It certainly wasn’t playing football on Saturday afternoon. Maybe playing BAD football. But that was supposed to be Rutgers’ job.
We often play down to the level of our competition, but that was ridiculous!
We looked like a pro football team that has already clinched the play-offs and sat their starters out for the last game so as not to injure any one in a meaningless game before the all important play-off games begin.
But we hadn’t clinched anything. With a Rose Bowl bid possibly on the line, we played like we didn’t care. As impressed as I was with the gutsy performance of this team a week ago–hanging in there with Suckeyes to the bitter end, I was just as unimpressed by any performance in any category by this team on Saturday. We didn’t just mail it in. We sent smoke signals or Morse code.
That was the most boring, yet annoyingly nerve wracking game I have ever sat through in Beaver Stadium.
7-3 at the half? Are you kidding me? You are one play away from being beaten by Rutgers. 2-9 and NO Big Ten wins Rutgers!
Granted, it was not an exciting prospect on paper. 41 point favorites. No Big Ten Title to play for. No real rival on rivalry weekend. The stadium was sparse–the students went home from break, and we couldn’t even complete the “S” in the “S zone” until late in the second quarter. The fan enthusiasm–myself included–was close to zero. It was cold but not the coldest, and it was mostly tolerable. Hunting season opened early. More fans gone.
And even if we were playing to eke out a win without injuring anyone, we failed. Wade and Reid both went down on the same play. Reid never returned.
I know Rutgers was only playing for pride, but daggummit, they played harder than we did. Was Franklin hoping to drop out of the Top 10 and maybe get a lesser bowl opponent to pad his career stats?
The problem with the one game one week attitude–that is, there is a one game season each week and you try to go 1-0 that week–is that when you ultimately don’t go 1-0, the season goes down the toilet bowl, instead of the Rose Bowl. None of the performances since the Minnesota loss have been our best possible efforts–coaching or executing on both sides of the ball.
And I know Clifford was injured. That did make an impact. Let’s face it. Levis is the better running QB, but he can’t throw. We had no deep threat whatsoever.
Rutgers is 105th in rushing defense. Yet Journey Brown managed a mere 103 yards on sixteen carries, eclipsed by the QB Levis’s 108 on 17 carries. Mostly in the second half. The Scarlet Knights are slightly better in pass defense, tied for 77th in passing yards allowed (232.5 per game) but we could only manage 81 yards passing for the game. Want something more funny? The team Rutgers is tied with for passing yards allowed is . . . wait for it . . . it’s coming . . . Penn State!
The Altoona Mirror proclaimed “A win is still a win” in it’s Sunday sports headline. That’s true for sure. A loss would have been immeasurably worse. But this is not the way to end one’s regular season and send off the seniors. (See more below.)
BY THE NUMBERS:
Seriously? This was Rutgers. 2-9. No conference wins. Yet they won time of possession, total yards and out gained us in the air 199-81! We were 3 of 10 on third downs. Rutgers had 2 more first downs than we did. Scoreboard, baby. 27-6. Still not sure how we managed that and I was there!
The Drum Major stuck both flips.
The crowd attendance is listed at 98,895. If there were that many bodies in the stadium, they must have been huddled by the heaters in the bathrooms. There were not that many people in the stands.
Penn State leads the series 28-2 all-time.
The Rutgers Scarlet Knight prowled the sideline below us, brandishing a sword. How did he get that in past security? Doesn’t exactly make me feel safe!
THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:
So Wisconsin and the $uckeyes will square off for the Big Ten Title. This will be a rematch, as Ohio $tate already beat the badgers 38-7. I don’t expect the badgers to keep this close, even on a neutral field.
MEANWHILE, IN . . . .
Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL . . . the Tide lost to the Tigers after being flagged for too many men on the field. The penalty allowed Auburn to keep possession and run out the clock. I wonder if Bama fans are fickle like PSU fans and are calling for Saban to move on? I wonder if there’s a special teams coach looking for a job today?
Somewhere in Minnesota . . . the Gophers controlled their destiny and that destiny was a losing one. They got beaten by the badgers 38-17, sending Wisconsin to face the $uckeyes. You caught us off guard you goofy little gophers. Shame on us.
There will be a bowl game. Time and place and opponent to be determined.
But I want to take this moment to chastise the Big Ten and their scheduling. At one time, Penn State played Pitt, often on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and never had trouble filling their stadium for that game. It was a rivalry.
The Big Ten has tried to fabricate some rivalries for PSU–most notably the MSU-PSU Land Grant Trophy game, but let’s face it, that was never a rivalry like Pitt was. I think a couple of years we even finished with Nebraska, which was a rivalry back in the eighties when Paterno and Osborne squared off on the sidelines. That would have been a better draw than Rutgers. Rutgers wasn’t ever a rivalry and never will be.
For all that Penn State has done for the Big Ten (I’m sorry, but we elevated this conference from a stodgy old leather helmet era and thanks to Paterno this conference pioneered the now ubiquitous instant reply for officiating)–they can argue all they want, but the Ohio State fans storming the field after beating us suggests we are more of a rival than they are willing to admit–we deserve a better end game than Rutgers.
I understand you have that whole Michigan-Ohio State think shoved up your butts. I’m okay with that. Maybe Michigan will even win a game again someday. But throw us a bone. Michigan State would have been better than Rutgers. Give us Nebraska to close out the season. No one cared about the game Saturday including the fans that actually did show up. It was a snooze fest from the start, and we are just lucky that the team sort of woke up in the second half.
And maybe take out one of the two bye weeks and end the season before the last day of November when the students are still in class. Just thinking outside the box here.
And if you are wondering, we finish with Rutgers the next three years and Maryland in 2023. Not until 2024 do we finish with Michigan State again.