Tag Archives: Michigan

Oops, We Miched it Again

Well here we are. Another week. Another loss. Another blog attempt to exorcise the demons.

2020 was a rough year for Penn State football, starting 0-5. 2021 says, “You ain’t seen nothing yet. Hold my beer!”

I actually thought we had a good chance to win this game. We actually did. But more on that later.

We are probably a play or three away from being 4-6, but likewise a handful of plays away from being undefeated. The loss to Ohio State was the largest margin: 9 points. The other losses were 3, 2 and 4 points. CLOSE but no cigar or playoff spot.

Football games always come down to match-ups. Who has the best match-ups generally wins. Throw in some random luck–fumbles, weather conditions, etc. But it really comes down to how you match up with the other team–offensive line versus defensive line. Receivers versus corner backs. Special teams play. And one that cannot be over-looked: coaching.

I thought James Franklin had the edge in this one. If there was any coach in the Big Ten that might be worse on game day, it might just be Jim Harbaugh.

James Franklin: “Challenge accepted. Hold my Beer!”

With a brilliant display of coaching ineptitude, he called for a fake field goal from the TWO YARD LINE. The play not only didn’t fool the Wolverines, who had just been bitten by a fake punt that led to a PSU field goal and 3 point lead, but it was so poorly executed that we lost yardage all the way back to the thirty yard line!

There has to be a thought process to this doesn’t there? I mean, we’re not pulling plays out of a helmet are we? (It seems that way sometimes!) I used to think Jay Paterno and Galen Hall played rock-paper-scissors to decide who called the play. So what pray tell was this thought process????

I have fourth and goal from the two yard line. What are my options? Go for it, putting the ball into our best players hands and knowing that barring some freak accident of nature, there won’t be a 99 yard pick six or scoop and score the other way. If you don’t make it, the wolverines are still backed up against their goal line. Hold them and get good field position for another score.

Option 2: Kick a field goal. Not necessarily a given since Stout has an annoying habit of missing extra points and easy field goals. But probably a lower risk play than a fake and you can put points on the board against a tough opponent. Odds makers had PSU a one point underdog. Three points is better than none right?

But Franklin went with option 3 and we can only assume the choice was his to make. He pulled the trigger on a fake field goal that blew up as we all watched in horrified agony.

WHAT WAS HE THINKING?

Did he think the fake punt went so well, that we could pull it off again? We’d have been better off calling for the Spanish Inquisition! No one would have suspected that! Instead, the Wolverines were well prepared to not be embarrassed a second straight time in one quarter. And in all fairness–the fake punt was actually pretty well defended but the pass and catch were flawlessly executed. The fake field goal: not so much. Fool us once, shame on you. Try to fool us twice–shame on you again! They farted in our general direction! Our coach is a hamster and our offense smelt of elderberries!

Statistically speaking, we were pretty close to the team ranked ninth in the nation last week.

Perhaps the key stat here is the third down conversions. The wolverines were 40% while PSU was only 33%. Everything else is close enough for government work to be considered equal. Hey we managed 109 yards. SHOULD BE BETTER. But that is what it is, and it isn’t good.

But despite that. In spite of that. Spite me down Darth Harbaugh and I will become more powerful than you can imagine! WE STILL HAD A LEAD IN THE FOURTH QUARTER! WE HAD A CHANCE TO BEAT THEM!

We were so close! But the fisherman on the State Farm commercial pulled the victory away at the last second. Oooh. You almost had it!

Would the outcome have been different had we not tried the fake field goal? Had Stout not missed what many would consider a makeable 43 yard field goal? Maybe we score a touchdown after the Michigan fumble instead of settling for 3 points. Woulda, coulda shoulda.

Do we want James Franklin to go? Do we want him to stay? To go or not to go, THAT IS the question.

Sitting on the top ranked recruiting class for next year, do we want to risk that and throw the dice with a coach to be named later?

Will bringing in the best recruiting class actually translate to more wins on the field, or just more disappointments? Elevated expectations and poorer results?

The answer is three. It takes three licks to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop.

And with that, I am done with this game.

But that leaves us to look at Rutgers. The level of excitement here is below zero. Unfortunately, the team will probably feel this way as well. This is a coaching challenge. Can JF motivate this team to play hard and hopefully beat Rutgers? We are 17.5 point favorites after all. The bloody knights are 5-5 coming off a 38-3 drubbing of the Hoosiers. They are looking to become bowl eligible with only a game against Maryland after this match-up to secure a spot. A loss this week will essentially end the season for Penn State–look for two more losses–Michigan State and whatever dregs of the college football world we are matched up with in the Detroit Toilet Bowl Extravaganza on December 10th. At least the team will be home for the holidays!

Maybe Franklin will fake a press conference this week.

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Episode VI: A New Hope????

Just when you think you have this Penn State team defined as an under-performing, over-rated, confused and poorly coached, clunking, clattering collection of caliginous junk . . . they go and win a game.

Albeit against Michigan. The Lions win 27-17! A-maize-ing!

Normally this would have been a marquee match-up.

In 2020, the reality was closer to this:

Pat Forde described this game as a “cringe-worthy mess.” Thank you Mr. Obvious. Keep your mind sharp and your pencil sharper.

Granted, few fans outside of Pennsylvania or Michigan likely cared much one way or the other about the outcome of this game. It probably didn’t even have a great TV audience.

But for die hard Penn State fans, this was a Thanksgiving Miracle. A spoonful of sugar to make the pandemic go down. We put the ape in apricot! A ray of sunshine in an otherwise dreary world.

And no matter what happens the rest of the season . . . we are not the team that lost to Penn State.

For Harbaugh, it must be a humiliating defeat. He almost and should have lost to Rutgers the previous week. And with Maryland (who mauled Penn State in week 3 of this Big Ten season) and Ohio State left on their schedule, Jim may not notch another victory in 2020.

But for the Lions and James Franklin . . . . there is hope. It is but a glimmer, but it is there. In the darkness of this miserable season, it stood out today like a welcoming beacon. A torch on our Statue of Victory–give me your tired, your poor and your huddled football team, yearning to breathe victory, the wretched refuse of your dismal season.

A fan from Lock Have, PA made this for me many years ago.

So how did this miracle occur?

Aliens.

It’s as good as any guess.

Let’s face it. We beat a team that is arguably and probably worse than we are. Therein is probably the only analysis necessary.

But pick a stat–any stat. Penn State dominated. 25 PSU first downs to 14 Wolverine first downs. 254 rushing yards to 174. 163 Lion passing yards to 112 for the Maize (we call it corn) and Blue. Total yards were thus 417 for PSU and 286 for UM. We were 8 of 16 (50%) on third down while they were 4 of 12 (33%.) We won time of possession 36:36 to 23:24! They had two fumbles but only lost one–thanks to illegal touching! We did not commit a turn-over!

We did however, miss a field goal, twice kick the ball out of bounds on the kick-off, and got out-penalized 5 times for 30 yards versus only one 10 yard indiscretion by the wolverines.

But it was difficult to enjoy the game. Why? Because I sat there just waiting for the shoe to drop. The fatal mistake. The bone-head play call. The clock mismanagement. You just knew it was going to come. It always comes. The piss poor pass and pick six by Michigan. We almost had the Michigan scoop and score! But replay actually saved us on that one! You can’t say we didn’t try!

Cue I Got You Babe. Okay sportsfans, rise and shine, and don’t forget your crying towels because it’s lousy out there today. It’s lousy out there every Saturday . . . .

Somehow, some way, the Nittany Lions managed not to shoot themselves in the paw, look a gift horse in the mouth, throw caution to the wind while throwing the baby out with the bathwater or find gloom, despair and agony of defeat.

For the record–I went to Zach’s to watch the game instead of Champs or Primanti’s. I went back to my Nike PSU logo sneakers that I wore for the Indiana game, a game which we coulda, shoulda, woulda won. I nixed the PSU socks. Game day decision. Different PSU boxers and a different shirt. I will wear this ensemble for the remaining games. Without washing. (Thankfully there are only two irregular season games and one Championship week match-up left!)

Can we build on this performance? Can we keep momentum rolling?

We will find out next week as our beloved Lions travel to Piscataway, NJ. Welcome to hell, Blofeld! A fitting reward for a win like this? We shall see.

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BIG Ugly Win is Beautiful

Penn State jumped out to a 21-0 lead Saturday night before the fourth largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history, but then, inexplicably the Nittany Lions went stagnant on offense, allowing the defense to play all but a few minutes of the second half on their own.  Play calling?  Execution?  Lack of a killer instinct?  Bad luck?  Bad juju?

HarbaughSinging

Mount Nittany’s alive, with the sound of cheering . . .

In the end, though, the defense prevailed, holding on fourth and goal albeit with the gift of a dropped pass to complete Michigan’s failure to come back.  Penn State won 28-21.

As one Michigan blogger typed,

Instead it’s a game where Michigan loses in a blizzard of their own making and the rational post-game take is cautious optimism because that wasn’t as bad as we all expected. That was their best performance of the year, the weird road game where you walk into the kitchen, forget why you went there in the first place, and end up making beef stew. You don’t even like beef stew. In my world the thing you do with carrots that have been boiled for five hours is throw them out. And then you lose.

I have been there.  I have done that.  Well, not making beef stew or boiling the bejeesus out of carrots because, well, I can’t cook.  I don’t cook.  Do you see what I’m doing here?  Can you smell what I’ve got cooking?  (It’s a charred hot mess that smells like smoke and ashes, but the Penn State football team–and this season–rose like a Phoenix from that fiery hot mess with a victory over their Big Ten nemesis since day one:  The-M.

Do you remember the crowd noise penalty in 1993?

Was that not fitting that Michigan had to take a time out BEFORE they even ran their first play as the crowd rocked Happy Valley?

Penn State did not waltz away with a blow out victory.  They did not smell the blood on the field in the first quarter and then go for the jugular.  It was not that kind of win.

And just what kind of win was it?

Was Penn State really good, but Michigan able to almost match-up, two teams battling down to the final seconds of regulation with the outcome in doubt?

Did Penn State “get lucky” that Ronnie-no-victory-Bell dropped the pass?

Or did Penn State’s defense make him so edgy he couldn’t complete the “one job”, the “one play” that apparently was this game.

Were the wolverines a beneficiary of bad calls, or were they the victim of them?

I’m, here to tell you that it doesn’t matter.

The scoreboard tells the only story that will be recorded in the annuls of football lore.  You won’t pick up a media guide ten years from now, flip to this season, to this game, and see an asterisk, leading you to a disclaimer in fine print at the bottom of the page that reads, Michigan should have won but their player dropped a pass that should have been a tying touchdown.

Let me tell you this again:  I (and PSU fans all over) have been there before–done that.

Just in the last two seasons alone, we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory over Ohio State and Michigan State.  Back to back losses in two consecutive years where our beloved team LED in the fourth quarter, but could not hang on, and ultimately lost the game.  I still haven’t gotten over the Rose Bowl loss to USC.  A loss.  No asterisks.  No moral victories.  Nothing elite.

BUT THIS GAME WAS DIFFERENT.

We actually won this game.  With an offense that slept through basically two quarters.  Again, we can banter back and forth about whether it was coaching or execution–or God forbid!  maybe Michigan has a pretty good defense did you ever think of that? –but its mental masturbation that will never produce the same orgasm as a victory.

This was a beautiful win, on an incredible night, with an incredible crowd and it would be pointless to argue otherwise.  That’s the job for the Michigan fans.

And if you’re still not convinced this was a great win, ask Wisconsin if they would rather win ugly or lose.

BY THE NUMBERS:

You want numbers?  Really?  Have you been paying attention?  There are only two numbers that really matter.  28.  And 21.  And maybe 7 and 0.

The wolverines out gained us–by air and by land, Paul Revere would have had a  heart attack hanging all the lanterns–out first downed, out converted us on third and fourth downs, out penalized us, and won time of possession 37:45 to 22:15.  They held the ball for 9:19 in the fourth quarter, but it seemed like more.

As the Michigan blogger noted above, that was their best performance of the year . . . and we still came out on top!

There are only TEN teams (out of 130 FBS schools) that are still undefeated at week eight.  Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Baylor, Minnesota, SMU, and Appalachian State!  We are!  One of them!

INTANGIBLES:

110,669 screaming white-clad fans.  BEST.  FANS.  ANYWHERE.

Penn State moved to 7-0 on the season.  #6 on both polls.

KJ Hamler was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.

The drum major stuck both flips.  That’s recruiting AND development, baby.

College Game Day (built by the Home Depot) was in Happy Valley.  Lee Corso picked PSU!

CorsoLionHead

Video on ESPN

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

So let’s see.  The Buckeyes rolled over NW 52-3, Penn State won, and Minnesota is still undefeated, routing Rutgers 42-7.  How about Wisconsin?  Oh, they were playing Illinois.  They’re still undefeated too.  Wait!  What?  They lost?  24-23?  Oh, the inhumanity!  I swear, with God as my witness, that Badgers could fly!

Iowa rebounded with a 26-20 win over Purdue.

Indiana defeated Maryland 34-28.

LOOKING AHEAD:

The Nittany Lions must travel to East Lansing for a 3:30 clash with the Spartans who are 4-3 on the season and no longer ranked.

MSUschedule

There are no common opponents yet on the schedule to draw any transitive property comparisons.  On paper, there is no reason we should not be able to beat MSU.  Of course, on the back side of that paper is a collection of stats saying Illinois should not beat Wisconsin–sometimes out opponents don’t read that paper!

Can the Nittany Lions bring enough game (is that two quarters, 28 minutes, I don’t know) to Spartan Stadium or has the last two BIG wins drained the tank?  This is a terrible stretch of games, and will test our players and coaches.

The early betting line I saw was Penn State favored by a touchdown.

MORONS

GO STATE!  BEAT SPARTANS!

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Hawkeye Game is Foul Play

Penn State traveled to Iowa (and even though traveling is a basketball foul, I’m surprised the Big Ten refs didn’t throw a flag for that too) and came back with a 17-12 victory that wasn’t really that close.

IOwaCorn

But Iowa is a quality opponent, unlike Penn State’s schedule so far.  (The jury is still out on Pitt.)  All week long, Penn State fans had to listen to how hard it is to win at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa.  Everything from the infamous pink locker room to the kids in the children’s hospital waving at the fans in the stadium to the stripe out.  James Franklin has never beaten a ranked opponent on the road in the regular season.  0-11.  And it was a full moon.

But the scariest part of the game came down to the referees once again.  Yes.  I am going there.  I’m heading there as fast as I can, speed limit be damned.  And I am going there after we won.  Usually whining about the referees is wine served up in defeat, made from the sourest grapes you can find.

But when the replay officials failed to uphold or let stand the Friermuth touchdown, followed by two holding calls (and let’s pause for a minute to say that there are plenty of holding calls in every football game that don’t get called) that set Penn State so far back from the goal line they ended up settling for a field goal in a game that was just 10-6  at that point.  14-6 would have been crushing for an Iowa offense that hadn’t scored a touchdown since practically the last full moon.

And how can a quarterback fumble the snap, have the ball roll backward, and still get positive yardage for a first down?

And don’t even get me started on the phantom pass interference penalty that brought back memories of the one called on Scirotto that ultimately gave Iowa the chance to kick a field goal and blemish what turned out to be Paterno’s last best chance at another regular undefeated season in 2008.

The difference:  this team was able to persevere and still win, despite what seemed like a concerted effort to keep Iowa in the game and give them a chance at the upset.

EatMoreHawkeyes

 

Shout outs:

To Blake Gillikin:  In a close defensive game like this, you cannot say enough about a punter that continually pinned the Hawks deep in their own territory.

To Noah Caine: If I were the coach, this kid would get 25 carries a game or more.  The ability to rush for first downs late in the game and run out the clock is invaluable.  How many games would have been won if Penn State had just been able to make a first down in the waning moments of a big game?

To Robert Windsor:  Great game defensively.  Six tackles, couple QB hurries, and 2.5 tackles for losses.

Call Outs:

Big Ten Refs.  Jesus, do you guys know the whole TV audience is watching your screw job?  I haven’t seen such a pathetic attempt to change the outcome of a game since Witovet retired.  Here’s a tip . . . if takes more than TWO minutes and you have to use an electron microscope to see blades of grass underneath a knee, then it is TOO CLOSE TO OVERTURN.  You want to get it right–I understand that.  But you got it wrong.  Nice try!  You’ll get a participation trophy after the game.

Friermuth

Kudos to the Penn State staff and team for maintaining composure and focus and still getting the job done.

BY THE NUMBERS:

While Iowa managed to out gain the Lions in total yardage, Penn State led the crucial total yards on the ground, holding the Hawks to just 70 rushing yards.  Thanks to the running game, Penn State also managed to win time of possession.

And Iowa won the penalty battle.  Imagine that!

INTANGIBLES:

James Franklin wins his first game on the road against a ranked opponent.

Penn State secured the #7 spot on both polls.

Penn State leads the all-time series 16-12 with a current streak of 6 wins.

IowaSober

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

Wisconsin blanked the Spartans 38-0 while Michigan topped the Illini 42-25.  But that game was 28-25 with just over 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Indiana beat Rutgers 35-0.  Who hasn’t beaten Rutgers?

Purdue rebounded with a big win over the Terrapins, 40-14.

The Gophers throttled the Huskers, 34-7.

MEANWHILE . . . 

In Georgia . . . the Bulldogs stunk it up between the hedges badly enough for South Carolina to get the upset in double OT, 20-17.  What I don’t understand is how Georgia is perennially ranked in the top 10, often top 5, in recruiting classes, yet they never seem to be able to transform that talent into wins.  Sporting News ranked schools recruiting classes for the last 10 years, and while Alabama and Ohio State were #1 and #2, Georgia was #4.  Now college recruiting is far from a science, and any given class may or may not pan out.  But how can they be right most of the time with the Buckeyes and the Tide, but not the Bulldogs?  Methinks Georgia has some way of not developing that talent.  BTW, Michigan is Ninth on that list.

In Louisiana . . . LSU beat the Gators 42-28.

LOOKING AHEAD:

THEM.

The-M.  The Big Block M.  They are all that and a bag of chips.  Too sexy for their helmets.

MFan

Michigan Fans ARE special.

The Wolverines are 5-1 and ranked #16 in both polls.

MichiganSchedule

They almost lost to Army, but granted Army is a good football team–not great–but solid.  Wisconsin pretty much Michigan-Man-handled the wolverines at Camp Randall.  In common opponents, THEM held Iowa to 3.  We held them to 6, with the refs adding another 6.  We had Iowa on the road at night.  They beat the Hawkeyes at the Big House.  Adjust for the home field advantages (3 points). . . carry the one . . .  they matched up +4 on a neutral field and we would have a margin of 8.  This ain’t common core math.  We will beat THEM.

StateFarmWolverine

Harbaugh:  “You keep those khakis packed, James Franklin!”

And if this wasn’t exciting enough already, College GameDay is coming to Happy Valley next week!  Get your Big Ten Ref signs ready!!!

GO STATE!  BEAT THEM!

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Got Our Ears Kicked In

A former coach–who shall remain unnamed, but wore rolled up khaki’s and plain black Nike shoes–was often heard to say, “we got our ears kicked in” after a particularly bad loss.

Should we unpack those khaki’s?

You just keep those khaki’s packed.

khakis

Losing 42-7 in Ann Arbor, we definitely got kicked.  Pwned.  Dominated.  Embarrassed.  Stifled, Edith already.

I have no inclination to regurgitate any stats, replays or in any way relive a moment of this fiasco.

As a fan, you know what the team was up against.  Their opponent was undefeated in Big Ten play.  Their only loss was to a 4th ranked Irish team to open the season.  We were double digit underdogs.  We were playing in their House.  A very Big House.

Did we expect to win?  Kind of.  We hoped to win.  We hoped the defense, which seemed to be getting better as the season played out, would keep us in the game.  They did–for a half.  We kind of hoped (“expected”) the offense to break out at some point.  We know we have some play makers.  We know we have a gutsy quarterback with a modicum of talent.  Is it really insane to believe we could put together a perfect game in Ann Arbor?

But those hopes and dreams were shattered and strewn across the field at the Big House.

Perhaps the thing that bothered me the most, is that Michigan, and especially their players if not the coaches as well, adhered to their mantra of the “revenge tour.”  Basically, anyone who beat them last year, was now a target.  Fine, Whatever.

But where was the revenge for our guys?

Michigan leads the all-time series 14-8, and at one time held a nine-game win streak.  They ruined a perfect season in 2005.  Remember the heel toe and the infamous two seconds?  In the first game at Beaver Stadium, our team was flagged a penalty for CROWD NOISE.  The whole referee–referine thing has been whined about by Penn State fans since joining this league.  While the players that took the field may not recall all the details, they certainly must know that this is a rivalry.

And make no mistake about it, we are a rival, whether the snotty, most winning team and their fan base want to admit it.

If we’re not a rival, then why did multiple Michigan players mock celebrate after plays–many swinging a bat and saluting ala Trace McSorley, or running with their arms pinwheeling ala Saquon Barkley?

And how about the Zombie Nation song blaring, with their fans chanting–what I think was–You Suck Penn State, (or worse, We *UCK Penn State, and one Michigan Board claimed they chanted WE OWN PENN STATE) instead of our more catchy and family friendly We Are Penn State.

They can deny it all they want, but we have gotten to them.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

We royally pissed them off, and the scoreboard reflected that.  The antics of mocking us bordered on unsportsmanlike conduct, but then I’m not a big fan of the showboating dances and rituals, so I can’t throw a stone from my glass house at their Big House, seeing as our players may come across as a wee bit cocky sometimes.  When we win, that is.

And win we did not.

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Tuesday Todds & Ends

Apparently, Coach Narduzzi was not thrilled that PSU signed a home and away series with Temple.  Granted, I’m not thrilled either.  Home and Aways should be reserved for teams that have earned that kind of mutual respect. . . perennial top 25 teams.

 . . . the media asked Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi if he’d heard about Penn State and Temple renewing their series for 2026 and 2027. Narduzzi laughed, shrugged with exasperation, and said, “Figures.”

Without Penn State on their schedule, how will they sell season tickets?

Narduzzi is an interesting character to say the least, and he’s clearly upset that Penn State won’t seem to renew the in-state matchup with his squad. Back in November, Pitt’s athletic director stated that they believed a renewal of the series was “very close to being done.”

Fake news!

I hear that bricks from Wannstedt’s recruiting wall that he built around Pittsburgh will be on sale.  A dime a dozen.

Pitt remains adamant about a home and away situation, despite the fact that Pittsburgh has the OVERWHELMING advantage in this series . . .

  • Penn State is playing on the road for the 69th time in the 99-game series. Just 24 meetings have been in Happy Valley, while six were at neutral sites.

Meanwhile, in Michigan . . .

Jim Harbaugh was hired, at great cost and with towering fanfare, to bring back the bygone days of Michigan football.

He’s done it. Just not the way anyone envisioned.

After the latest offensive debacle — another Harbaughcle, if you will — the Wolverines have their first four-game losing streak since the Rich Rodriguez Era and the 2009 season. Nobody in maize and blue has ever wanted to put Harbaugh and Rich-Rod in the same sentence, yet here we are.

You might have thought Brady Hoke Era was bad, and you’d be right — but at least Hoke never lost four in a row. Harbaugh now has.

Harbaughcle?  Wish I had come up with that one!

PSUdanceteam

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Blocked Field Goals: Is there an APP for that?

Are you excited to get this 2018 college football season underway?

I am cautiously optimistic for Penn State.  With their schedule, I can foresee anything from 7-5 to 12-0.  Yeah, that pretty much narrows it down.

Will McSorley remain healthy?  How hurt is Tommy Stevens?

Do we have enough depth on the defensive line?

Can we replace Saquon Barkley?  (No, but we’re gonna try anyway!)

Can we get a few breaks?  It’s hard to foresee an undefeated season without a little luck along the way.  But PSU might still make the playoffs if they can win the Big Ten despite a loss.  History pretty much rules out a two-loss team in the final four, unless there aren’t enough undefeated or one loss teams to fill the spots, an unlikely scenario.

As I reflect upon this upcoming season, I can’t help but come back to ONE PLAY–one of my personal all-time favorites:

Since that remarkable upset, Penn State has been ranked EVERY WEEK (AP), the team has gone 18-3, and of those three losses two games were decided by 3 points and one game by but a single point–all to ranked teams.

The first test of the 2018 season comes this Saturday at Beaver Stadium at 3:30 PM. The game will be on BTN.  The Mighty Mountaineers of Appalachian State come to Beaver Stadium in hopes of rekindling the magic they made in Michigan in 2007, when they defeated the fifth ranked Wolverines in Ann Arbor on this PLAY:

Someone even wrote a book about it.  Of course, to be fair, THEM (The-M as in Michigan) defeated #10 PSU 14-9 that same year (we lost to the team that lost to Appalachian State!) and the Mountaineers went on to win the FCS Championship in 2007.

And though Appalachian State may be most famous for that upset in Ann Arbor, they were also famous for THIS piece of video perfection:

Appalachian State is HOT HOT HOT?  I think NOT NOT NOT.

An Appalachian Family of Smiling faces?  When I hear that, I think THIS:

AppFamily

But . . . this is not 2007.  Appalachian State is no longer an FCS team, but rather has found a home in the Sun Belt Conference.  They did, however, receive 16 votes in the Coaches Poll (that’s 16 more than Pitt got.)

 

Some Appalachian State quick hits:

-App State will be starting a new quarterback

-lost right side of the offensive line to the NFL (Gossett–>Vikings, Nunn–>Lions)

-New Defensive Coordinator

-lost six defensive starters (defense ranked 29th nationally last year)

I like this match-up.  It’s a cupcake with some meat.  The kind of prey that can bite back.  PSU is currently a 23-point favorite to win.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the margin of victory is less than that–first game, new personnel, don’t want to show off too much of our new and improved Saquon-less offense.

Enjoy the game, PSU fans, and get ready for a heckuva a ride!

AppStQueen

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Michi-gunned Down

For an entire week I endured the media hype.  Michigan has the best defense in the country.  They were going to shut down Barkley.  Penn State had no offensive line.  McSorley was going to be running for his life and making mistakes.  Blah, blah, blah.

blahblahblah

Did they know this was 2017 and not 2016???

Jim Harbaugh actually looked shell-shocked in his post-game interview.

I can’t believe their coaching staff only looked at last season’s 49-10 game to prepare for last Saturday.  Yet, they looked unprepared.  They couldn’t stop Barkley.  They couldn’t cover him as a receiver.  They actually looked slow on defense (or we looked really fast–take your pick.)

Of course, there is the possibility that they did prepare but I guess their best wasn’t good enough.

Before a record-setting white out crowd of 110,823 exuberant fans, the second ranked Nittany Lions proceeded to methodically dissect, out man, and out play the vaunted Wolverine defense.

It didn’t take long.  On the second play of the game, Saquon Barkley (for those of you who are Michigan fans, he is a running back that plays for Penn State, a school that is not Michigan nor Ohio State if you can actually believe the concept that there are other schools out there) shifted to take the direct snap out of the wildcat formation.  He then proceeded to take the football 69 yards untouched for six points and our kicker made the point after.  Saquon Barkley . . .  say Bye Bye!

Penn State would go up to 14-0 on the team from up north, on yet another run by Barkley, this time from the fifteen yard line.  Georgia State held Barkley to fewer yards than this alleged number one defense.

The first quarter ended as the wolverines got a spark of life support from a Trace McSorley interception, where it appeared the quarterback and receiver weren’t on the same page.  But one-time PSU commit Quinn Nordin would miss the extra point.  Wouldn’t mean anything in the final analysis but it was just a bit of karma in his face.

To their credit, the maize and blue would try to make a game of it with a second touchdown in the second period, but the score was 21-13 at the half thanks to a 7 play, 75 yard drive engineered by Trace McSorley (for Michigan fans, he’s a quarterback who plays at Penn State, blah, blah, blah, he’s pretty good outside the town of Ann Arbor or so I’ve heard.)  The drive took all of 52 seconds and the team never looked back.

Let’s do some Michi-gun bullets baby:

  • Penn State amassed 506 yards of offense against the “number one defense”
  • Penn State only punted twice.
  • Penn State never had to kick a field goal
  • The Lions averaged 7.2 yards on first down plays
  • The pathetic Penn State line allowed only two sacks
  • Penn State sacked O’Korn seven times
  • McSorley ran for 78 yards
  • Penn State has still not allowed a point in the first quarter
  • If you think that’s impressive, PSU has outscored opponents 72-3 in the third quarter
  • Penn State shut-out the wolverines in the second half.
  • The loss drops the University of Michigan out of the AP poll

The final score was 42-13 as Penn State rattled off 28 unanswered points.  They are 7-0 on the season and still ranked number 2.  This was one of the best whiteout games and certainly one of the most entertaining.  I still put Ohio State 2005 at the top of the list because that game was close, it was an upset victory, and Penn State was resurging from the dark years of 2003-4.  This game was never really in doubt but was just plain fun.  Michi-fun.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

The Buckeyes had a week off to prepare for Penn State.

Wisconsin badgered the terrapins 38-13.

The Spartans outlasted Indiana 17-9.

Northwestern fricaseed the Hawks 17-10.

Rutgers beat the Boilers 14-12.  Wait?  What?  Let me check that.  Wow.  They won one.

And the Gophers defeated Illinois 24-17.

Outside the conference, the Irish embarrassed the Trojans 49-14.

LOOKING AHEAD:

The Nittany Lions travel to Columbus next week to face the 6th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.  Kick-off is 3:30.

The Buckeyes struggled a bit with Indiana in the opener, trailed at the half, but ultimately put the Hoosiers away 49-21.  If you recall, we beat Indiana 45-14.  Kind of a wash there.  That is the only common opponent to date.

The Bucks have scored no fewer than 54 points in their last four games, against the likes of UNLV, Maryland, Rutgers and Nebraska.

Their one loss was a night-time, prime time loss to the Sooners, 31-16.  This was the second game of the year on their schedule and no game since has been even close.

Ohio State opened as a 7 point favorite.

I think we win.  Their front seven will keep Barkley in check, although I still see him breaking free at one point.  However, our offensive line is getting better, and I think McSorley will have a good day against the Buckeye secondary.  This will be one of the better if not the best offenses we have faced so far so it will be a test for our defense.  I think they will rise to the occasion.  It won’t be as lopsided as this week, but we shall see.

And I leave you with this . . .

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Bye week Bye-byes!

Weakestlink

Four teams in the top ten tanked this weekend.  Doesn’t anyone want to play Alabama????

Both Washington teams lost, as well as Auburn, but the shocker of the weekend was the Friday the 13th horror flick that played out in the Carrier Dome starring an unranked Syracuse team.

Friday13thClemson

While you might think that would end the Tigers’ hopes for a repeat title, think again.

Just like Jason continues to resurrect himself film after film, Clemson is poised to return to greatness; to arise from the ashes like a football Phoenix.

Clemson dropped all of FIVE spots in the AP poll.  FIVE!

Let’s look at other teams and how a loss affected their top 10 ranking:

Florida State opened the season with a loss to #1 Alabama.  Is there shame in losing to a number one team?  No.  But it did cost them 7 places as they plummeted from 3rd to 10th.  Of course, the Seminoles are now unranked, but that level of discredit was not evident after one game.

Ohio State.  The Buckeyes only dropped four spots, but that was to a team that was highly ranked at the time (Oklahoma.)

The rest of the nation does not fair so well with losses.

Southern Cal dropped 9 spots after losing.  Oklahoma dropped 9 spots despite their victory over the Buckeyes earlier.  Michigan dropped 10 spots after their loss to a now ranked Spartan team.  Washington State and Washington both dropped 7 spots.  And Auburn, bless their little hearts, fell 11 spots after losing this past weekend.

So where is this love for Clemson coming from?  Do they pass they “eye test?”

ClemsonEyeChart

Before the bye week, there was a lot of talk about whether a one-loss Georgia team (the presumptions being that Georgia wins out but loses to Alabama in the SEC title game) could jump an undefeated Nittany Lion team for a spot in the playoff.  I guess now the Bulldogs will have to worry about Clemson jumping them (assuming PSU wins out!)

Which reminds me . . .  Penn State has the first installment of a critical three game series of challenges.

THEM

As in The-M.  The Big Block M that marches across the field to the victors valiant.

The guys with wings (but not a  prayer) on their helmets (did you know that some maxipads have wings too?) come to Beaver Stadium for a 7:30 PM game.

The weather?  Meteorologists are calling for White Out conditions.

The betting line was 11 points favoring Penn State this morning.

The key to this game is simple really.  Penn State has to find a way to score against the Michigan defense.  Period.  Michigan has shown nothing offensively all year to suggest that they will put up many (any) points against the PSU defense.  The wolverines best hopes for an upset hinge on a combination of their defense scoring (pick six or scoop and score), a red zone defense that forces Penn State to kick field goals we can’t make, or a poor day by McSorley that allows the front line to bottle up Barkley.  Success in any one of those goals probably won’t be enough to win.  But two out of three could be disastrous for the Nittany Lions.    Multiple turnovers and missed field goals would be a nightmare.

Yet, I am very optimistic.  I’m not sure we’ve played our best game yet.  There is a lot of room for some improvement in things which are very improvable.  The bye week allowed us to evade the horror-filled losses that other top teams suffered, and allowed us to heal and work on our weaknesses.

We will know Saturday if we pass the eye test.

PennStateeyechart

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Anticipation . . .

Remember this commercial (OK, I’m dating myself a bit here):

I can’t remember the last time I was looking forward to a Penn State football game like I am looking forward to this weekend.

Maybe 2005?  Or 2010 when Joe Paterno won victory #400 over Northwestern?

Since the sanctions in 2011, however, PSU football changed.  No matter how well they performed on the field, there was no ranking.  No polls.  Who cares who won the Ohio State-Michigan game?  Or if Washington wins?  I didn’t even pay much attention to the polls the past five years–until a few weeks ago.

Bill bless-his-heart O’Brien made watching the games fun.  He might go for it on fourth down on his own twenty yard line.  You might be elated by a 4 OT win over the wolverines.  But you might witness Penn State’s first and only loss to Indiana in football.

I was getting tired of the old argument . . . the sanctions.  No depth.  Not enough talent.  Will take time to get back on top.  Anticipation . . .

Yet, here we are.  Tied at the top in our division.  Almost to the Big Ten Championship game.  Perhaps even a few lucky breaks away from a bigger prize . . . .

Spartans.  Spartans.  Spartans.  Focus, Todd.

Must.  Beat. Michigan State.

One game at a time.

The team that really has the conundrum is Michigan State.  I may be going out on a limb here, but even despite the ugly Land Grant Trophy that is up for grabs, a win over Penn State this weekend would be bittersweet.  The Spartans aren’t going anywhere in the post season regardless.  And a Spartan victory would send Michigan or Ohio State to the title game, and possibly a national championship.  I may be wrong here, but I doubt Michigan State fans loathe Penn State as much as they loathe their in-state rival, or the long history with Ohio State.  If I were a die-hard MSU fan, I might actually root for Penn State this weekend.

Of course, a Michigan win over the Buckeyes will put a considerable damper on things, but all will not be lost.  I almost feel kind of dirty rooting for the Buckeyes.  But these are strange times we live in.  I’m no fan of the wolverines either, and I can enjoy a victory over Harbaugh as much as one over Urban Meyer.  In this case, I could really enjoy it.  A happy Meyer begets a happy Lion.

So . . . .

GO STATE!  BEAT SPARTANS!

and LET’S GO BUCK-EYES!

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