Tag Archives: Humor

It’s Just a Flesh Wound!

fleshwound

“I can still play!”        “You’ve got no arms!”         “It’s just a flesh wound!”

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The Pennsyltucky Bowl

Or, as some people call it, the Citrus Bowl.

If the Rose Bowl is the Grandaddy of them all, the Citrus Bowl is the second cousin once-removed of them all.

Pennsyltucky is a portmanteau.  Herein I will further elucidate this subject for your perusal, because quite frankly, unless you are a Kentucky Wildcat, the game itself is not worthy of discussion.

pennsyltucky1

A portmanteau is a not only a large trunk or suitcase, typically made of stiff leather and opening into two equal parts, but is also a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others, for example motel (from ‘motor’ and ‘hotel’) or brunch (from ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’).

My personal favorite portmanteau, at this point in my life, is this:

masturdating

I have been found matsurdating in public quite a bit.  But I digress.

Where the Snell was I?

Citrus Bowl.  Pennsyltucky Bowl . . .

Pennsyltucky Plate

Pennsyltucky . . . the term is used to describe all of Pennsylvania outside of the metropolitan regions. The word is a portmanteau constructed from “Pennsylvania” and “Kentucky”, implying a similarity between the two states’ mostly rural sections, a connection that exists in fact after numbers of Western Pennsylvanians left the state for Kentucky after the Whiskey Rebellion. It can be used in either a pejorative or an affectionate sense.

pennsyltuckyWVA

I was rooting for Penn State to come back, not just because I am a freakish Penn State fan whose whole outlook on life is affected by the mere outcome of a game, but just so I could answer all those Snell Yeah signs . . .

Snell yeah

With a resounding Snell NO!

SnellNo

Alas, we lost and now it’s just a wasted dream in the sea of college football commentary.

What the Snell happened?

We were 6 and a half point favorites.  We had McSorley in his final game.  We were arguably a couple of late fourth quarter collapses away from a better bowl game against a better opponent.

But we couldn’t even handle this one.

In the hours and day after this debacle, I have seen the words near-comeback and gutsy competitor bandied around like ping pong balls in a lottery drawing.

Everything that has plagued this team in the James Franklin Era replayed itself in 60 minutes of regulation football.

Special teams problems.  Questionable coaching decisions.  Poor clock management.  But the biggest one of all:  MISSED OPPORTUNITIES.

Missed opportunities.  So close.  It’s reminiscent of the Franklin post-game speech about being great, but not quite elite.

McSorley, this team–good, but just not quite great.

At the end of the day, at the end of the season, this team is 9-4.  That’s good if you are Northwestern.  That’s great if you are Akron.  You’re on top of the world if you root for Buffalo.

But here at Penn State, that bar was set higher than that.  We can argue about the pros and cons of that till we’re blue and white in the face, but that’s the fact jack.

A young Joe Paterno, with a school not historically considered a powerhouse in football, began a remarkable career.  With a combination of recruiting and coaching he built an Empire, while still maintaining academic excellence.  The peak of said Empire was in the 1980’s when he recruited and coached his way to TWO National Championships.  As he aged, he did less hands on recruiting, and probably less hands on coaching.  And it showed.  In the 2000’s his great teams–2002, 2005, 2008–came close to the glory of the 80’s, but fell short.  Sometimes by a mere two seconds.

Missed opportunities.

Penn State had more total yards (407-297), and only 15 fewer rushing yards than Kentucky.  We had more first downs, although our third down conversion percentage was poor.  We also had two turn-overs, and quite frankly, the botched fake punt was as good as a turn-over.  Had it worked–brilliant.  As it is, what the Snell was he thinking?

Coach Franklin didn’t miss two field goals.  He didn’t let Kentucky run a punt back for a touchdown.  He didn’t cause a pass to sail high over an open receiver.  Maybe he should have gone for it on fourth in the fourth quarter.  Maybe not.  Hindsight is always 20/20.  Trust me.  I’m an eye doctor.  If he’d have chosen to go for it and Penn State didn’t make it then people would be yelling we should have kicked the field goal.  Or, we should have used a different play.

The very fact that game came down to that critical play is because of all the other decisions along the way.

I’m not in a place in my personal life right now that I would choose to be in.  Yet, I am where I am because of the choices I made.

As disheartening as this loss was, the future is still hopeful.  For the team.  Not me.  Recruiting is excellent.  Sometimes talent can overcome bad coaching.

But for now, there is only reflection as we wait for the next season to dawn.

PensyltuckyGrill

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Terrapinned

Who would have thought the Nittany Lions, struggling to defeat the likes of Rutgers just a mere week ago (whilst Maryland did their very best to upset Ohio State, but I guess their best wasn’t good enough) would showcase their best offensive scoring game since defeating the Illini back on September 21st, en route to making turtle soup out of the terrapins 38-3?  A question mark?  Well, it was a question that started a long time ago in a paragraph far far away.  But it’s more rhetorical anyway.

The Citizen’s Bank button this week read:  NO FEAR HERE.  An obvious reference to Fear the Turtle!  I admit it.  I was afraid!

FearTurtle

I did not have a good feeling coming into this game, and truth be told, it’s the first game I thought sure we might lose.  Yes, I thought we had a chance to upset Michigan.  We should have beaten both MSU and OSU, and probably a host of other letter SU’s.  But I feared we were regressing, especially on offense.  And while the seniors always want to go out with a win on their home turf, we know that is not always possible.  Maryland doesn’t care about Trace.  But they do care about going to a bowl.  Or they should.  Maybe they don’t.  Either way, this loss not only continued the domination PSU has in this all-time series, but it effectively ended the terrapins season, not being bowl eligible with only 5 wins.

The only thing bad about the day was the weather, and truth be told it was not that bad for me at least.  My seats are conveniently located underneath the North end zone upper deck, so while the rain continued to precipitate at the outset of the game, I only suffered minor water damage getting from the parking lot to my seat.  And I thought the Wisconsin game felt colder.  But I’m no Joe Murgo.  I’m more Les Nessman.  Eye witness news.  I witness the news, or in this case the weather.  Have you actually lasted this long reading as I go on and on about the freaking weather?  Rhetorical.  Don’t bother to answer.  Move on to the next paragraph, please.

So we racked up 565 yards of total offense, 38 points, averaged 7.0 yards per carry rushing and kicked a field goal in a pear tree.  Tis the season.

Miles Sanders still managed to cough the ball up again, but it didn’t lead to points for Maryland, my Maryland.

Trace McSorley led his team on senior day as he should.  Eighteen other players ran out of the tunnel in Beaver Stadium for the last time as well.  They are deserving of our praise and thanks.  I was listening to a radio show on the way home from the game, wherein the radio personalities were discussing how in 2011, most of the college football world left Penn State for dead.  Many thought it would be at least a decade before Penn State was relevant again.  Yet, in 2016-2018, here we are.  Thank you seniors!

While this season may not have lived up to my hopes and expectations, a 9-3 season is nothing to sneeze at.  It’s hypoallergenic.  And a third consecutive 10 win season is now achievable as well.  That is a feat that Penn State has not replicated since the 1980-82 seasons.

We have only to wait as teams above us duke it out in Championship games–I’m guessing about half those teams lose–and the margins of those losses and which teams lose will likely determine which bowl game Penn State plays in.  Good gravy, was that a worthless observation or what?  Of course those games are going to impact where we go and who we play.  Why wouldn’t they?  Why point that out?  I apparently have a season quota of rhetorical questions, and I am behind on reaching that quota.

Perhaps I will return with a preview of our stellar bowl match-up when we actually know what that match-up might be.

I’m not even going to delve into the rumors of USC firing their coach and going after James Franklin.  Fake news!  Nothing to see here, folks.  Move on to the next site on the interwebs.

But I will leave you with this puzzle.

Is the Maryland Terrapin mascot a woman?

I ask this in all seriousness.  At one point, Testudo (the actual name of the terrapin turtle mascot) was heckling a couple Penn State players on the sideline.  But the more I watched, the more I was convinced that Testudo was liking what she saw.  Now I’m no more a herpetologist than I am a meteorologist–dammit Jim, I’m just a doctor!–but the way she walked and swung her arms–it appeared feminine.  I think it was a mating ritual!  I tried to Google the identity of the person beneath the shell, but I came up empty and with one PFA.  Who knew cyberstalking was illegal?  Rhetorical!

But I did come across an article that posits that the terrapin mascot is female.

The smaller size of Testudo’s tail, as well as Testudo’s more rounded carapace, support the conclusion that our terrapin is female.

And another thing: Testudo is a terrapin. Specifically, a diamondback terrapin, species name Malaclemys terrapin. Referring to Testudo as a turtle is too vague, too general, too all encompassing; there are over 300 species of turtles. The size of turtles varies a lot. Some are as small as a few inches. Other turtles are as large as several feet. Moreover, Terp is an abbreviation for terrapin, not for turtle. If we were to use turtle, its abbreviation would be turt — at least until the competition finds out and translates it to turd. When we meet alumni, we don’t identify ourselves as turtles — we identify ourselves as terrapins. Our battle cry should not be “Fear the turtle”; it should be “Fear the Terrapin.”

Fear the Turd!  Not!

And I have nothing to fear but fear myself.

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Hard Days Knight

The Altoona Mirror headline read: Ho hum . . . still won.  My fellow blogger, the Nittany Turkey, fell asleep.

Rutgers may be the birthplace of college football, but Saturday afternoon, it was deathbed of college football relevance.

Penn State, a 28 point favorite and ranked somewhere around 14-16, came to High Point Stadium (pretty much an oxymoron there) to face the 1-9 (now 1-10) Scarlet Knights, in a battle for virtually nothing.  And both teams played like it.

To give Rutgers credit for hanging in there and trying, undermines how little enthusiasm and effort the Nittany Lions displayed in this game.  Had their quarterback not dropped a wide open pass in the end zone–a terrific trick play with a half back pass, which guess what?  worked against our defense–AGAIN–the final score could have been 20-14.  Maybe worse.

Let’s make note that Alabama and The Citadel (that’s THE Citadel in case you are wondering) were tied at 10 at the half.  Of course, Alabama actually played the second half, ultimately winning 50-17.

After intense coaching adjustments and renewed play-calling, we managed to score a whole 7 points in the second half, which basically offset the 7 points Rutgers scored in the fourth quarter as well.

How can I make this write-up any more interesting than the game itself?

I did manage to stay awake for the whole game, a combination of fear that we would actually lose to Rutgers, and choosing to watch the game from the bar in Champs.

There were three young women–hell, they all look young to me!–sitting around the corner of the oval bar, one a blonde, facing me, the other two were obstructed by other patrons–my sister and her boyfriend.  I figure they must be at least 21 to be sitting at the bar, but I’m pretty sure they were under 30.  I’m old enough to be their father.  But Luke, I am NOT their father.  Probably doesn’t help my argument here.  But quite frankly, they were still more interesting than the game, especially the blonde who was facing me.

The first half, they looked kind of bored.  Little conversation.  Checking their phones.  No smiles.  Kind of hoping the blonde would make serious eye contact with me at some point, but secretly scared to death she would.  Actually just hoping she wouldn’t catch me staring at her.

We just intercepted the Scarlet Knights in the second quarter.  A few plays later we scored.  They play Zombie Nation at Champs after scores and big plays–it’s just like being at Beaver Stadium.  Well, NOT.  But in this case, there was all the enthusiasm in the bar you might expect if the organist were to play Kernkraft 400 at a funeral.  O-o-o-o-oh, o-o-o-o-o-o-o-oh.  O-oh.  O-oh.  We Knew Dead Guy! O-o-o-o-oh . . .

The dynamic changed after half time.  Not the game.  What are you thinking!?  We played the same shitty football we played in the first half.  Maybe worse.  At least the D shut Rutgers out in the first half.

No.  At half time, some young stud–they all look young!–came over and stood between two of the girls.  Thin but good build if you notice things like that.  Full head of black hair.  Neatly trimmed beard.  Much closer to their age than moi.

womanatbar

You are soooo much more interesting than the Penn State game!

So the second half of the game became an exercise in who would score first–the young dude, or Penn State.  He stood there the whole time.  His dedication and perseverance were phenomenal!

I did notice the girls were now smiling.  Laughing.  Having a good time–because they were interacting with young stud and not the game.

I don’t even think he offered to buy them drinks!  What the hell is his secret? (Youth.)  I don’t want to hear that!  I can’t handle the YOUTH!

I wonder if he scored after the game?

POST MORTEM:

We have steadily declined since the Pitt game, as if defeating them were a curse on us.  And to make matters worse, Pitt is going to the ACC championship game.  Oh, the humanity!  As God as my witness, I thought panthers could fly!

We have Maryland coming to Beaver Stadium next Saturday, at 3:30, so we won’t be able to blame a loss on the early start time.  The Terps almost upset the Buckeyes, finally losing in OT 52-51, which does not bode well for us.  Maryland is also not bowl eligible.  Very, very bad for us.  They have much to play for.  We’re playing for, well, pride maybe?  We’re going to show up.  In body if not spirit.  We’re just coasting to that late December Bowl Game yet to be named after a yard tool or a fruit.

Trace picked up another milestone–30 wins as a starting QB, passing the previous mark of 29 shared by Todd Blackledge and Tony Sacca.

I hope we play better next week.  Or I’m going to have to find a cute blonde in the north end zone to keep me awake.

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Ioween: The Night He Came Home

Michael Myers wore a Captain James T. Kirk mask.  Kirk Ferentz grew up in the Pittsburgh area of Pennsylvania.    In 1998 he became the Head Coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes.  20 years later . . . HE CAME HOME.

KirkIoween

On a gloomy, wet day on Halloween weekend, Kirk Ferentz and his gruesome band of Hawkeyes (they taste just like chicken I am told!), put a scare into Penn State and Nittany Nation, as the Lions escaped Beaver Stadium’s Little Shop of Punting Horrors with a 30-24 win that shouldn’t have been that close.

Penn State won the toss and elected to put it’s offense on the field.  (Hey, let’s go into this spooky house!  Looks like fun!) After two incomplete passes sandwiched around a one yard gain, the Lions lined up to punt.  (What was that noise?  I don’t know.  Let’s split up and check it out!)

The punt never got off.  Well, it did, late after a bobbled snap, and was blocked.  Fortunately, the ball rolled through the end zone for only a safety.

After the free kick and a 22 yard return, the Hawkeyes set up shop on their own 44.  Stanley intentionally grounded the ball on the first play, but then connected beautifully for a 29-yard gain.  The Hawkeyes fumbled!  (Michael Myers has been hit!  He’s down!)  No.  Wait.  Somehow Iowa recovered the fumble.  (The body’s gone!  He’s still alive!!!) Our defense–which just doesn’t seem to be able to get a three-and out if their lives depended on it, and in any horror movie, your life does depend on it, allowed the Hawks to get to as far as the four yard line before settling for a field goal from the 9.  We tried to rip that facemask off Michael Myers, but we failed.  And there is a penalty to pay for that.

But down 5-0, we are still alive.  Sort of.  Three plays and minus 15 yards later, we are back to punt again.  (Cue the Halloween theme music.)  We did manage to get the punt off, but shanked it out of bounds.

With a starting position at the PSU 42, Ferentz and company went to work, carving up the Lion’s defense like a jack-o-latern.  Now we be down 12-0 and without so much as a first down of our own to show for it.

But Penn State wouldn’t let these B-movie slashers have all the fun.  McSorley and Sanders worked their magic and Penn State pulled to within 5 with a pass to Freiermuth to make it 12-7.

The defense then somehow, someway, managed a three and out and Iowa was forced to punt.  And just as momentum was shifting our way, we go incomplete, three yard rushing gain and then a sack to set up for our third punt.  The eerie music swells in a crescendo that sent the snap over Gillikin’s head.  Once again, the Lions are fortunate that the snap sailed through the end zone for only another safety.

Two safeties in one game?  (Flashback sequence to another wet, dreary day when the Hawkeyes prevailed 6-4.) I still shudder.

Worse yet, Jamie Lee Franklin’s team took a hit as McSorley was injured on the sack.  But after a John Reid interception, Tommy Stevens stepped in and rushed the remaining three yards  for a touchdown that tied the score at 14-14.

The teams would go into the half knotted up at 17.

In the second half, Iowa would get the ball first, and after ripping off a 23 yard rush to near midfield, our defense tightened again, and forced a punt.  Trace McSorley, back in the game (it was just a flesh wound!) worked his magic and ran 51 yards for paydirt.  The Lions took their first lead of the day.

Penn State would add another field goal to stretch that lead over Michael Myers 27-17.  No way could the monster in the Hawkeye mask catch up to us now.

Yet somehow, although he plods along while the hero runs, he still catches up.  Almost.  The Hawks are within three points.

KJ Hamler returned the kick-off 67 yards and Penn State looked poised to finish off the bad guy once and for all.  But Michael fought back fiercely, blinded in one eye, and held the Lions to another field goal.  30-24.

Michael was only 6 points behind.  A mere TD and an extra point from finishing us off.

And Iowa was moving the ball.

We had a chance to stop them on fourth down–no wait!  (We stopped him!) We jumped off sides!  (No–he’s on the move again!  He’s still coming!!!!) Horrors!

They drove the ball down to the 17 yard line, precious seconds ticking away.

Do we let them score quick so we have time to get in position for a field goal?  Or do we hope the monster can finally be stopped? You just know the killer isn’t going to die!  You can’t stop him.

Interception Nick Scott!  At the the three yard line!  (Michael Myers is down!  Should we shoot him again just to be sure?  No.  There’s only 3:18 left in this film.  He’s dead.)

But Nick Scott only stumbles out to the 9 and PSU must run off some clock.  (In the background, as we breathe a sigh of relief, Michael sits up.)

We manage to get the ball out to the 33, but there is still 1:23 left on the clock for Michael to wreak his revenge . . . (Dammit!  He’s still alive!!!!)

But Jamie survives and lives to face Michael on another day.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Just like last week, the opponent out-performed our Nittany Lions in almost every category except scoring points.

Iowa had more first downs, more rushing, passing and total yards, and won what my fellow blogger the Nittany Turkey calls the “increasingly irrelevant” time of possession by 10 minutes.  (In horror films, that’s time enough for at least a dozen deaths.)  Third down conversions were slightly better by the Hawks (7-20 vs. 4-14.)  They notched 2 safeties, but not due to their prowess but to our ineptitude at snapping the ball.

However, they had one more INT and that is the key difference, although they still had another chance with a little over a minute to go.  We end with the hero still alive, but we all know that Iowa will be back.

PennStatePumpkin

INTANGIBLES:

Up by 10 and moving the ball, we fumbled.  We just can’t seem to put an opponent away in the waning moments of a game.  After the interception, we forced them to use their timeouts.  ONE FIRST DOWN and you WIN.  We failed-again.  Pundits are quick to criticize the coaches, but the coaches didn’t mishandle the fumble exchange, nor did they snap the ball poorly on two punts.  Maybe they need to work on some fundamentals more in practice (tackling in the first quarter jumps to mind as well,) but we can’t blame everything on our coaches.  But  a fourth quarter offensive scheme that works might have won a championship this year.

Crowd listed at 105, 244.  Yeah right.  Tickets sold, not bodies cold.  Still, a decent crowd for the weather conditions.

We won the toss.  Cost us 2 points.

No drum major flips–field too wet.

The Lions are riding a five-game win streak over the Hawkeyes. which ties the previous win streak record in this series.

Military Appreciation Day!  Thank you veterans and active service personnel!

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

Both Michigan and Ohio State sat out the weekend.  They looked bored.  To death.

Wisconsin lost to Northwestern 31-17.  Wow.

Minnesota defeated Indiana 38-31.  We softened them up for you, go-fair.

A week after Purdue upsot the Buckeyes, they fall to the Spartans, 23-13.

Maryland trounced the Illini 63-33.

And Nebraska beat Bethune-Cookman (I guess that’s a school?) 45-9.  Nice job not screwing up that one.

LOOKING AHEAD:

This is another Big One Elizabeth.

The Lions will travel to Ann Arbor next week to take on the Wolverines at the Out House at 3:45.  Penn State is 14/13 in the polls.

THEM (as in The-M) is 6-1 and undefeated in conference play.  They are ranked 5th in the nation with a lone loss to the Irish of South Bend.  Their closest victory was a 20-17 come from behind win over Northwestern.

I’m not one for predictions, but I think if we go a third week where the opponent dominates every positive statistical category, I think we will lose.  A lot will depend on how hurt McSorley was and how he recovers from that.

The wolverines open as a 10-point favorite..

GO STATE!  BEAT THEM!

 

 

 

 

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Blooming Ton of Crap

If you face palmed so hard that you’re now cross-eyed . . . you might be a Penn State fan.

TripleFacePalm

If you’re standing on a ledge, despite your team winning . . . you might be a Penn State fan.

I could go on and on, over and over again, repeating the same crap . . . but that would make me a Penn State fan!

Seriously!

33-28, and the Hoosiers not only recover an on-sides kick to gain possession for a possible upsetting score, but they do so because the Nittany Lions shot themselves in the tail–once again–with a penalty mistake.  How can you line up with too many men on one side of the field?  It’s apparently easier than it sounds.  I did not know that was a penalty.  But I am not being paid multiple millions of dollars to know that interesting, and possibly game changing, piece of trivia.

The Hoosiers won nearly every statistical category–total yards, passing yards, rushing yards, first downs, time of possession, better conversion percentages for third and fourth downs–yet still lost the game.  Glad I’m not a Hoosier blogger –I don’t have to recap that crap!

The only thing that saved us was Indiana had 7 penalties to 3 for us, and one more turn-over.  We also were 5-5 in the red zone (albeit only 3 TDs) while the Hoosiers were 3-4 in the Del Grosso Red Zone. And therein is the difference in the game.

Am I happy that we won?

Hell yes.

But could we just start playing–and coaching–a little smarter?

What did you think of the botched fake punt?  There have been times when we’re punting from the opponents 40 yard line where I thought, hey, the odds are you’re going to kick into the end zone for a touchback.  So you’re maybe giving up 20 yards if you fail.

But with the score tied in the first quarter, it seemed . . . rather desperate.  And it was poorly executed, like we had never even practiced it before.

Sure, if it had worked, and we went on to score, it could have looked brilliant.

But the coaching issue I fear goes a little more deeply.  What has happened to our offense?  Is it simply a product of facing defenses of better quality than Pitt and Kent State?

McSorley has been awful on the deep throws.  That is not coaching per se, but maybe it is time to switch things up.  Give the other guys a series or two.  My friend, who has watched more Penn State football than I in his lifetime, thinks McSorley had/has an injury.  The last three games, he certainly has lost his touch.  He has made up for it with his legs, but do we want to be a team that depends on its quarterback for most of our rushing yardage?  I guess if it works . . .

But again, I told you last week I’m not an x’s and o’s kind of guy.  I don’t know if the play calling really is different, or just the results, but my sense is that we have become predictable and bland.

We are Bob Ross, painting an offense.  Let’s put a happy little wide receiver over here.  There’s nothing wrong with having a tight end as a friend.  I guess I’m a little weird. I like to talk to footballs and pylons. That’s okay though; I have more fun than most people.  Lets build a happy little quarterback sneak.  Let’s get crazy and try a fake punt here, for no reason at all.  We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents.

BobRoss

Penn State Football in a nutshell.

A happy accident.  That sums up the Indiana game in a nutshell.

STREAKING:

The Tide continues to roll, but the Buckeyes streak of wins ended at Purdue.  I don’t know what team Urban Meyer took to West Lafayette, but that was not the team he brought to Beaver Stadium.  Dude!  Someone stole his team!

Trace McSorley’s streak of games with a touchdown pass ended.  Tommy Stevens threw the only touchdown pass of the game.

We snapped a two game losing streak.

Nebraska snapped their own 10 game losing streak with a victory over the Gophers.

Rutgers extended their losing streak to 7.

The Big (Ten) Picture:

Michigan trumped Michigan State to take the mid-term lead in the Big Ten Polls.

Wisconsin beat Illinois 49-20.

The Haweyes shut out Maryland 23-0.  Sure hope we don’t have to face that defense.

The Cornhuskers defeated Minnesota 53-28.

Northwestern beat Rutgers 18-15.  Oh, Scarlet Knights, you were soooo close.

And living vicariously through the Boilermakers, Purdue downed Ohio State 49-20.  Read.  That.  Again.  49-20.  The Buckeyes looked lost.  Seriously, it was like the Keystone Kops on some of their defensive plays.  (Or, ahem, like Penn State’s defense at times.)

And if you are tracking the College Football Champion . . . Purdue now has that title, as Ohio State took it from us, and then lost it to Purdue.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Iowa comes to Beaver Stadium next week at 3:30.  The Haweyes are ranked 18th.  The home team is ranked 17/16.  (Appalachian State is 25th!)

They have a home loss to Wisconsin 28-17, but wins over Minnesota (48-31), Indiana 42-16–uh oh) and Maryland (23-0).  Their record is 6-1 overall with OOC victories over Iowa State, Northern Iowa, and Northern Illinois.

The early betting line has Penn State favored by 6.  I am not making that up.. I don’t know why.  Don’t ask me.

GO STATE!  BEAT HAWKS!

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Flash-eating Lions

The Penn State Nittany Beast extracted it’s pound of flash from Kent State, en route to a 63-10 feast on a nearly perfect weather day for football. After being told all week to prepare for rain (the groundhogs were apparently wrong) the weather was anything but bad–perhaps even too hot for the fans in the direct sun.

But it was not all fun and games.

KSUmascots

“I do NOT taste like Chicken!”   Photo by Curtis Chan

The Lions scored on the second play of the game, only to have the points erased by a holding penalty. The offense bogged down after that and we ended up punting. However, the Kent State Flashes would have none of that, and repaid the gift we gave them by roughing our punter. We went on to score.

7-0. We’re looking good. Everyone in the stadium was confident of a victory now.
Kent State took possession and moved the ball to midfield. On a fourth and five play, we jumped off-sides. Gift possession arrow shifts back to KSU. They capitalized on our mistake with a forty seven yard pass play (I believe we were off-sides again so it was another free play.)

7-7. With just over five minutes played, the Flashes have already scored more points than Pitt did in an entire game.

They executed an on-sides kick. We were apparently not prepared for that (more on that later.)

I’m in the shade of the North end zone upper deck, but now I am sweating too. It’s de ja blue all over again. It was only two weeks ago on this hallowed field that Appalachian State recovered an on-side kick (in a situation we should clearly have been prepared for . . . fourth quarter, time running out and they were behind) that sparked a comeback in regulation to force an over-time.

But the Nittany Lion coaches and players were not rattled like the fans, and managed to squelch any chance of KSU taking a lead. BTW I will refer to Kent State as KSU, and the stadium announcer should do so as well. Kent State and Penn State sound exactly the same over the sound system. We could never be sure who was doing what if we didn’t actually watch the game!!  Frog protection?  Fraud protection!  Was that penalty on Penn State?  Yes.  Kent State.

KSU would add a field goal off a tipped INT by McSorley. The Flashes had first and goal from the seven–and then the five on a pass interference call.  But the defense was stifling, and they did not allow a point in the second half.

The offense and special teams used a number of weapons to “run up” 9 touchdowns (seven different people scored) including a highlight reel, record setting play by back-up QB Sean Clifford who hit Daniel George for a 95-yard TD pass that is the longest play from scrimmage in PSU history.

And we didn’t run up the score. Two of those touchdowns were scored with Clifford in the game and if you knew we had a Daniel George or a Jonathon Thomas on the roster before they scored, I commend you. That’s like knowing what the tenth digit of pi is.

Despite covering the point spread and then some, and showcasing amazing talent and depth on both sides of the ball, there are still sportswriters, fans, and pundits who are predicting gloom and doom as Penn State heads into the meat of our schedule. Three touchdowns called back by penalties. Nine penalties for 95 yards. How many dropped passes???? I read things like Penn State can’t beat Ohio State playing like that. Someone sees at least four losses.  (They also see dead people.)

Wait. What???

How many points did we need to score against KSU to be considered a worthy opponent for Ohio State? 80? 100? What is the critical mass of penalties allowed in the past that predicts the future success of a team?

Granted, penalties can–and will–kill you, depending on where and when they occur. I would think it would be pretty hard to beat Ohio State if the referees take three touchdowns off the board for us.

But folks, calm down. This was NOT Ohio State. Kent is in Ohio, but that’s as far as the analogy goes. And while James Franklin can claim that each game is a Super Bowl, the players and coaches he’s preaching to are not that stupid. I would be willing to bet that every single player on that squad was pretty sure PSU would be victorious at the end of the day, even despite the scare by Appalachian State.

It is nearly impossible to maintain the focus and intensity against an opponent like Kent State. Sorry, Kent, no offense. Literally. You have no offense. But you are what you are. Don’t spend all that money we gave you in one place.

And Penn State did what they needed to do to win. We managed to get out without any injuries. Ask the Buckeyes (who saw Bosa go down with a groin pull) if that is significant. We didn’t lose. Ask Wisconsin (or Nebraska) if that is important.

Our back-up defense didn’t even give up any points in garbage time. If you only started watching PSU football in the post-Paterno era, you don’t know what that means. From 1966-2011, I can’t count the number of games I watched PSU’s second or third string give up meaningless touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make the final score look less impressive. It was maddening!!! The Indiana game in 1994 might have cost us a national championship. Our second and third string are still ahead of anything Kent State can throw at us. Depth will be important against teams like Ohio State, which apparently we have no chance of winning anyway.

When was the last time you saw an elite team (ranked in the top 25) boot an on-sides kick in the first quarter with the score tied? Anyone? McFly? Catching us with our proverbial pants down was embarrassing, but in no way an indicator of performance against the better teams in our league. I remember Glenn Mason’s Minnesota Gophers catching Paterno off-guard two years in a row by on-side kicking the opening kick-off of a half. But Minnesota is NOT an elite team either. I rest my case.

I’m feeling pretty good about this squad now. Always room for improvements. But I see us getting better.

BY THE NUMBERS:

McSorley extended his streak of consecutive games with a TD throw to 31, which currently leads the NCAA.

We are tied for 10th with one-loss Washington (no respect, no respect at all) in the AP poll and 9th in the Coaches Poll.

We compiled 643 yards of total offense. Still won’t be enough against the Buckeyes. We might need a thousand. God, we’ve got some work to do.

We had nine penalties for 95 yards. Lost in the shuffle, though, was KSU’s 83 yards on 10 yellow flags.   The net is a twelve yard difference.  Barely a first down.  Sometimes teams play to the level of their competition. There’s no way our players could be more focused for Ohio State in prime time, during a whiteout at night, than they were against Kent State. We are soooo doomed.

INTANGIBLES:

The crowd attendance was 106,528. Enthusiastic but not as loud as the App State game. Didn’t need to be. We’re saving our loudest and best cheers for Ohio State, even though we can’t win that game.

KSU won the coin toss and elected to defer–didn’t screw it up like Pitt.  Didn’t matter.  We’re going to need to win 12 out of 13 coin tosses to beat OSU.

The Drum Major stuck both flips.  He’ll need to stick about 20 if we have any hope of beating Ohio State.  And that clarinet player–you know who you are!–better step up their game.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

Where do we even begin?

If not for a second half collapse by TCU, Penn State might have been the Big Ten’s flagship team after the carnage this weekend.

The Badgers lost at home to BY-who? 24-21. Hey Badgers, I got you a play-off spot. Oh, so close. Gotta be quicker than that. They haven’t lost a non-con game in Camp Randall since 2003. There is no way in freaking Hell, Michigan that they can beat Ohio State. Well, they don’t play them in the regular season, so they’ve got that going for them.

Nebraska lost to Troy. Troy! Do you even know where that school is? It’s in freaking Alabama! All the good players go to The Alabama University of Saban or Auburn. Nebraska is 0-2 for the first time since 1957! That was like way back in the 1950’s.  Did they even wear helmets–or shoes–then? There is no way Nebraska will ever beat Ohio State!

Northwestern lost to . . . wait for it . . . wait for it. . . AKRON. The Zips! 39-34. It marks the first time Akron has beaten a Big Ten team since . . .wait for it . . . wait for it . . .1894! 1894! They used to hold up stone tablets on the sidelines and use smoke signals to send in plays! I think they used a real pig back then instead of a football. It was dead, but a pig nonetheless. And they weren’t even called Akron . . . they were Buchtel College. They managed a win incognito! They beat . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . OHIO STATE! Yes, for 124 years, Ohio State was THE only Big Ten Team to lose to the school that would become Akron. Northwestern has ZERO chance of beating Ohio State. (They don’t play in the regular season, and if you think Northwestern has a chance to win the Big Ten West, well, you , you . . . well you’re wrong. That’s all I got. I’m not going to waste a good zinger on some loser that thinks Northwestern can play football.)

Maryland lost to Temple? 35-14? Temple couldn’t beat an egg. They lost to Villanova (and we’re not talking round ball here) and Buffalo (the school, not the Bills.) How does this happen????

Oy vey! South Florida beat Illinois 25-19!  I pity the fools that have to play Illinois next week!

Kansas demolished Rutgers 55-14. Ok, that’s not a surprise at all. But Rutgers and Kansas combined . . .oh, throw in Missouri and Temple too . . . all combined couldn’t stay on the same field with OSU.

Surely Purdue did better. Nope. I got nothing here. They lost to Missouri 40-37.

Did anyone besides Penn State win this weekend in the Big Ten?

OK–THEM (Michigan) lassoed SMU 45-20.

Indiana had a larger margin of victory over Ball State than Notre Dame did, winning 38-10.

Minnesota beat Miami (OH) 26-3. Go gophers. The west is wide open for varmints like you.

Iowa defeated Northern Iowa 38-14. Would that be like us playing Erie?

And the Buckeyes. Best team in the damned land with or without Meyer out horned the horny toads 40-28. Pssst. Don’t tell anyone, but TCU was leading 14-13 at the half. It’s our secret.

LOOKING AHEAD:

We shouldn’t even bother playing Illinois, since there’s no way we can beat Ohio State. But, be that as it may be, James Franklin is going to take his show on the road to Champagne for Penn State’s first regular season Friday night game ever against the Illustrious, Industrious Illini. Game time is 9 pm Eastern which is probably around 8 in Illinois. It’s 5:00 somewhere.

This game has all the hype and excitement of a high school game between two non-rivals. If Penn State loses this game it will be because of BOREDOM.

And because it’s a freaking Friday night. That’s just wrong on multiple levels. But it will be a good excuse. When a golfer doesn’t shoot par, there’s always an excuse–the wind, the course was wet, etc.  Never is it because I can’t golf.  If we lose–it’s because it’s FRIDAY!

Nebraska should be playing this game instead of us–as punishment for losing to Troy. There’s a Troy, Ohio. But this school is in freaking Alabama. I googled it. I kid you not. And they beat Nebraska. Do you remember when we beat them in 1982? They were something back then. They’re something now but it ain’t a good something.  I appear to  have digressed here.

So far, Illinois has beaten Western Illinois (is that like us beating Pitt?) 34-14, and an impressive 31-24 victory over the Kent State Flashes. Didn’t somebody just maul the crap out of them?

Penn State is a 27.5 point favorite over the Illini.

I look for another comfortable win, with maybe a slow start. Don’t expect any razzle dazzle. We be keeping that stuff under wraps before the Buckeyes come a knocking. Like it’s going to help. We have no chance in that game.

GO STATE! BEAT ILLINI!

PS(u): You know who else can’t beat Ohio State? The Steelers. Not a chance.

PSS:  A lot of folks predicted Pitt wouldn’t win an ACC game after last week’s loss to us.  They beat the Ramblin Wreck of Georgia Tech 24-19.  Could it be these pundits don’t know what they are talking about????

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