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Poll Dancing

Penn State moved into both polls, entering the AP poll at #22 and the Coaches Poll at #23.

And in other news, Nebraska has De-Frost-ed, firing Head Coach Scott Frost after three games, two of which were losses.

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Bye Week Blues and More . . .

Penn State survived the bye week without dropping on either poll–coming in at 7th on the AP poll and 9th on the Coaches Poll.

Of course the Penn State of this season still rests on the health of one starting quarterback, fondly known as Sean Clifford, the Big Blue Lion. Details of his injury are sketchy and speculative, and the date of his return are sketchier yet.

Our future path would look something like this on an Etch-A-Sketch . . .

And to make losing our starting quarterback and the Iowa game even worse, the Hawkeyes got the proverbial #2 kicked out of them by Purdue. (A Purdue fan apparently twitterpated or instasnapped that pithy synopsis but I really like it.)

Unfortunately, as amusing as this Iowa loss to Purdue was (24-7 if you didn’t know!) you could insert Penn State into most of those memes the day after we lost to the Hawkeyes. The loss, a bittersweet karma, dropped the Hawkeyes to 11th place on both polls.

The AP top 4 now has Georgia, Cincinnati, Oklahoma and guess who—Alabama. Cincinnati only plays one more ranked team (SMU currently at 21st.) And while Bama and the Bulldogs will play each other at some point in all likelihood–Georgia should cruise and Alabama just has to get past Auburn– it is certainly foreseeable that one losing to the other wouldn’t necessarily drop the loser out of the playoff! Oklahoma does have some tough games left –Oklahoma State and Baylor. That might open the door for a Big Ten team to creep in. Contrast that with the road Penn State has to travel: Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State–all ranked in the top ten and only Michigan is at home. All of these teams have to play each other in the coming weeks.

But first, we have Illinois!

Homecoming at Beaver Stadium. A nooner start.

The opening line is 23-24 points favoring the Nittany Lions.

The New Mascot of Illinois
But this is what that reminds me of

Illinois is 2-5 with a surprising week one win over Nebraska, 30-22. Seven games later they have only one more win, over Charlotte. The secret apparently didn’t lie with Charlotte.

If Clifford doesn’t play, which I think is probably a real possibility–even if he could play it might be prudent to rest him for the next game. I know. I know. 1-0. Whatever. We should be able to beat the Illini with a back-up quarterback. I don’t think we stand a chance against the Buckeyes with what we saw in Iowa City during the second half.

GO STATE! BEAT ILLINI!

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WE ARE . . . LAVAR!

The updated AP Poll has come out and Penn State moved up 8 places to #11. We are only #13 in the Coaches Poll, with Oregon and Florida leapfrogging us on that poll.

The biggest mover is North Carolina dropping 14 spots to #24.

Indiana, Washington, LSU and Louisiana all dropped out. This made room for Auburn at 25, Ole Miss at 20, Virginia Tech at 19 and UCLA at 16.

Winners but losers (those who won but fell in the rankings): Oklahoma (down 2), Iowa State (down 2) and Oregon (down 1.)

Wisconsin fell 6 places to #18.

Interestingly, PSU also moved up from #14 to #11 on the ESPN Power Index, just behind . . . . Auburn!

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Getting Ready for the Season . . .

We are now less than a week away from the kick-off to the 2021 Penn State Football Season! That’s only FIVE days, which is like 35 in Fan Days (think dog years.) But it’s coming!

Unfortunately, this season will kick-off ON THE ROAD. On the road again, I just hate to get on the road again.

The Nittany Lions will be heading to Madison, Wisconsin to take on the Badgers. The betting line is somewhere around 4.5 points, favoring the home team. Oddshark predicts Penn State to win, cover the spread and they recommend betting the OVER. But has Oddshark jumped the shark?

Penn State leads the all-time series 10-9 and has won 7 of the last 10 games, riding a four game winning streak over the Cheeseheads.

How big is this game?

Bucky Likes Hugs. And football season.

About this BIG

Wisconsin is 12th in the AP and 15th in the Coaches Poll. Contrast that to Penn State’s 19th and 20th rankings.

Last season, Penn State lost a heart-breaking, monkey-wrenching, stomach-churning loss to Indiana. Whether that loss contributed to the subsequent 4 losses to open the season 0-5 is a matter of debate. But at the end of the day, who wants to spend that much time talking about losses? It’s much easier to make the assumption that we would have won more games had we not stubbed our toe coming out of the gate. I’m just going to go with that for now.

Fast forward to this season. A loss to Wisconsin will probably not lead to a loss to Ball State. perish the thought! Oh the inhumanity! I think it would take a lot more than that to give the State Ballers a chance. But this is a Big Ten game and every game matters.

We all know what’s at stake here. A fun-filled trip to cloudy Indianapolis in December! WHO DOESN’T WANT THAT?!?!? It’s probably on the bucket list of everyone that doesn’t have a bucket list.

But while travelling to Indianapolis is on par with having a root canal, playing in the conference championship is the real deal. The Holy Grail. The Secret of Life. The location of Jimmy Hoffa’s body. Wait. What? Okay, those superlatives may be best relegated to the Bowl Championship series, but if you want to be in (who’s in?) then you’ve got to win the Big Ten. Pretty much. It’s way too early waste time on other scenarios.

Will Clifford have the year we hoped he would have had last year? Will our minions of running backs actually be able to run the ball (which ultimately rests on whether our offensive line will be stellar and not, um, offensive?) The new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich (from Texas) presents a set of variables that even Isaac Newton would have trouble calculating–and he invented Calculus! During a pandemic!

Penn State has talent. That’s not to say that Wisconsin doesn’t. But if you look at the recruiting of these two schools, Penn State has out-performed all but one Big Ten Team from the state of Ohio. SB Nation has a composite recruiting ranking for the last four years. Do you believe that? Do I? Who the freak knows?!?! I don’t think the Facebook fact checkers or any of the election computers have weighed in on this. But according to this list, PSU is 10th in recruiting the past four years, whilst Da Badgers are 28th. Put that in your cheese and smoke it.

I really hate predicting games. If I was good at predicting numbers, quite frankly, I’d be predicting PowerBall numbers, not football scores. And, I tend to predict with my heart more than my cerebral cortex. But if you have to pin me down (not like that’s never happened before!) I am going to say Penn State wins a close one at Camp-Randall stadium. I’m looking for our offense to struggle a little early. Maybe we’ll be behind by a score or so at the half. And then, in typical James Franklin fashion, we come storming out in the second half, take a lead. And then almost blow it. But we don’t. Always in motion the future is, though.

Either way, win or lose, it is great to have college football back! I’m looking forward to being in Beaver Stadium on September 11th even if the opponent is just BALL STATE. We had our annual kick-off party this past Saturday. Unfortunately it rained and most of the afternoon was spent indoors instead of poolside in the back yard. Is that a sign? Is it GOOD or BAD? I don’t have any tea leaves to read and my bowling ball doesn’t substitute well for a crystal ball. But there was plenty of food and drink (school spirits!) and the Penn State trivia game was well-received. There was even a visit from a “real” PSU cheerleader. . . .

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Foreign FOUR

The Nittany Lions have entered foreign territory this week.  Unchartered waters.  Penn State has never been ranked in the Top 4 of the playoff system as it is now.

foreigner4

So long, I’ve been looking too hard, I’ve been waiting too long
Sometimes I don’t know what I will find, I only know it’s a matter of time

I’ve been waiting for a rank like you to come into my life

The Lions debuted at NUMBER 4 on the College Football Playoff Poll, presumably due to their schedule which was more difficult than Clemson’s.  Much to the chagrin of Clemson fans.  But that will all sort itself out for the Tigers as long as they keep winning . . . all four of the teams ahead of them play another one of the four in the coming weeks . . . two of them this weekend.

And while I am feeling fairly confident about this game, I was sitting in Beaver Stadium in 1999 when we played Minnesota–and I felt pretty confident we would win before that game.

NEVER FORGET . . . .

One Play.  One loss.  But it sparked a downward slide–the DARK YEARS–2000-2004.

 

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Bye Week Blues . . . and Whites

Was this not one of the most boring and uninspired weekends of college football?

Not only did Penn State have a bye week, but no team in the Top 5 played this past weekend.  Mea Culpua.  Clemson beat Wofford 59-14 but I’m not sure that counts as a game!  The marquee match up of the week was formerly undefeated SMU playing Memphis.  Memphis won and the number of undefeated teams drops to 7–LSU, Alabama, THE school formerly known as just Ohio State, Clemson, Penn State, Baylor and Minnesota.  Perhaps the most exciting game was the Irish win over Virginia Tech, coming from behind with an 87 yard drive as time expired to win 21-20.

Contrast that to this coming weekend where #1 and #2 will face off in Alabama, Wisconsin (#16) and Iowa (#18) battle it out in Madison, and Penn State (#5) and Minnesota (#13) will square off in Minnesota.

Minnesota?  That makes me think of . . .

grumpyoldmen

Or this guy . . .

minnesotafats

And their mascot is a gopher????  Well,this is what comes to my mind . . .

GopherLoveBoat

So what do we know about the Minnesota Gophers?

MinnesotaSchedule

Not a whole hell of a lot. While the goofy gophers are undefeated, their schedule has been less than impressive.  Granted, the Nittany Lions still have their toughest test ahead, but at least Penn State has beaten some ranked teams.  Minnesota has beaten some rank teams.

Iowa and Michigan are still ranked.  Pitt, Maryland and Michigan State all spent a few moments or two in the Top 25 at some point this season.

According to Team Rankings, Penn State has the 7th most difficult schedule (Auburn is #1) and the Golden Goophers are ranked at #77.

These two teams have two common:  Purdue and Maryland.  Penn State beat the boilermakers 35-7 while Minnesota won 38-31.  Against the Terps, Penn State shut them out 59-0 at Maryland, while the Gophers won 52-10 on their home turf.

OddsShark has Penn State around a 6 point favorite, but while they think Penn State wins, they predict Minnesota to cover, and take the over.  Their predicted score:  PSU 36- Minnesota 32.  I really don’t think the Gophers can put up 32 points against our defense, but with the unpredictability of our offense–and this is not a good type of unpredictability as when opponents can’t predict what we are going to do but rather we don’t know whether our offense is going to look good or not–I do think this will be a close game.

Saturday at noon, in a state called Minnesota, we shall find out.

aurevoirgopher

GO STATE!  BEAT GOPHERS!

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Sparty Crashers

This was supposed to be the trap game.  This was the latest game of reckoning, or as my fellow blogger, The Nittany Turkey calls it, the Sanguinarian Day of Reckoning.  Or one of many potential days of reckoning that have not yet reckoned.  Penn State had lost the last two to Michigan State and James Franklin was 1-4 against Mark Dantonio.  Michigan State was supposed to have our number, if not our playbook.

Douchebag

But the day of reckoning has been postponed at least another two weeks, as the Nittany Lions dominated the Spartans 28-7 in a torrential downpour in East Lansing, Michigan.  Did you by any chance see the woodshed beating that Michigan put on the Irish in the same downpour, albeit 66 miles or so away?  Makes our win over the wolverines look just a little more shiny this morning.

The only bad news is that this means we have to crate up and haul off the Land Grant Trophy to State College.  Shouldn’t the loser have to keep and dust this piece of crap? It resembles the moss covered three handled family credenza from the Cat in the Hat.  It’s eerily similar to the Lou Grant Trophy.  Don’t believe me?  Check it out . . .

LouGrantLandGrantTrophy

Despite the humiliation of having this monstrosity in our trophy case, the Nittany Lions improved to 8-0 on the season, #5 in both polls (thank you Kansas State and shame on you Auburn!), and Penn State pulls within one of evening up the all-time series with the Spartans at 16-17-1.

While Sean Clifford has had his ups and downs this season, certainly understandable given his first season as a starter, he found a way to throw FOUR touchdown passes under conditions that should be more conducive to a running game.  Pat Friermuth had a hat trick with three touchdown receptions himself.

The defense played their typical Penn State bend but don’t let the other team score defense, holding the Spartans to 83 yards on the ground for 2.7 yards per carry.  Only 7 points appeared on the scoreboard.  Penn State didn’t gain a lot on the ground either, but Noah Cain left the game early with an injury.

That is not to say that Penn State didn’t have it’s problems.  Today was the day for Special Teams to struggle, and that is not at all surprising given the weather conditions.  But a fumbled kick-off (ultimately recovered by the Lions,) a punt return for a touchdown called back for running into the kicker, a missed PAT, and a kick-off out of bounds all add up to a less than stellar performance.  But it was not a game close enough for special teams to make a difference.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Unlike last week, the numbers largely favor Penn State.  Both teams struggled on third down.  Penn State still is committing too many penalties, including spitting on the other team.  Really?  When you’re winning?  Not that losing justifies such behavior but at least we might understand how you could be upset enough to do something like that.

We actually won time of possession, by a small margin.

INTANGIBLES:

The Spartan faithful apparently booed their team as they left the field going into halftime.  The wet soggy crowd of 70,298 was not happy.  The stadium, at least as shown on TV, was never full.

8-0.

Sparty Martian

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

The Buckeyes continue to roll as they defeated Wisconsin 38-7.  Fields spent a few minutes in the medical tent.  The game was only 10-0 at the half and the Buckeyes scored a TD late in the second to take that lead into the locker room.

THEM, the wolverines, bounced back from their loss to us to completely embarrass the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 45-14.  Even the announcers were chastising the Irish for not showing up.  Maybe Michigan is pretty good.  I’m glad we played THEM when we did.  They will be a force to reckon with going forward.

Indiana secured bowl eligibility by defeating the Cornhuskers 38-31 for their third straight conference win and their first victory in Lincoln since 1959.

Minnesota is now 8-0, after dispatching Maryland 52-10 in Minneapolis.

Iowa beat Northwestern 20-0 with another great defensive effort.

After beating Wisconsin last week, the Illini followed up their encore performance with a victory over Purdue 24-6.

And Rutgers won a game!  Not a Big Ten game.  Not against an FBS team.  But by God they beat Liberty 44-34!  Take that, Jerry Falwell!

MEANWHILE . . . 

In Manhattan . . . Kansas State held off an Oklahoma comeback as the Sooners appeared to have recovered an onside kick, but on further review were found to be guilty of touching the ball before it went ten yards.   K-state won 48-41 in a thriller.

In Baton Rouge . . . LSU hung on to defeat Auburn 23-20.  The Tigers are off next week before facing Bama.

In Mobile Alabama . . . it wasn’t the Crimson Tide but App State beat the snot out of South Alabama 30-3 to remain unbeaten on the season.

In Fort Worth . . . TCU upset the 15th ranked Longhorns 37-27.

In Houston . . . SMU remained undefeated by beating the Cougars 34-31.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Bye Week.

I will look at the upcoming game with Minnesota next week.

 

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The Fast and the Victorious

I toyed with titling this episode, The Fast and the Inglorius, but in the end, we were victorious 35-7.

But 28 of those points were scored quickly in just the first 16 minutes of play.  FAST.

Not until Noah Cain (did they say NO GAIN?  NOVACAINE?) ran for two yards with 5:44 left on the clock in the fourth did the Lions add another point to their explosive start.  Is the further lack of stomping on Purdue inglorious?  Who knows?

What happened between then and there?

I think one factor was the interception thrown by Clifford in the second period.  From that point on, it seemed like things changed.  My friend pointed out that we didn’t throw any more crossing routes over the middle like we did last week versus Maryland, and in the early scoring frenzy of this rout.  It was as if Joe Paterno took over the play calling from Ricky Rahne and we went into a prevent offense mode.  Well, maybe not that bad, but the whole feng shui of the offense changed from that point, and not for the better.

Another factor could be the weather.  The wind seemed to be swirling a bit and gusty at times.  I sit in the North End Zone, and the only score in that end zone was a short drive when the Lions failed to finish things up at the end of the first quarter at the other end of the field.  Even our field goal attempt that was missed happened at the North end.

Now it seemed to me as if the wind was blowing into the North End zone (into my face), and traditional football logic is that favors passing teams to play with the wind, but neither team seemed to move the ball northward very well.  Most of the game seemed to be played on the other side of the fifty.

Whatever fire was lit in the first quarter, died in the second, and Noah Cain’s 27 yard-bust up the gut that set up his 2 yard TD run late in the fourth was but a glowing spark from the dying fire.

No matter which half of the game you over-analyze the offense, the defense played another suffocating game against a mid-lower tier Big Ten opponent, playing without their starting QB and wide receiver.

Iowa next week will be our biggest test to date (although Pitt somehow managed to survive a Duke comeback and still win) and I am looking forward to seeing how we handle the Hawkeyes who were only able to put up 3 points in the Big House.

In a way, I’m happy we didn’t continue to roll over Purdue 56-0.  Our kicking miscues (missed FG and kick out of bounds) demonstrate some areas to work on.  Punting returns are still adventurous, but mostly because teams won’t chance kicking directly to KJ.  And our offense needs to continue working on some consistency.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Another week of pick a number, any number, and it probably favors Penn State.

PurduePete

Purdue managed only 104 total yards and that includes -19 yards rushing.  MINUS 19.

Penn State won time of possession 33:38 to 26:22.  Still probably means nothing.

Purdue converted just one of 15 third down attempts, and 0-1 fourth down attempts.

INTANGIBLES:

The official attendance was 106,536.

Penn State is 72-23-5 in Homecoming games.

PSUtrumpets

Penn State leads the series over the Boilermakers 15-3-1.

The Drum Major stuck both flips.  The Alumni Band performed with their usual indomitable spirit.

Tommy Stevens was among the Alumni who returned to Happy Valley.

Penn State moved up 2 pots on both polls (AP/Coaches) to 10/9 respectively.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

The Buckeyes avoided a third straight loss to the Spartans, but were rattled a little bit early on.  They get some separation late in the second quarter,taking a 27-10 lead into the half.  The final score was 34-10 with only 7 points coming in the second half.  Didn’t we just read a bout another team that did the same?  At home?  Weird, huh?

At the Big House, THEM scored just three points off four turn-overs, but still won 10-3 over the Hawkeyes in Ann Arbor.

Wisconsin shut out Kent State, winning 48-0.

Maryland rebounded against Rutgers 48-7.  Not a good start for the Scarlet Knights interim head coach Nunzio Campanile.

Minnesota blasted the Illini 40-17.

And Nebraska kicked a FG as time expired to beat Northwestern 13-10.

MEANWHILE . . . 

In Durham . . . Pitt squandered a 26-3 lead and found themselves behind 30-26 with 1:29 left in the game.  But those pesky panthers weren’t done.  Pitt scored with 38 seconds still remaining to upset the Duke Blue Devils 33-30.

In South Bend . . . Notre Dame cruised past Bowling Green 52-0.  Ian Book threw for 5 touchdowns.  Is he any relation to Mac Book?  Does he use a Surface too?

In the Swamp . . . 10 Florida defeated #7 Auburn 24-13.

And in Cincinnati . . . the Bearcats hand the previously ranked UCF Knights their second loss, 27-24.

LOOKING AHEAD:

The Lions head to Iowa for a prime time game with the Hawkeyes.

IowaSchedule

From ESPN

So with no common opponents, what can we say?

I think the key to this game is whether or not we can score against the Hawkeye defense, and avoid costly turn-overs (don’t pay more than $1.50 for the apple ones!)  Iowa is generally well coached.  Their atmosphere will be electric.  The sick kids in the hospital over looking the stadium will be rooting for Iowa.  But I really think our defense will keep the Hawkeyes off the board for the most part.  In teams with a pulse, Iowa scored 18 versus Iowa State and 3 against the wolverines.  I don’t see them scoring 18 against us, but they have not allowed more than 17 points to anyone yet.  I think that will change, but I have less confidence in our offense than our D at this point in the season,and I think it is generally more difficult for offenses on the road than defenses.

I saw one line with Penn State as a 3.5 point favorite.

GO STATE!  BEAT HAWKS!

 

 

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Tuesday Todds & Ends

Where did the weekend go?

Not only is not the weekend anymore, but it’s not even Monday.  I fully planned on recapping the bye week for Penn State–well, not Penn State so much as the rest of the Big Ten–but good Lord, it’s Tuesday already!

And we have a game on FRIDAY!

FridayNight

Holy Crap!

“THE” BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

So in case you missed it, Michigan (“THEM”, as in The-M) fell to the Badgers 35-14 and let’s be honest here–it wasn’t even that close.  The Wolverines first score came in the second half after 30 yards in unsportsmanlike penalties and 2 ejections for targeting by the Badgers.  Their trip to Camp Randall was more like a camp counselor’s trip to Camp Crystal Lake.

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes rolled Miami (OH) 76-5.  Yeah, but what could you do against Idaho?  Huh?  Huh?  There was a fumble in the end zone that gave the Redhawks a safety, so they had that going for them.

Indiana crushed UConn 38-3 and it wasn’t in basketball.

The Spartans rebounded with a 31-10 win over Northwestern.  Dantonio’s face remained unchanged.  Is the man even alive?  OK.  He’s a zombie.

The Cornhuskers outlasted the Illini 42-38.

And then there was Rutgers.  The big R managed a brilliant loss to Boston College 31-16.

MEANWHILE . . . 

In Georgia, the Bulldogs beat the Irish in a nail biter, 23-17.

In Pittsburgh, the Panthers upset 15th ranked UCF, and handed the Knights their first regular season loss since November of 2016.

In Buffalo, the Bulls beat Temple 38-22.  See below.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Penn State heads to College Park Maryland for a Friday Night Lights game with the Terrapins.  Is that exciting or what?  I’d go with or what.

My God, our out team isn’t ready to play at noon on a Saturday.  How in the name of Mother Mary and Joseph V.  Paterno are they going to be ready to play on a Friday Night????

The Terps absolutely beat the duck out of Howard, 79-0 in their opening game.  They followed this with an impressive performance over then ranked #21 Syracuse, crushing the Orange 63-20 and taking the AP #21 spot for themselves.  This era of good feelings didn’t last long for the turtles, though, as Temple (the very same Temple that lost to Buffalo) defeated them 20-17 the following week.  No rank for you!

The Lions are at 12/11 on the AP/Coaches polls.  The spread favors the Lions by 7 currently.

Maryland is having a black out this Friday night.  (They forgot to pay the electric bill!)  Think white out only black.  But according to one PSU fan with extra time on his hands this past weekend, we have nothing to fear . . .

Since the tradition began in 2005:

  • The blackout has never featured two ranked teams
  • Maryland is 0-1 playing in the blackout as a ranked team (2008, Loss to FSU 37-3)
  • Maryland is 0-7 playing in the blackout VS a ranked team
  • Maryland is 2-4 when both teams enter the match up outside the AP top 25
  • Maryland is 2-5 in night game blackout games
  • Overall Maryland is just 2-12 in blackout games since the tradition began

UMTurtle

What they think they are . . . .

UMTurtle2

What they really are!

GO STATE!  BEAT TERPS!

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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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