Tag Archives: recap

Roses are Red, But I am Blue

Better late than never, they always say.

But is a recap of the 2017 Rose Bowl really worth anything at this point?  Who wants to read about that now?  It’s been a whole week for goodness sake!  That’s like 49 years in blog years.  The Steelers won their first play-off game yesterday, but I imagine most web browsers are more interested in Ben Roethlisberger’s ankle or Joey Porter’s arrest following their win than they are in rehashing the X’s and O’s of Sunday’s victory over the Dolphins.

dolphin

While I have revived this blog, such as it is, I have not completely revived my zealousness for blogging.  Years ago, I created the 50-Yard Lion Blog for Penn Live, an on-line adjunct to the Harrisburg Patriot News.

At that time, I posted nearly every day.  Maybe it was a recruiting tidbit.  Or a funny picture/meme.  Or a blurb about an opponent.  Or something I read on a message board.  Whatever.  I posted like I was being paid to do it.  Well, I was.

But after a complaint by an Ohio State fan, I was unceremoniously dumped, and left to blogging on my own, sans remuneration.  The zeal has never been the same.

So here are my post-bowl season thoughts on the Rose Bowl (I know, there’s still a bowl game tonight between Alabama and some other team that also lost to Pitt and must have been way more impressive than Penn State so we don’t really care do we–bowl season for most of us blue and white fans ended about 9 pm January 2nd. but I digress):

Damn it!  I’m proud of this team.  The final two minutes were anti-climatic and completely unscripted.  They spoiled what turned out to be one of the most special seasons for Penn State football ever.  We were lucky to even be here.  After the last five seasons, I would never have expected to be in a prestigious bowl at all.

We have almost everyone coming back.  Next year should be fun to watch!

I am already looking forward to September.

You have to give credit to USC.  Down 14 points in the fourth quarter, they did just what Penn State has done to other opponents all season long.  They didn’t give up.  They made the plays they had to make.  They took advantage of our mistakes.

I really wish we had faked the hand off to Barley on 3rd and 4, and then passed the ball for a first down.  USC was waiting on Barkley.  I think a play-action fake would have left something open on a quick slant or to the tight end over the middle.  The time we ran off the clock by losing yardage on a play doomed to fail turned out to be inconsequential, and a first down would have probably won the game.

I vowed to myself not to play the coulda, shoulda, woulda exercise in futility with this game.  But I just did it.  I am a bad person.

I hope we can hold on to our coaches, at least for another season.  There has already been interest in Morehead and Pry.  They are staying for now, but we know how loud money can talk sometimes.

I’m glad I opted not to go to the game.  I had my finger poised to purchase tickets, but the total cost of the trip seemed too excessive given my current circumstances.  (No one’s paying me to write this tripe anymore!) But that lack of regret is not based on the outcome so much as the Rose Parade weather looked gray and cold, and even the game seemed unseasonably cooler than expected.  It would have pissed me the hell off to no end to spend that much money and have to wear a coat in Southern California.  And then to lose the game on top of it!

I am blue, though.  I really thought they would win this game.  I really thought we had it won when we were up 14 points in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. I even EXPECTED the Trojans to miss the field goal and send the game into over time.  It’s not like he hadn’t already missed two kicks.  Or maybe we would block it ala Ohio State.

But for some teams, the glass slipper shatters before midnight.  There is no prince.

But I think there will be a happily ever after.

It was still a phenomenal and fun season.

And despite losing the Rose Bowl, the future still looks rosy.

I remember feeling this way after losing to Oklahoma in 1985.  That loss though, was a springboard to the 1986 undefeated championship season.  Could history be repeating itself?

Only time will tell.

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Badgers Bested in BIG Bout

Seriously, who would have thought back in September that Penn State would be playing in Indianapolis this past weekend?  After a narrow loss to Pitt, and uninspired wins over Kent State and Temple, and a dreadful disaster in Ann Arbor, there were probably a lot of fans wondering if Penn State could even become bowl eligible, let alone win the conference and secure a spot in the Rose Bowl.

psuwinsbig

Yet, Saturday, our beloved Nittany Lions took the field, slight underdogs to the big bad boys of Wisconsin who averaged something like 600 pounds on the offensive line.   They defeated the Badgers in a come from behind win that has become their signature this season.  The final was 38-31 and was sweet for a school and fan base who has suffered needlessly the past five years.

One Penn State fan wrote a public letter to Dr. Emmert, who spearheaded the sanctions against Penn State:

At no point in the investigation or trial of Jerry Sandusky was one student-athlete ever implicated in either aiding and abetting Sandusky or in covering up said crimes. Despite that, Dr. Emmert, you chose to sanction a football program and, ultimately, student-athletes, to say nothing of the dedicated student fan base who had nothing to do with the horrific mistreatment of children. And, when you quietly walked back the sanctions and restored the wins to Coach Joe Paterno, you never apologized to those students or alumni for what seemed to be a vengeance against our beloved university.

And that, Dr. Emmert, is why Saturday night in Indianapolis was so sweet. For the athletes who stayed and for those who moved on. For the students who looked beyond the headlines and applied and were accepted to our great university. For our alumni – our wonderful, dedicated alumni. For Coach Bill O’Brien and Coach James Franklin and their staffs. For the lives that have been positively impacted by the research and teaching of our faculty. For the hundreds of thousands of diehard Penn Staters, the 2016 football season only represents what we already know. Penn State is an amazing place. We never believed that we were who you tried to tell us we are.

Dr. Emmert, we are Penn State.

Last week, I posted some numbers about Penn State’s performance vis-a-vis first and second half performances.  I concluded that giving up 28 points in the first half was a bad thing, since both games where opponents scored 28 points in the opening half were losses.

And as the Badgers went up 28-7 in the first half, I did start to have my doubts.  Couple this with the fact that Wisconsin was running the ball virtually at will, and we didn’t seem to have an answer for that.  But apparently, we had them right where we wanted them

The scenario played out as it had for most of this season.  Penn State narrowed the deficit to 14 before the half, and then outscored the Badgers 24-3 in the second half to win the Big Ten Title.

Simply amazing.

Trace McSorely had a record setting day passing.  The defense adjusted and Wisconsin no longer moved the line of scrimmage at will.  Our defense stuffed the over weighted Badger line on fourth down to secure the win.

But while the SEC, PAC-10, and ACC will send their champions to the college playoffs, the Big Ten will send a team that LOST to their champion.  I know, the conference had nothing to do with the selection.  But  . . .

Oddly enough, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney argued before the championship game that Ohio State had “done enough” to earn a spot in the playoff.  Is it any wonder that the fans in Indianapolis booed him soundly during the awards ceremony?

What did the chief representative of this conference have to gain by arguing that the winner of the conference championship did not deserve to be in the playoffs?  Shouldn’t he have been lobbying for two conference teams to be in the playoff?  Wouldn’t that have been good for the conference? (Of course, if he made that argument, he would in all likelihood be arguing that Ohio State and MICHIGAN be in the playoff together).

Is it mere coincidence that one of the playoff committee members is Barry Alvarez, a former Wisconsin coach with strong Big Ten ties?

Some would argue that we should be happy.   Maybe we don’t want to play Alabama?  The Rose Bowl is a really nice bowl in a really nice environment with really nice weather and a really, really nice parade.

So for an NFL team, is just making it to the playoffs as good as making it to the Superbowl?

We can argue for hours about why Penn State should be in the playoffs.  We could do the same for Western Michigan, Michigan, Oklahoma, and whoever else feels slighted.

It seemed the stars were aligning.  But in the end, they got sucked into a black hole of politics and rhetoric.

Sometimes an entire season comes down to a play or two that makes a difference.  Had Penn State not been intercepted by Pitt and won that game, they might have made it in at 11-1.  Had Michigan State kicked an extra point instead of going for two against the Buckeyes, maybe they would be out.  If we hadn’t had half our defense out for injuries against Michigan, maybe the score wouldn’t have looked so bad.

But . . . had we not blocked the punt against OSU–or if Urban had chosen to punt us deep or if Wisconsin had made their last fourth down or if Minnesota hadn’t lost to us in OT . . .  the what if game just goes on and on and on and on and on.

It sure would have been fun to see what this team could do against Alabama.

Instead, we’ll get to see them in action against a very good Southern Cal team.  And Tide jokes are never as funny as Trojan jokes.

After the way September went, I’m thrilled to see this team head to Pasadena.

 

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Indiana Groans in Raiders of the Last Quarter

Penn State left Bloomington, Indiana with a 45-31 victory, but the outcome was far from established as the Lions trailed 24-14 with 3:13 left in the third quarter.

The first half was so boring that the TV network concentrated more on how some kids were going to get a football out of a pine tree near the stadium.  At one point, there were three footballs stuck in the fir tree, because some future brilliant IU students thought the best way to get the ball out of the tree was to throw more balls at it.  Amazingly, this did not work.  But just so you can sleep tonight–they got all the balls safely out of the tree.  And we know this because of the stellar off the sideline reporting.  At least, the TV network this week showed the correct game.

The dramatic come from behind win over the Buckeyes–faint memory of the past, fading with each tick of the clock as the Hoosiers out-gained us, out-first downed us, and in the end, ultimately out-fumbled us.  Total domination over Iowa a week before–may as well have been centuries ago.  Football wasn’t even invented then.

All of the good feeling of this resurgent season came to rest on this team as they  mounted a 5 play, 74 yard drive scoring drive in 1:41  to pull within three points before going into the final quarter of play.

As we sat in Champs to watch Indiana play us to a 14-14 draw at the half way point, I mused that we were definitely a second half team.  We always seem to play better in the second half.  We make adjustments.  Just wait.

As we fell behind by 10 late in the third, I was amending my assessment.  We are a fourth quarter team.  We always play better in the fourth quarter.  If we go into OT then we will definitely be a better over-time team.  We are like wine–we get better with age.

Something had to be done.  During the Ohio State game, my niece, sitting behind us, somehow managed to spill her hot chocolate on us, if you define spill as splattering us from head to toe (yes, we were wearing white jackets!), the people in front of us, and the lady across the aisle.  It was like being in the Shamu splash zone.  But it somehow was the pivotal point where Penn State started took control of that game.

In the second half of the Purdue game, we ordered victory egg rolls.  And Penn State rolled to a victory over the Boilermakers.  Do you see a pattern here?  I don’t either.  I am digressing at an alarming rate, and I appear to be obsessed with food and drink.

Hot chocolate wasn’t on the menu.  I was reluctant to put that much pressure on egg rolls again.  They can only handle so much, you know.  So I ordered a pretzel.

Brilliant!

The team came alive as I enjoyed that soft pretzel.   McSorley added some razzle dazzle flea flicking passing and the Lions surged ahead.  But Indiana would not stop.

THEY.  WOULD.  NOT.  STOP.  Were they not the least bit distracted by the football eating tree in the back of the endzone?

They were relentless.  They were really starting to irritate me.  Die Hoosiers!  Die!  All hail the magic pretzel.  My friend ordered a pretzel, and Penn State surged ahead once again after the annoying Hoosiers took back the lead 31-28.

In the end, the defense came up with the biggest play of the day, stripping Indiana’s QB of the ball and then scooping and scoring the final seven points to cap victory number 8.  I wonder if Torrence Brown had a pregame pretzel?

Later, John sent out this text to some of his other buddies:

Down 24-14 and things looking bleak my friend Todd made what at the time seemed like a selfish move by ordering a bowl of soup and a pretzel.  What I didn’t know at the time was the pretzel was a good luck pretzel.  As soon as it hit the table the comeback started.

After Michigan lost to Iowa, he texted me:

That pretzel looks even bigger now.

Harbaugh losing capped a wonderful day of football.  Pitt upset Clemson and USC took out Washington, as numbers 2,3 and 4 all fell.  None of those teams fell behind us in the polls, but we moved up to 9th in the AP poll as Auburn tumbled out of the top ten.

Penn State opened as a 24.5 point favorite over Rutgers.  The Scarlet Pimpernel’s are coming off a 49-0 loss to the Spartans, which is MSU’s first and only Big Ten win on the season.  RU notched wins over New Mexico and Howard (the football team not the duck,) solidifying Rutgers claim to being the Birthplace of (REALLY BAD) football.

GO STATE!  BEAT KNIGHTS!

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Filed under football, Penn State, Uncategorized

WildCatastrophe

What in the name of sweet baby JoePa was that????!!!!!

Seriously.  What the [insert word] happened?

Granted, we knew this team had some issues.  The offensive line has been about as good as France when it comes to keeping the enemy out of its territory.  Christian Hackenberg vacillates from Heisman hopeful to blind man chucking acorns at a cat.  Our defense has traditionally (as in so far this season) started slow, allowing most opponents to score early on us or at least move the ball at will early, but has to date closed the door when the freaking door needed closing.  It seemed like they not only left the damned door open Saturday, but put up signs to show the way.

This was a team effort loss, that no missed pass interference penalty could hope to save.  Losing on Homecoming, 29-6?  To Northwestern?  Ugh!

Special teams were anything but special.  A blocked field goal and a long punt return to give the Wildcats a short field were glaringly obvious, but what went through Grant Haley’s mind when he tried to run the ball deep out of our endzone on a couple of kick-offs.  This game could have been a lot worse if Northwestern hadn’t kept trying to let us back into it, with missed field goals of their own and one decent punt return by Della Valle, and TWO-count em–PATs missed.  And they still won!

This is worse than a 63-14 loss to a top ranked team.  This was an unranked Northwestern team that although they played fired-up and inspired football against us, is a very pedestrian team.  They will be will be lucky to become bowl eligible (and we appear to be in that location as well.) This was a match-up of two mediocre teams and we outmediocred the competition.  There are no bowls for that kind of effort, unless you count your own toilet bowl.

I honestly thought this was going to be a breakout game.  I hedged my prediction, knowing that we had the aforementioned “issues,” but I did not see this beat down coming.

I don’t know where to begin to pick up the pieces.  Is it simply the sanctions?  Is it coaching?  I really like James Franklin.  I love his style; his energy.  I love his recruiting ability.  But some of his game time decisions leave me scratching my head, although I don’t know for sure if he calls the offensive plays or not.  He is not coaching a group of athletes that he recruited, so we must temper that with our criticism.  Sanctions notwithstanding, he started from zero with this team.  But just because the sanctions have vanished in the future, does not change the effect they had on this team to date.

And you can’t blame the coach for Hackenberg flat out missing a wide open Belton, or any other of the numerous really bad throws he had.  But one wonders why we didn’t see Crook late in the game, when the chance of winning was really beyond what we had time left to do.  Speaking of which, why weren’t we going no huddle in the fourth quarter?  We needed scores, and instead were throwing pick sixes and taking our good old time failing at this one.  I actually think Hack plays better in the hurry-up, pressure on, package–in general.

I’m not saying that Northwestern didn’t play a good game–so if you are a Wildcat fan, don’t get your panties all bunched up.  Ya done good.  Your coach was prepared for this game.  Ours was not, for whatever reason.  And maybe if you keep up that intensity week after week, you’ll make me eat my words.  But until then . . .

I’m going to blame this on ourselves.  The only reason we’re not 5-0 right now is because we did not execute, did not adapt during the game, failed to capitalize on our opponent’s mistakes, and played some of the most uninspired football I have personally witnessed since we lost to Iowa 6-4.  And at least the defense played a great game then!

But this is not a sky is falling rant.  We have another very beatable opponent coming up in the form THEM.  They followed up their epic loss to Utah with an even more epic fail against Minnesota.  Unfortunately, I think we could still outmediocre them as well, but at least we have an extra week to teach blocking, tackling, and kicking.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Per GoPSUsports:

 

Team Statistics

 Team Totals  NU  PSU 
FIRST DOWNS  17  14 
   Rushing 
   Passing  14 
   Penalty 
NET YARDS RUSHING  103  50 
   Rushing Attempts  38  25 
   Average Per Rush  2.7  2.0 
   Rushing Touchdowns 
   Yards Gained Rushing  121  79 
   Yards Lost Rushing  18  29 
NET YARDS PASSING  258  216 
   Completions-Attempts-Int  21-37-1  22-46-1 
   Average Per Attempt  7.0  4.7 
   Average Per Completion  12.3  9.8 
   Passing Touchdowns 
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS  361  266 
   Total offense plays  75  71 
   Average Gain Per Play  4.8  3.7 
Fumbles: Number-Lost  0-0  1-1 
Penalties: Number-Yards  8-75  4-35 
PUNTS-YARDS  6-223  7-250 
   Average Yards Per Punt  37.2  35.7 
   Net Yards Per Punt  26.7  29.7 
   Inside 20 
   50+ Yards 
   Touchbacks 
   Fair catch 
KICKOFFS-YARDS  6-384  3-191 
   Average Yards Per Kickoff  64.0  63.7 
   Net Yards Per Kickoff  44.5  36.7 
   Touchbacks 
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD  1-42-0  2-43-0 
   Average Per Return  42.0  21.5 
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD  2-56-0  4-67-0 
   Average Per Return  28.0  16.8 
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD  1-49-1  1-2-0 
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD  0-0-0  0-0-0 
Miscellaneous Yards  -20 
Possession Time  30:23  29:37 
   1st Quarter  8:58  6:02 
   2nd Quarter  5:46  9:14 
   3rd Quarter  5:52  9:08 
   4th Quarter  9:47  5:13 
Third-Down Conversions  7 of 17  3 of 17 
Fourth-Down Conversions  0 of 2  1 of 4 
Red-Zone Scores-Chances  4-6  1-2 
   Touchdowns  3-6  0-2 
   Field goals  1-6  1-2 
Sacks By: Number-Yards  4-20  1-13 
PAT Kicks  2-4  0-0 
Field Goals  1-2  2-3 
Points off turnovers  18 

Pick a number–any number.  It’s bad. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.  Oh, we were okay in time of possession!  And we actually held the Wildcats to around a 100 yards rushing.

INTANGIBLES:

The Drum Major stuck both flips, so we got that going for us.

The weather was perfect.

The Alumni Band performed–great to see the combined units playing together!

This is Franklin’s first loss.

PSU still owns the all-time record at 13-4.

And just what the hell is with the traffic going through Toftrees???!!!  What a clusterf*ck!  Been going that way for 14 years.  Traffic usually doesn’t back up until you go under the 322 underpass going up Fox Hollow Road.  Took me a goddamned hour from getting off the exit on 322 until we got to our parking spot (bumper to bumper from the first golf cart crossing!)  I shouldn’t have to leave Altoona earlier than 8 am for a freaking noon game.

The traffic at Toftrees . . .

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

The Buckeyes struggled early but pulled away from Cincinnati, 50-28.

Likewise, Wisconsin started slow, but beat South Florida 27-10.

MSU soundly defeated Wyoming 56-14.

Rutgers defeated Tulane 31-6.

In conference action . . .

THEM lost to Minnesota 30-14.

Nebraska crushed the Illini 45-14.

Maryland defeated Indiana 37-15.

Purdue Outmediocred Iowa, losing 24-10.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  For the Penn State Alumni–at least the tailgate weather was nice.

2.  For Pitt–losers to Akron 21-10.  Hey, didn’t we beat Akron???

3.  Arkansas–lost to 6th ranked Aggies in OT

4.  UMass–lost 47-42 to Bowling Green to go 0-5.

5.  New Mexico State–lost 63-7 to LSU

LOOKING AHEAD:

Bye week.  We’re not looking any further than that.

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Filed under Big Ten, football, NCAA, Penn State

Weapons of UMass Destruction

On a bright, sunny fall day, Penn State unleashed its weapons of “U”mass destruction on the Minutemen, ending in a 48-7 decision that could have been worse if the back-ups hadn’t taken over in the third quarter.  Granted, this wasn’t Wisconsin, Alabama, or Oregon we were playing, but I think we got we expected.  The Lions Shock and Awe featured four runners, seven receivers, two quarterbacks, and James Franklin in a pear tree.  What’s to complain about?

The score could have been 66-0 without substitutions later in the game.   It would have been more fun to pitch a shut out.  The final score was still respectable and covered the point spread.  In my weekly foe pause, I begged the team not to struggle.  Didn’t look good for me in the first quarter, but the slow start was erased as the offense picked up steam.  Field goals became touchdowns.  No turn-overs by the blue and white, and the offensive line gained some confidence.  We won’t know until they face better defenses if this has any long term effect.  With the offensive line doing better, the run game did better.  The officiating crew threw no egregious flags or over looked any egregious penalties.  What more could you ask for?

Which begs the question . . .why was there only 99,155 fans?  You can’t blame it on the weather.  Unworthy opponent?  Some pundits thought this might be a trap game.  PSU has never played UMass before.  Granted, not as exciting as a game against Ohio State, but a team can’t compete at that level every week anyway.  The team needs a game like this now and then.  And Nebraska brought in 91,082 versus McNeese State!  Their capacity is listed at 87,000 on wikipedia with a record crowd of 91,585 against Miami this week.  Look at those numbers again–that’s a difference of 503 fans between McNeese State and Miami (FL)!  They apparently aren’t “competition snobs” out in Lincoln–they love their team no matter who they play!

Money a problem???  Even if you can’t afford season tickets, you could buy single game tickets.  It was a great game to bring the kids–warm weather, fairly family friendly atmosphere (compared to a night game against the Bucks), and a fun game to watch.  In fact I saw more kids and babies (one wearing big pink headphones to block out the crowd noise) at this game than any other I can recall.  Seriously, park your STEP and administrative protests at home and get your butt down to watch these kids play.  They may not be the greatest team in the country, but they are playing their hearts out.  Don’t make a statement to the BOT by eschewing this team–make a better statement by showing up and packing the stadium.  Let the BOT know that we fans are a force to be reckoned with!  Make James Franklin smile!

I still can’t get over how eerily this team parallels some of the good (and later in the year, I hope to change that to great, but there is still a lot of work to be done yet to earn that adjective) teams of the vintage Paterno era.  A 13-10 victory in primetime against Rutgers.  Winning on a late field goal against UCF as an underdog.  Mounting a comfortable halftime lead against an inferior opponent and then letting the back-ups have some fun and the second string D giving up a meaningless score in garbage time.  It’s like Joe has been re-incarnated–his spirit is all over and around this team.

So we came out of this game with no turn-overs, no significant injuries, and a back-up QB that looks like he can fill in if duty calls.  The O-line did better, but needs to keep improving.  This team has a legitimate chance to be undefeated when the Buckeyes come to visit in mid October.  They may even be favored to win the next two games.

BY THE NUMBERS:

 

Team Statistics
 Team Totals  UMASS  PSU 
FIRST DOWNS  13  23 
   Rushing  11 
   Passing  11 
   Penalty 
NET YARDS RUSHING  228 
   Rushing Attempts  28  45 
   Average Per Rush  0.1  5.1 
   Rushing Touchdowns 
   Yards Gained Rushing  59  247 
   Yards Lost Rushing  56  19 
NET YARDS PASSING  263  236 
   Completions-Attempts-Int  17-33-0  18-32-0 
   Average Per Attempt  8.0  7.4 
   Average Per Completion  15.5  13.1 
   Passing Touchdowns 
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS  266  464 
   Total offense plays  61  77 
   Average Gain Per Play  4.4  6.0 
Fumbles: Number-Lost  4-1  0-0 
Penalties: Number-Yards  4-30  6-52 
PUNTS-YARDS  5-191  3-122 
   Average Yards Per Punt  38.2  40.7 
   Net Yards Per Punt  36.8  40.3 
   Inside 20 
   50+ Yards 
   Touchbacks 
   Fair catch 
KICKOFFS-YARDS  2-130  9-576 
   Average Yards Per Kickoff  65.0  64.0 
   Net Yards Per Kickoff  40.0  39.6 
   Touchbacks 
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD  1-1-0  2-7-0 
   Average Per Return  1.0  3.5 
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD  1-20-0  1-25-0 
   Average Per Return  20.0  25.0 
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD  0-0-0  0-0-0 
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD  0-0-0  1-7-0 
Miscellaneous Yards 
Possession Time  22:28  37:32 
   1st Quarter  6:03  8:57 
   2nd Quarter  7:14  7:46 
   3rd Quarter  4:25  10:35 
   4th Quarter  4:46  10:14 
Third-Down Conversions  3 of 13  10 of 17 
Fourth-Down Conversions  1 of 4  1 of 1 
Red-Zone Scores-Chances  0-1  6-6 
   Touchdowns  0-1  5-6 
   Field goals  0-1  1-6 
Sacks By: Number-Yards  2-10  3-25 
PAT Kicks  1-1  6-6 
Field Goals  0-1  2-2 
Points off turnovers  14 

 

Penn State scored on EIGHT straight possessions after going three and out with a punt on the first possession of the game.

No turn-overs for PSU!

THREE YARDS total for Umass on the ground!  Shoop there it is!

INTANGIBLES:

UMass won the toss and deferred.

The drum major hit both flips–the first perhaps one of the best flips ever.

James Franklin is 4-0 and the first PSU coach to start his career 4-0 since 1915.

Attendance listed at 99,155.  WE CAN DO BETTER!

THE BIG (10) PICTURE:

Who’s Hot:

Indiana upset Missouri 31-27.

Nebraska out-slugs Miami 41-31.  Lots of off-setting penalties in that one.

Wisconsin rolled out the barrel all over Bowling Green, 68-17.

Maryland bested Syracuse 34-20, a bit of an upset with the Orange favored by 3.

Rutgers sank Navy 31-24.

Minnesota defeated San Jose State 24-7.

Illinois survived a scare and prevailed 42-35 over Texas State.

Iowa beat Pitt 24-20.

Purdue boiled Southern Illinois 35-13.

The Spartans crushed and spit out the remains of Eastern Michigan, 73-14.

Northwestern defeated Western Illinois 24-7.

Who’s Not:

Utah beat THEM 26-10 in a weather delayed game.  They are the only BIG team to lose this week.

Utah fans outnumber the wolverine fans in the Big House after a rain delay!

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  Clemson–loses in OT to #1 F$U after missed field goals and fumbles

2.  LSU–lost to Miss St. 34-29.

3.  Hokies–drop two in a row after beating the Buckeyes

4.  Cal–premature celebration but Arizona comes back on a Hail Mary

5.  K-State– wasted opportunities to beat Auburn

LOOKING AHEAD:

Northwestern invades Beaver Stadium for a 12 noon start next Saturday.  The Wildcats are coming off a 24-7 win over Western Illinois.  This week is HOMECOMING.

Northwestern opened the season with a 31-24 loss to Cal, and then followed that with a lackluster performance and a loss to Northern Illinois 23-15.

Well pause for a foe pause later this week.

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Knightmare Nova

Gary “turNova” threw five interceptions while the Penn State defense shut out the Scarlet Knights in the second half, to key a 13-10 win over our newest “rival.”  This game is probably the most hyped, yet unimportant game outside of these two programs, that I have seen in a while.  (The Ohio State-THEM game is the perennial over-hyped game which generally most other fans could care less about.)  But I digress.

Hackenberg passed for over 300 yards, setting a new school record of 7 games in his career of 300+ yards.  Despite a 10 to nothing deficit at the half, this Penn State team did not give up.  They may not have the best team.  They may not have the biggest stars.  We may not have the “best” coach.  But this team gives 110% of itself for a full 60 minutes of every game.

It would appear that Mr. Hackenberg operates best under pressure.  And I’m not talking about defensive pressure, because he saw a lot of that in the first half from the Scarlet Knights.  They were stunting, blitzing, and magically appearing in the backfield to help with the hand-off on nearly every down.  Credit Penn State with making second half adjustments that allowed Hack to have more time.

We still have an annoying problem.  No running game.  Yes, but that is not the annoying problem to which I allude.  We seem to amass large quantities of yardage–mostly through the air, but fail to convert said yardage into points on the scoreboard.  We are totally smashing the stats sheet (and the win column!!!!) but we can’t seem to light up the scoreboard.  Granted, at 3-0, it’s an annoyance.  But with BIGger prizes to play for now, it could become a real pain in the loss column later on.

We can nitt-pick all day about having Hackenberg punt (did not work) and running the wild cat with Hackenberg out as a receiver (which hasn’t worked).  Are we trying too hard to be gimmicky?  I don’t know.  I kind of like seeing new wrinkles.  And with a little better execution, these plays could catch some people by surprise (such as the toss back to Hack at wide receiver for a pass.)  Had we lost, well, then these things might be more important.  But for now, they are just more nuances that other defenses have to prepare for.

What was the deal with Witvoet’s mike?  They didn’t replace it at half time.  He looks like he’s a hundred years old.  Maybe that’s his natural voice!  And to his credit, he and his merry band of misfit zebras called a great game–perhaps the fairest game I have ever seen a Big Ten crew officiate.  Okay, the two holding penalties that called back big plays annoyed me, but I have to admit, they were correct calls.  Now, it’s not like holds like that always get called in our conference, but in the final analysis, they were correct calls.

I’ve seen various estimates of the Penn State crowd (8-10,000) and one poster went so far as to guesstimate 25%.  I think that’s a bit over the top, but it sounds like we were well represented.

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Sorry about that. WordPress won’t properly embed the video like Blogger.

I will also give the Scarlet Knight fans some credit.  They sold out their puny little stadium for this “rivalry.”  And the game noise sounded loud and might have contributed to one false start penalty.  I doubt Beaver Stadium would have been full had this game been played there on this weekend, but I could be wrong.  But when your highest sell-out is still around what the other team pulls in for a spring scrimmage, I wouldn’t spend so much time crowing about it.  That don’t impress me much!

I will also give the Scarlet Knight players kudos.  The emotion in the first half was unbelievable.  You actually played hard enough to win.  But in the end, emotion only carries you so far, and your best just wasn’t good enough.

Some reports have trickled in about bad experiences from RU fans.  These things will happen.  Late start.  Lotsa alcohol.  Every fan base has their black sheep.  People say things.  People throw bags of urine.  Whatever.  But at the very heart of the matter, I understand your pain.  You thought this was YOUR YEAR.  Penn State is perhaps at it’s worst because of the residual of the sanctions.  I saw this in the eyes of Temple fans two years ago when they came to Beaver Stadium in 2012 to face a struggling 1-2 Lion team led by new head coach Bill O’Brien.  You (the opposition) have one of your better teams.  It looks like the stars are aligning.  Then it blasts apart in a super-gary-nova of interceptions and blown opportunities.  And at the end of the knight, you are no closer to that Holy Grail than you ever were before.  Oh well.

BY THE NUMBERS:

From the GoPSUsports site:

 

 Team Totals  PSU  RU 
FIRST DOWNS  19  15 
   Rushing 
   Passing  13 
   Penalty 
NET YARDS RUSHING  64  102 
   Rushing Attempts  33  31 
   Average Per Rush  1.9  3.3 
   Rushing Touchdowns 
   Yards Gained Rushing  91  126 
   Yards Lost Rushing  27  24 
NET YARDS PASSING  309  192 
   Completions-Attempts-Int  25-44-1  15-31-5 
   Average Per Attempt  7.0  6.2 
   Average Per Completion  12.4  12.8 
   Passing Touchdowns 
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS  373  294 
   Total offense plays  77  62 
   Average Gain Per Play  4.8  4.7 
Fumbles: Number-Lost  1-0  1-0 
Penalties: Number-Yards  5-40  9-75 
PUNTS-YARDS  8-217  7-272 
   Average Yards Per Punt  27.1  38.9 
   Net Yards Per Punt  27.1  36.0 
   Inside 20 
   50+ Yards 
   Touchbacks 
   Fair catch 
KICKOFFS-YARDS  4-246  3-173 
   Average Yards Per Kickoff  61.5  57.7 
   Net Yards Per Kickoff  38.5  45.7 
   Touchbacks 
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD  1-0-0  0-0-0 
   Average Per Return  0.0  0.0 
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD  2-36-0  2-42-0 
   Average Per Return  18.0  21.0 
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD  5-3-0  1-26-0 
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD  0-0-0  0-0-0 
Miscellaneous Yards 
Possession Time  33:23  26:37 
   1st Quarter  9:17  5:43 
   2nd Quarter  5:37  9:23 
   3rd Quarter  9:28  5:32 
   4th Quarter  9:01  5:59 
Third-Down Conversions  9 of 20  5 of 14 
Fourth-Down Conversions  0 of 0  0 of 1 
Red-Zone Scores-Chances  3-4  2-2 
   Touchdowns  1-4  1-2 
   Field goals  2-4  1-2 
Sacks By: Number-Yards  3-19  5-17 
PAT Kicks  1-1  1-1 
Field Goals  2-3  1-1 
Points off turnovers 

 

Our third down conversions rate was about 50%, compared to about 33% for RU.  The turn-overs are, without a doubt the key.  Poor QB?  Better D?  I lean to the latter.  Rutgers fans might disagree.

Another interesting number–  1:13.  UCF scored their go-ahead touchdown with 1:13 left on the clock.  They ultimately lost.  Penn State scored leaving 1:13 on the clock.  Rutgers ultimately lost.  Nothing special happened in the Akron game at 1:13.  Penn State ran out the clock and ultimately won.
INTANGIBLES:

Rutgers won the toss and deferred.

Is that you, Octavius?

Rutgers filled their stadium–53,744.

Franklin is the first Penn State coach to go 3-0 in his first season since 1930.

Penn State leads the all-time rivalry 23-2.  PSU has never lost to Rutgers in New Jersey.

THE BIG (10) PICTURE:

THE LOSERS:

Purdue lost to Notre Dame 30-14.

Indiana lost to Bowling Green 45-42.

Maryland lost on a last second, 47 yard field goal to West-By-God-Virginia, 40-37.

Iowa lost their requisite non-com game to Iowa State 20-17.

Minnesota was horn-frogged by TCU, 30-7.

Washington embarrassed Illinois 44-19.  Not really that hard to shame them, though.

THE NON-LOSERS:

Urban Meyer made himself feel better by rolling up the score on Kent State, 66-0.  He overcompensated his teams weakness by taking advantage of a team with greater weaknesses!  Brilliant!

THEM beat Miami(OH) 34-10.

Nebraska bull-dozed the Fresno Bulldogs 55-19.

Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Michigan State were off this week.  I heard Northwestern still lost.  And oh look, Gary Nova just threw another interception!

2014-15 Football Standings

EAST DIVISION
Overall Conference Division
W-L % W-L % W-L %
Penn State 3-0 1.000 1-0 1.000 1-0 1.000
Maryland 2-1 .667 0-0 .000 0-0 .000
Michigan 2-1 .667 0-0 .000 0-0 .000
Ohio State 2-1 .667 0-0 .000 0-0 .000
Indiana 1-1 .500 0-0 .000 0-0 .000
Michigan State 1-1 .500 0-0 .000 0-0 .000
Rutgers 2-1 .667 0-1 .000 0-1 .000
WEST DIVISION
Overall Conference Division
W-L % W-L % W-L %
Nebraska 3-0 1.000 0-0 .000 0-0 .000
Illinois 2-1 .667 0-0 .000 0-0 .000
Iowa 2-1 .667 0-0 .000 0-0 .000
Minnesota 2-1 .667 0-0 .000 0-0 .000
Wisconsin 1-1 .500 0-0 .000 0-0 .000
Purdue 1-2 .333 0-0 .000 0-0 .000
Northwestern 0-2 .000 0-0 .000 0-0 .000

 

Through all games of September 13.

 

Penn State and Nebraska are the only undefeated teams in the conference!

 

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  Georgia–is there ever a more over-rated SEC team year in and year out?

2.  USC–lost to BC 37-31.

3.  Hokies–after beating the Buckeyes, they fall to unranked East Carolina 28-21.

4.  MD–last second loss on a long field goal.

5.  Texas–lost to UCLA 20-17.  They apparently screwed up the coin toss, giving UCLA opening possession in BOTH halves.

 

LOOKING AHEAD:

Penn State returns to Beaver Stadium next week to face the UMass Minutemen with a 4 PM kick-off.  Coverage will be the Big Ten Network (BTN.)

The Minutemen are 0-3 coming off a loss to Vanderbilt, who scored 14 in the final quarter to pull out the win.

The season to date:

L  30-7 vs. Boston College

L  41-38  vs.  Colorado

L  34-31 vs. Vanderbilt

Priorities:  WIN!  Work on the running game.  Some reps for the back-up QB.

GO STATE!  BEAT MINUTEMEN!

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Zip-Pity Doo Dah Day

Penn State civilly outscored Akron 21-3 to move to 2-0 on the 2014 season.  It was not a pretty sight, but it was not exactly an ugly win.  And it sure as heck beat a pretty loss!

The invading Zips seemed hell-bent on raining on James Franklin’s home opener, as the visitors marched down the field like a hot knife through butter.  They zipped this way and that way and ended up first and goal at the PSU 7 yard line before half the student population even made it to their seats.  But the Lion defense tightened up, and after consecutive sacks, Akron had to settle for a 3 point attempt.  Kicker Tom O’Leary (kind of ironic right there, doncha think?) missed the 31-yarder and the game was still even.

After an exchange of possessions, the Lions took over with good field position at their own 42 yard line.  Hackenberg went to work and did that thing he does with his arm.  Passes of 20 yards to Lewis and 15 yards to Hamilton were sandwiched around a one yard rush by Zwinak.  Hack than scored his first of three TD passes with a strike to a wide open Belton that fooled the Akron defense and reportedly Louis Freeh as well.

The half would end with the score still being 7-0, and the crowd a bit uneasy.  You hate close games like this when one play could turn things ugly in a hurry, and our secondary has been prone to giving up a few big plays now and then.

But there was no breathing room as the second half opened as Penn State fumbled on it’s first possession, setting the Roos up with a short field at the PSU 41 yard line.  The defense bent a little but didn’t break, and Robert Stein (I guess O’Leary lost his job, at least for the moment) booted the 28 yarder through to make it a four point game.

After a change of possessions, Hack hit Jesse James for a 14-3 point lead.  James would catch another pass in the fourth quarter to seal the victory at 21-3, covering the final game-time spread of 14.

So what can I say?

The running game just can’t seem to get off the ground.  It’s a reflex to blame it on the offensive line, but the O-line does seem to be able to pass block pretty darn well.  We did manage to break the century mark–which surprised me.  Watching the game, I’d have thought we had under 60.  We actually seemed to run better out of the wildcat, but that was in the second half and we may have worn the Akron line down by then.  Reading the message boards, the wildcat formation splits Nittany Nation between those that love it and those that hate it.  I don’t love it, but if it works, I’m all for it.  I wonder if the playbook doesn’t have more options from that formation, particularly with Hack split wide and still on the field.  We did see a throw back pass to Hack, but he couldn’t make the catch.  Maybe more exciting possibilities await when Big Ten teams come to play.

Hack had two more INTs–not necessarily bad throws as much as BAD decisions.  He also took a sack after having almost 9 seconds to find a receiver.  I think those things will come in time–better decision making.

And the bottom line here Lion fans . . . we have played two games against quality opponents.  Akron came to play and played us hard.  Maybe they are not McNeese State, but they will win some ball games this year.  Central Florida was coming off a great season with a veteran head coach and was a few votes away from cracking the Top 25 preseason.  And despite a minus 5 turn-over margin, WE ARE UNDEFEATED.  Not a lot of our conference brethren can say the same.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Team Statistics

 

 Team Totals  AKRON  PSU 
FIRST DOWNS  17  27 
   Rushing 
   Passing  12  16 
   Penalty 
NET YARDS RUSHING  69  106 
   Rushing Attempts  25  31 
   Average Per Rush  2.8  3.4 
   Rushing Touchdowns 
   Yards Gained Rushing  89  130 
   Yards Lost Rushing  20  24 
NET YARDS PASSING  208  319 
   Completions-Attempts-Int  24-46-0  22-37-2 
   Average Per Attempt  4.5  8.6 
   Average Per Completion  8.7  14.5 
   Passing Touchdowns 
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS  277  425 
   Total offense plays  71  68 
   Average Gain Per Play  3.9  6.2 
Fumbles: Number-Lost  0-0  1-1 
Penalties: Number-Yards  7-64  3-25 
PUNTS-YARDS  7-331  5-244 
   Average Yards Per Punt  47.3  48.8 
   Net Yards Per Punt  40.9  45.4 
   Inside 20 
   50+ Yards 
   Touchbacks 
   Fair catch 
KICKOFFS-YARDS  2-130  4-247 
   Average Yards Per Kickoff  65.0  61.8 
   Net Yards Per Kickoff  38.5  46.5 
   Touchbacks 
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD  3-17-0  1-5-0 
   Average Per Return  5.7  5.0 
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD  2-36-0  2-53-0 
   Average Per Return  18.0  26.5 
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD  2-52-0  0-0-0 
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD  0-0-0  0-0-0 
Miscellaneous Yards 
Possession Time  29:21  30:39 
   1st Quarter  9:15  5:45 
   2nd Quarter  9:32  5:28 
   3rd Quarter  4:10  10:50 
   4th Quarter  6:24  8:36 
Third-Down Conversions  5 of 17  4 of 10 
Fourth-Down Conversions  0 of 2  0 of 0 
Red-Zone Scores-Chances  1-3  1-3 
   Touchdowns  0-3  1-3 
   Field goals  1-3  0-3 
Sacks By: Number-Yards  1-8  4-14 
PAT Kicks  0-0  3-3 
Field Goals  1-2  0-0 
Points off turnovers 

Penn State continues to look better on the stat sheet than the scoreboard.  I really think that will get better as the season goes on, but perhaps it’s something to worry about.

Time of possession was nearly equal with a slight edge to PSU.  Akron held the ball longer in the first half, but PSU dominated the second.  Can’t complain about that.

We only converted 4-10 third downs, but we had 27 first downs–meaning that we moved the ball well on first and second downs that we only needed third down about a third of the time.

We were vastly improved in the penalty category this week.

INTANGIBLES:

The crowd was listed at 97,354, but it didn’t look that full.

The temperature was warm–not unusual for this time of year, but it could have been a factor if Akron could run the ball and control the clock.  Depth is not our strong suit right now.

The Blue Band Drum Major stuck both flips.  In fact, the opening flip may be the best I’ve seen in a while.  New feature twirler.  Meh.

James Franklin is 2-0, baby.  Penn State is 5-0 over Akron all-time.

The 1994 UNDEFEATED PSU Football was honored at halftime!

Penn State won the toss and deferred.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

Well, well, well.  Pretty rough weekend for the BIG party of 14.

Let’s start with the winners . . .

Iowa survived Ball State 17-13.

Nebraska squeaked by FCS McNeese State 31-24, scoring on a 58 yard catch and run to score with 20 seconds left in the game.  Makes a 21-3 outing against Zippy look pretty darn good right about now.

Illinois beat Western Kentucky 42-34 but trailed 27-21 going into the fourth quarter.

Minnesota held off Middle Tennessee State, prevailing 35-24–but they were up 28-0 at the half!

Maryland outscored South Florida 24-17, but trailed going into the fourth quarter as well.

Rutgers defeated Howard (who Akron pasted 41-0) by a score of 38-25.

And Wisconsin bounced back by pummeling Western Illinois 37-3.

And then there were the losers . . .

Purdue tanked against Central Michigan, losing 38-17.

MSU had arguably the toughest opponent in Oregon with the Ducks ranked 3rd at the time.  Michigan State trailed early, stormed back and seemed to be in control.  And then they collapsed.  Epic-ally.  Final Score:  46-27.  I wonder if D’Antonio has ever had that many points put up against one of his teams?

Notre Dame took THEM out to the woodshed, blanking the wolverines 31-0 in South Bend.  Not even a field goal.  I guess they were still upset about Notre Dame ending the series.  The Irish might want to rethink that.

And the Big’s Marquee Stud, Ohio $tate, ranked number 8, fell to an unranked Hokie team 35-21.  Meyer started his post game presser with this:

And also our opponent, really did a good job preparing for us and exposed us a little bit, where some of the weaknesses right now on our team. And it was rather obvious what it is.

Really?  What was IT?  The coaching, perhaps?  Or are you throwing someone else under a Colum-BUS.

I wouldn’t have said this in 2011, but I am SOOOO glad that man isn’t coaching at Penn State.

Indiana was off, and no one noticed.

SHEDDING TEARS:

1.  Stanford lost to USC–the famous Pat Haden game where the USC AD came down from the booth to “talk” to the referees.  And he’s on the selection committee!

2.  McNeese State–a few bad tackles away from OT.  Tsk.  tsk.

3.  The Big Ten–see above

4.  Texas–Longhorns beaten 41-7 by BYU

5.  UMass–41-38 loss to Colorado

LOOKING AHEAD:

Penn State travels to Rutgers to open the Big Ten season next week.

Game Time is 8 PM and the coverage is the Big Ten Network.

Rutgers is 2-0 with a 41-38 win on the road over Washington State and a 38-25 victory over Howard.

We’ll preview this game in a Foe Pause later this week.

GO STATE!  BEAT KNIGHTS!

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