. Score a ton and hope the other team doesn’t. No D and All O. NoDallo. A dollar for you, and a dollar for you, but nodallo for CMU!
And CMU also lost 38-24 to South Alabama.
Seriously? I can’t even make something up that would make you think they even have a reasonable chance to beat us. They are not Marshall and WE ARE not Notre Dame.
They are the chips.
But then again, I checked out oddshark to see what they have to say. Despite being a 25.5 point underdog, they are predicting CMU to win!
Typo? Or do they know something I don’t know?
We shall see.
GO STATE! BEAT CHIPS!