It was a gray and dismal day. Earlier in the week, we had bought ribs and chicken to do on the grill. But as the minutes were ticking away, the desire to stand in a windy parking lot outside Beaver Stadium and grill these meats slowly waned. The thought of eating a sandwich in the relative warmth of our vehicle was more and more appealing.
A quick text to our travelling party confirmed that sandwiches would be fine. But then, what about after the game? It would be at least 7:30-8:00 until the game would be over, and probably at least another hour to we get home. Aren’t we going to be hungry then?
So at the last minute, we head to Chili’s to eat a lunch before the game, and then stopped at Sheetz to get sandwiches for after the game. As an added bonus, we could watch the first part of the O$U-UM game before heading to the stadium. Brilliant!
I had the grass fed sunrise burger which was an excellent choice, if you ask me. Unfortunately, Ohio State missed a field goal, and ultimately fell behind the Merry Harbaughs of Ann Arbor.
With this cloud of wolverine spirit hanging over our heads, we continued our quest to Beaver Stadium.
Alas! Someone was parked in my space. Who’s been parking in my place? They are still there. I have had the same reserved spot for twenty years. I have never come to a game to discover squatters. WTH?!
There is no one in the car, but the parking pass hanging from the rear view mirror is for a numbered spot just down the row from mine. So I head there.
Interesting story. The person there says that he parked there because someone was parked in his space. And the person parked in his space was parked there because someone was parked in their space.
He points to an open spot and tells me to “park there.” I ask him what happens if that person shows up and I’m in their space? He says, “I’ll handle it. I’ve got you covered.”
He has me covered? If I get towed, he’ll pay the charge to get my car back? What does that even mean?
What in the bloody wide, wide world of sports is wrong with people?! Earlier this season my sister got into a shouting match with a guy sitting in the seat that she had the ticket to. She shows her ticket and he rips it up and calls her a cunt.
I call 1-800-NITTANY and explain my predicament. They say they will send someone out. Meanwhile, I drank too much iced tea with my burger and I really need to see a man about a horse. So I head off for the port-a-johns, leaving my car in someone else’s space.
By the time I return, there is someone standing there telling me that he will move his car out of my space and he is sorry. He is not the same person I spoke to earlier that claimed the car was his and that he had me covered.
Ohio State is still behind, and even though I ultimately get to my spot, the mojo of the day seemed very bad indeed. My feng shui is out of alignment with the rest of the universe.
Bundled up and well fed, and now worried that I might return to find my car keyed or my tires flat because I made someone move who shouldn’t have been in my space in the first place, I entered the hallowed portals and walkways of Beaver Stadium.
I am quite confident that we will win this game. Unfortunately, I was quite confident that the wolverines would lose with their back-up quarterback. More unfortunately, Speight must have soaked in the healing waters of the Lourdes Grotto and is back playing and hell-bent on denying Penn State a berth in the Big Ten Championship. You already beat us once, man, for the love of God throw us a bone!
I was so confident we would win I replied on a fellow bloggers website (He predicted a 23-20 PSU win):
Senior day. Biggest game at the Beav since what, 2008? Better weather than Piscataway. Only three points? Oy vey! Oy and double oy even. And if Ohio state wins earlier . . . Call me crazy but I am chugging the Kool Aid. PSU by 14. Maybe more if Sparty rolls over and plays dead.
The only thing to cheer about in the first half was the news that Ohio State came from behind to tie UM, and then won in the second OT.
Yet, the team played the script as they had all season.
Penn State came out in the second half and promptly stopped the Spartans on their opening possession for their first three and out. Michigan State did not punt in the first half.
But, they also scored no touchdowns and recovered no turnovers. Once again, the team made adjustments at half time and executed a brilliant game plan on both sides of the ball following the break. The final score was 45-12 and if you felt we were running up the score you might have felt right. I know most Penn State fans felt MSU ran the score up on us last year 55-16 when Jack Allen, an offensive lineman, scored late in the game.
I almost toyed with the idea of titling this week’s entry, A Tale of Two Halves, but then you might not know which game I was writing about.
Let’s look at this phenomenon a bit further. Here are the points scored by PSU and their opponents for each game by halves.
|First Half||Second Half|
As you can see, Penn State was slightly outscored by opponents in the first half–about a point on average. However, the Lions outscored opponents by just over two touchdowns in the second half.
Only two opponents outscored us in the second half–Temple and UM.
Penn State shut out FOUR opponents in the second half, including the last two.
The only losses? Penn State gave up 28 points in the opening quarters, nearly twice the overall average. And but an interception in the end zone at Heinz Field away from a win there. Even in the loss to UM, we scored more points in the second half and allowed fewer. The hole we dug in the first half though, was too deep to climb out of.
Wisconsin is up next in the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis. The Badgers are 10-2 with losses to the usual suspects (O$U and Michigan). They are ranked 6th in the AP and the last CFP poll. Their resume includes a 16-14 win over LSU to start the season. In common opponents, they beat an 8th ranked MSU 30-6. They defeated Iowa 17-9. They lost to Michigan 14-7, much closer than our loss. But we beat the Buckeyes. A 49-20 win over Purdue and a 31-17 victory against the Gophers rounds out the list of common adversaries. The Vegas oddsmakers have the Badgers at about a 3 point favorite currently.
The Badgers have averaged 28.5 points a game, while only allowing 13.7. On the flip side, the Lions are scoring 36,1 points per game while allowing 22.8.
Keys to victory:
It would be great to have Saquon back, but if his injury is such that he can’t play, I think we have some good backs behind him. A healthy Saquon would be a difference maker.
Penn State needs to keep the game close in the first half.
Have FUN–you deserve it. Play hard. Adjust. Play well.
Who knows where this season might end?