Tag Archives: Homecoming

Bye Week Blues and More . . .

Penn State survived the bye week without dropping on either poll–coming in at 7th on the AP poll and 9th on the Coaches Poll.

Of course the Penn State of this season still rests on the health of one starting quarterback, fondly known as Sean Clifford, the Big Blue Lion. Details of his injury are sketchy and speculative, and the date of his return are sketchier yet.

Our future path would look something like this on an Etch-A-Sketch . . .

And to make losing our starting quarterback and the Iowa game even worse, the Hawkeyes got the proverbial #2 kicked out of them by Purdue. (A Purdue fan apparently twitterpated or instasnapped that pithy synopsis but I really like it.)

Unfortunately, as amusing as this Iowa loss to Purdue was (24-7 if you didn’t know!) you could insert Penn State into most of those memes the day after we lost to the Hawkeyes. The loss, a bittersweet karma, dropped the Hawkeyes to 11th place on both polls.

The AP top 4 now has Georgia, Cincinnati, Oklahoma and guess who—Alabama. Cincinnati only plays one more ranked team (SMU currently at 21st.) And while Bama and the Bulldogs will play each other at some point in all likelihood–Georgia should cruise and Alabama just has to get past Auburn– it is certainly foreseeable that one losing to the other wouldn’t necessarily drop the loser out of the playoff! Oklahoma does have some tough games left –Oklahoma State and Baylor. That might open the door for a Big Ten team to creep in. Contrast that with the road Penn State has to travel: Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State–all ranked in the top ten and only Michigan is at home. All of these teams have to play each other in the coming weeks.

But first, we have Illinois!

Homecoming at Beaver Stadium. A nooner start.

The opening line is 23-24 points favoring the Nittany Lions.

The New Mascot of Illinois
But this is what that reminds me of

Illinois is 2-5 with a surprising week one win over Nebraska, 30-22. Seven games later they have only one more win, over Charlotte. The secret apparently didn’t lie with Charlotte.

If Clifford doesn’t play, which I think is probably a real possibility–even if he could play it might be prudent to rest him for the next game. I know. I know. 1-0. Whatever. We should be able to beat the Illini with a back-up quarterback. I don’t think we stand a chance against the Buckeyes with what we saw in Iowa City during the second half.

GO STATE! BEAT ILLINI!

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The Fast and the Victorious

I toyed with titling this episode, The Fast and the Inglorius, but in the end, we were victorious 35-7.

But 28 of those points were scored quickly in just the first 16 minutes of play.  FAST.

Not until Noah Cain (did they say NO GAIN?  NOVACAINE?) ran for two yards with 5:44 left on the clock in the fourth did the Lions add another point to their explosive start.  Is the further lack of stomping on Purdue inglorious?  Who knows?

What happened between then and there?

I think one factor was the interception thrown by Clifford in the second period.  From that point on, it seemed like things changed.  My friend pointed out that we didn’t throw any more crossing routes over the middle like we did last week versus Maryland, and in the early scoring frenzy of this rout.  It was as if Joe Paterno took over the play calling from Ricky Rahne and we went into a prevent offense mode.  Well, maybe not that bad, but the whole feng shui of the offense changed from that point, and not for the better.

Another factor could be the weather.  The wind seemed to be swirling a bit and gusty at times.  I sit in the North End Zone, and the only score in that end zone was a short drive when the Lions failed to finish things up at the end of the first quarter at the other end of the field.  Even our field goal attempt that was missed happened at the North end.

Now it seemed to me as if the wind was blowing into the North End zone (into my face), and traditional football logic is that favors passing teams to play with the wind, but neither team seemed to move the ball northward very well.  Most of the game seemed to be played on the other side of the fifty.

Whatever fire was lit in the first quarter, died in the second, and Noah Cain’s 27 yard-bust up the gut that set up his 2 yard TD run late in the fourth was but a glowing spark from the dying fire.

No matter which half of the game you over-analyze the offense, the defense played another suffocating game against a mid-lower tier Big Ten opponent, playing without their starting QB and wide receiver.

Iowa next week will be our biggest test to date (although Pitt somehow managed to survive a Duke comeback and still win) and I am looking forward to seeing how we handle the Hawkeyes who were only able to put up 3 points in the Big House.

In a way, I’m happy we didn’t continue to roll over Purdue 56-0.  Our kicking miscues (missed FG and kick out of bounds) demonstrate some areas to work on.  Punting returns are still adventurous, but mostly because teams won’t chance kicking directly to KJ.  And our offense needs to continue working on some consistency.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Another week of pick a number, any number, and it probably favors Penn State.

PurduePete

Purdue managed only 104 total yards and that includes -19 yards rushing.  MINUS 19.

Penn State won time of possession 33:38 to 26:22.  Still probably means nothing.

Purdue converted just one of 15 third down attempts, and 0-1 fourth down attempts.

INTANGIBLES:

The official attendance was 106,536.

Penn State is 72-23-5 in Homecoming games.

PSUtrumpets

Penn State leads the series over the Boilermakers 15-3-1.

The Drum Major stuck both flips.  The Alumni Band performed with their usual indomitable spirit.

Tommy Stevens was among the Alumni who returned to Happy Valley.

Penn State moved up 2 pots on both polls (AP/Coaches) to 10/9 respectively.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

The Buckeyes avoided a third straight loss to the Spartans, but were rattled a little bit early on.  They get some separation late in the second quarter,taking a 27-10 lead into the half.  The final score was 34-10 with only 7 points coming in the second half.  Didn’t we just read a bout another team that did the same?  At home?  Weird, huh?

At the Big House, THEM scored just three points off four turn-overs, but still won 10-3 over the Hawkeyes in Ann Arbor.

Wisconsin shut out Kent State, winning 48-0.

Maryland rebounded against Rutgers 48-7.  Not a good start for the Scarlet Knights interim head coach Nunzio Campanile.

Minnesota blasted the Illini 40-17.

And Nebraska kicked a FG as time expired to beat Northwestern 13-10.

MEANWHILE . . . 

In Durham . . . Pitt squandered a 26-3 lead and found themselves behind 30-26 with 1:29 left in the game.  But those pesky panthers weren’t done.  Pitt scored with 38 seconds still remaining to upset the Duke Blue Devils 33-30.

In South Bend . . . Notre Dame cruised past Bowling Green 52-0.  Ian Book threw for 5 touchdowns.  Is he any relation to Mac Book?  Does he use a Surface too?

In the Swamp . . . 10 Florida defeated #7 Auburn 24-13.

And in Cincinnati . . . the Bearcats hand the previously ranked UCF Knights their second loss, 27-24.

LOOKING AHEAD:

The Lions head to Iowa for a prime time game with the Hawkeyes.

IowaSchedule

From ESPN

So with no common opponents, what can we say?

I think the key to this game is whether or not we can score against the Hawkeye defense, and avoid costly turn-overs (don’t pay more than $1.50 for the apple ones!)  Iowa is generally well coached.  Their atmosphere will be electric.  The sick kids in the hospital over looking the stadium will be rooting for Iowa.  But I really think our defense will keep the Hawkeyes off the board for the most part.  In teams with a pulse, Iowa scored 18 versus Iowa State and 3 against the wolverines.  I don’t see them scoring 18 against us, but they have not allowed more than 17 points to anyone yet.  I think that will change, but I have less confidence in our offense than our D at this point in the season,and I think it is generally more difficult for offenses on the road than defenses.

I saw one line with Penn State as a 3.5 point favorite.

GO STATE!  BEAT HAWKS!

 

 

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Trojan Lion

Those sneaky Greeks!  The Spartans snuck their best warriors into Beaver Stadium . . . we welcomed them amidst cheers and jubilation!–under the guise of a wooden Lion– a fake gift of a homecoming foe in the throes of a mediocre season.

And we fell for it.

What can you say after a 21-17 loss that saw PSU tumble from the lofty rank of 8th in the nation to 18th place in the AP poll (16th in the Coaches who felt sorrier for us.)

I don’t know what to say.  I don’t even know where to begin.

PatrickStar

PENN STATE IN THE FOURTH QUARTER

So I asked myself, as I pondered this dilemma . . . what do my readers want?  (I only have like 5 regulars, and I think a couple of them are on heavy medications.)  Jimmy might by 45 and living in his mother’s basement,  But I digress.

Do you come here for the brilliant analysis of a post game?  I highly doubt it.  I’m not an X’s and O’s kind of guy.  (I hate Tic-tac-toe.)  I know less about the game than the talking heads on ESPN that we all make fun of.  But at least most of them either coached the game at some level, or played the game themselves.  I have done neither.  If I’m no longer your hero, I understand.

Is it the humorous repartee that keeps you coming back?

A Michigan State fan walks into a bar.  The Penn State fan ducks.

Nope.  Can’t be that.

I’m not really sure I know why you come to this site, but I’m going to go out on a limb here.  It’s Fellowship.  Kinship.  An exchange of thoughts and emotions that only armchair quarterbacks and true fans of the game can understand.  Misery loves company, and celebrations are better with more than one person–your mother upstairs doesn’t count Jimmy.  My weekend is ruined–ruined Andre, we’re ruined!–when Penn State loses.  The sun may come up Sunday morning, but I really don’t give a flying fart if we lost.  I’d rather live a dark Sunday after a win, than a beautiful day that mocks my mood after a loss.

We can over-analyze the facts–the stats, the outcomes, until we’re blue and white in the face.  It won’t change what happened.  But there is a catharsis in the discussion; a cleansing of our football souls.

We should have won that game.  And the one before it, but don’t get me started about that again.

Are we over-rated?  Apparently.  Thank you Mr. Obvious.

After last week’s loss, Coach Franklin spoke about Penn State not playing at an elite level.  We were a great team, but not quite at that elite level.  Well, James, I’ve got news for you.  We are not a great team.  Whereas the Buckeyes can make a pretty sound argument for being an elite team, Michigan State?  Not so much.

We lost to a very pedestrian, very mediocre Spartan team on Saturday.  And while the score looked close, we were not very good and quite frankly, we deserved to lose.  I think we are capable of playing better than we did the last two games, but the results do not support that.

And therein lies the rub.

My anger, frustration, dismay, pain . . feel free to throw in whatever adverse emotions you felt as you watched that game play out . . . really comes down to a mismatch between my perception of reality . . . and reality itself.

I thought we were a great team.  I thought we had a chance to go to the play-offs.  I thought this was going to be a special season (and I’m sorry if you are one of those fans that thinks 10-2 is a special season, because IT IS NOT.)  There will be no Big Ten Title.  There will be no play-off game.  No National Championship.

At Penn State, we fans have been spoiled by our school’s historical success.  In any given year, there is only ONE team (in the past before the BCS and play-off committees, there could be multiple titles based on different polls) but even if you allow 2 teams per year to win, the odds of a school winning a title are pretty dismal.  If there are 120 Bowl Division teams, that chance is one in 120.

Yale has the most titles–18–but has not won a national trophy since 1927.

Alabama is second with 15.  Five have come within the last nine years.

Only 60 colleges can claim at least 1 national football title.  Only 43 have more than one.  In addition to Yale and Princeton, that list also includes these schools that either no longer play football, or won’t be considered for a title ever again:  Chicago, Centre, Washington & Jefferson, Detroit, Dartmouth, Lafayette, and Colgate.

Winning a championship is special.  My oldest child was born in 1994.  She has never seen Penn State play for a national championship.

And when a 10-2 season comes down to five points, that is really too close to just dismiss off-handedly.  (I am assuming we win the rest, but hey, don’t bet your money on my predictions.)

Dammit, we were so close.  And with Georgia, Washington and West Virginia losing, we really could have moved up in the world.

As it is, we are what we are.  And it’s not special.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Out of 15 drives by MSU, 7 drives were less than 5 plays.  For PSU, not counting the knee to end the first half and the 13 second “drive” to end the game, the Lions had 14 drives, with only FOUR going for more than 4 plays.

MSU had 25 first downs.  We had 14.  I just shake my head.

Which explains the lopsided time of possession, which the Spartans won by 34:12 compared with our 25:48.

The Box Score listed only 6 penalties for PSU for 41 yards,  It seemed like a lot more than that because some of them were key penalties that kept MSU drives alive without actually yielding much yardage.  MSU had 3 penalties for 20 yards, and two of those were false starts possibly related to the crowd noise.  None of the reviews went in our favor.

Michigan State out gained us 418 to 397 yards.  Just incredible.

INTANGIBLES:

There was not one single intangible that did not favor PSU.  Home game.  Homecoming crowd of 106,685.  Stripe out.  Saquon Barkley and Michael Mauti on the sidelines.  Revenge for last year’s late loss.  The drum Major stuck both flips.  Ranked freaking 8th in the nation with an outside shot at making the play-offs.

We should be glad the NCAA doesn’t penalize us for wasting our advantages.

And to the “next year is our year crowd” . . .  Bull.  Shit.  THIS WAS OUR YEAR!!!  Senior QB.  Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan State at home with Michigan being the only road game of any contention.  Next year’s home schedule is Idaho, Buffalo, Pitt, Purdue, Michigan, Indiana and Rutgers.  Woo freaking hoo.  If you are a season ticket holder that likes to sell their tickets, I wouldn’t bother buying next year.  There’s only one game there you’ll be able to sell for any real money.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

The F*CKEYES are still number one.  You don’t need to waste any more time worrying about it.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Indiana.

That’s all I got.

Fighting for a place in that Taxslayer Bowl.  Or maybe James Franklin will take us to the Franklin American Mortgages Music City Bowl.  Cocktails at Mike Reid’s house.

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