Tag Archives: Michigan

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.


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!


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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:


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!


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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.


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 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.


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!


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.


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?”


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.


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.


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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 . . . .



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Weekly Game Guide: Hackenberg on the starboard side! Edition

Penn State has a bye week which gives us a chance to relish again the 4OT victory over the previously undefeated wolverines last week.

You can see a panoramic view of the game here.  I tried to find myself, but I was blocked by some people standing in front of me.  Down in front!  So much for my fifteen minutes of fame.

The game was far from perfect, but in the end, Penn State made one less mistake than THEM.  But the game was not about the Four OT’s, the blocked field goal or the miss by Gibbons.  It was everything about losing a lead, and fighting back against all odds.  The team never quit.  The coaches never quit.  The Devin squared tandem of Gardner and Funchess are going to score points on a lot of teams.  And although Gardner was playing Funchess while our secondary seemed to be playing Funcheckers, our coach made some gutsy calls late in the game while Hoke seemed to be reading Paterno:  By The Book and playing conservatively not to lose.

Was the QB sneak in regulation brilliant or a poor call that just worked out?  It had already failed earlier in the game, albeit I think that fourth down was slightly more than a yard, rather than inches.  But what if Hackenberg hadn’t made it?  What if it took them twenty seconds to unpile the mass of bodies on the goal line, with no touchdown signal.  With no time outs, the clock may have run out on what is now one of the best wins in the O’Brien era.

It’s funny how Sunday Morning (or Thursday evening) Quarterbacking works that way.  When you win, you tend to forget about the bad calls.  When you win, there are no bad calls.  If the players execute, the coach looks like a genius.  If the kid boots the field goal wide, the coach looks like a conservative jerk who should have played to win.

But even some visiting fans had a good experience, the outcome notwithstanding.  Although not this guy . . .

What’s worse than losing in 4 OTs?

From the above article . . .

This weekend was a different story. As the few Wolverine fans trickled into Beaver Stadium they realized that the structure was possibly even more impressive than our very own Big House.

The white out stands for what separates the Penn State game environment from that of Michigan. During a maize out, Michigan Stadium has one maize section where the students stand and a mixed bag of maize and blue throughout the rest of the bowl. Fans don’t put much stock in participating in the game atmosphere but simply want to watch their team win. It’s tradition.

But in Happy Valley every single fan is ready to cheer like crazy for Penn State from the opening kickoff. The white out was breathtaking. Over 100,000 strong were decked out in all white and shaking white pompoms as Bill O’Brien led his team onto the field. This scene was unlike anything our little group of Michigan students had ever experienced.

Though it has a smaller capacity than the Big House, Beaver Stadium is built entirely above ground and is much more intimidating both inside and outside. Second and third decks keep all of the sound in while reaching up much higher than the final rows in Ann Arbor. If you’re wondering how a structure like this can be safe, you aren’t alone.

Penn State’s famous chant is the Zombie Nation cheer, which gets the entire audience involved in jumping and screaming along. Because it was one of the things I was really looking forward to, I asked our host, a senior at Penn State, about Zombie Nation.

“There’s a new rule that we can only do it two times each game,” he told me. “We were doing structural damage to the stadium so they had to limit us.”

At the suggestion of damaging a concrete structure like Beaver Stadium I was astonished, but when Penn State came back and tied the game with under a minute remaining in regulation, Zombie Nation blared and the back wall of the stadium was visibly wavering back and forth with the Nittany Lion faithful.

It was the most incredible atmosphere I’ve ever been a part of, and I wasn’t even in an appreciative mood.

Following such an emotional win I expected to be mercilessly harassed by the Penn State students all night, but was surprised when they continued a trend set before the game. . .  It was extremely strange. We weren’t sure how we felt about the hospitality because it didn’t feel right, but it was much better than being harassed in Columbus or East Lansing. After the game there were fans that laughed and jeered at us, but the number that told us good game probably outnumbered them.

Even though they always seem to beat Michigan in recent years, and they ended our undefeated season, it’s hard to hate Penn State fans because of how cool they were; both when they were sure they would lose and after they had won.

I have been to Michigan Stadium thrice, and have been a-maized at how quiet those games have been except for the odd play or two every now and then.  My experience outside of the Penn State section was BAD.  The two games I sat with other PSU fans were positive experiences, except for one loss.  The stadium is built into the ground, so it doesn’t look like much outside on street level.  But it is a really big bowl that doesn’t hold the sound in well.  We’ll see how Indiana fares in that venue this week.

Speaking of this week, in the Big Ten . . .

THEM is favored by 9 points in Ann Arbor over the Hoosiers.  After losing to Indiana, I guess we have to root for the wolverines.  Did I just type that out loud?  Even if we can’t win a Big Ten Title, that doesn’t mean we can’t win a fantasy title, does it?

Iowa travels to Columbus to take on the Bucks who are favored by 16.5 points.  GO HAWKS!

Northwestern is favored by 12.5 and expected to bounce back against the Gophers.

The Boilers travel to face the Spartans in East Lansing.  Sparty is favored by . . .wait a minute till we add this all up . . . 26.5 points!  I hope Purdue wins, but I gotta say, Sparty wins this one.  No OTs will be required.

The Badgers, favored by 11.5, head to Illinois.  ON WISCONSIN!

Penn State and Nebraska are both off again.

Future Big Ten Team Maryland is favored by 6.5 over Wake Forest.  GO TERPS!

Rutgers is off.

In games around the country:

Miami (FL) is leading UNC 13-7 in the second quarter, but quite frankly, I’ve been watching the Pens who are up 2-1 on the Cryers at the end of two periods.  Philly accidentally scored a goal with 2 seconds left to actually make this a game!

Notre Dame is favored by 3 over Southern Cal.  GO TROJANS!

Stanford is favored by 5 over UCLA.  Hmm.  GO BRUINS!

Alabama is favored by 28.5 over Bret Beliema’s Hawgs.  ROLL TIDE ROLL!

F$U is favored by 3 over Clem’s son.  GO TIGERS!

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