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.
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.)
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.
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.
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????