A couple days late and more than a few dollars short . . .
Welcome to the Indiana recap.
Don’t yawn! That’s contagious. (yawwwwwn.) See what you started!
The sun broke through the clouds just in time for kick-off and what a kick off it was! Saquon Barkley added another highlight reel to his Heisman resumé as he returned the opening kick 98 yards to the house for a 7-0 lead with only 14 seconds missing on the clock.
Apparently, Indiana didn’t think the hole they had dug was deep enough, so on their next possession, they fumbled. Actually, Campbell forced the fumble for Penn State, recovered by Cabinda. I am in no way asserting that our defense didn’t make a great play. Some fumbles are due to offensive ineptitude; this one was a defensive coup. The end result was that the Loosiers, er, I mean the Hoosiers, were now down 14 points with just under four minutes gone in the game.
And while the Hoosier defense continued to play like they could actually win this thing, special teams came up with another highlight play as Nick Scott scooped and scored on a muffed punt by the lapless Loosiers. I mean Hapless Hoosiers.
Penn State would build and take a 28 point lead into the second quarter, fueled by yet another Indiana mistake–roughing the punter–and another highlight reel for the Heisman resumé (HRFTHR) by Saquon Barkley where he made a one-handed circus catch (one hand tied behind his back) and then juked and did that Saquon thing with his legs to take the ball deep into Indiana territory. Trace hooked up with Hamilton for the 28 point lead.
It was at this point, for a mere 15 minutes of fame, or enough time to save 15% with Geico, that the Indiana team decided to try and upset Penn State. They scored twice in the second quarter–their only 14 points in the game–keying on a big 54-yard reception, and then a late drive following a McSorley pick around mid field.
Indiana never really threatened in the second half, as our defense tightened. The tone was set on the Hoosiers opening possession (they deferred after winning the coin toss to the second half) when Amani Oruwariye intercepted the Hoosiers. Unfortunately, the drive stalled at the three yard line and chip shot field goal was sliced wide right.
Penn State did tack on 17 points in the closing half and covered the point spread easily despite miscues. Yet, this has left some Penn State fans fretting.
Is this really a #4 ranked team?
Is something wrong with McSorley?
Why isn’t the offensive line doing better?
Sometimes I have to recheck the record just to make sure we’re still 5-0, because to read some of these people’s comments, you’d think we were losing!
Let’s look at these concerns individually.
Do we “deserve” to be #4? No. I also don’t think Alabama “deserves” to be number one. The only time the ranking will be earned is the day after the championship game. At this point, some teams have beaten better teams than others. But constitutes a better team? Comparing Alabama’s schedule to date with Penn State’s, is Fresno State, Colorado State or Vanderbilt that much different than Indiana, Akron or Pitt? Yes, we played Georgia State. Check out Bama. They play Mercer. Have you even heard of Mercer? I’m too lazy to even Google that shit. Nobody cares!
Alabama beat #3 FSU. Are they number 3 now? Ranked? Will they ever be ranked this season? No one knows at this point.
Penn State has no more right to be fourth than any other team. The so-called experts ranked the Nittany Lions before the season in the top ten. They belong there. They have done nothing on the field to not deserve to stay there. If we are not worthy of our ranking, then that will play out as the season progresses.
And, just what is a number 4 ranked team supposed to look like? I guess maybe a fourth ranked team wouldn’t almost lose to Iowa (even though 4 previous “top 5” teams lost at Kinnick Stadium. Maybe a #4 team would have defeated Pitt 76-0. Pitt’s not a very good team this year, but last year, they were the ONLY team to beat Clemson, the ultimate National Title winner.
Do top ranked teams never make mistakes? Or, rather, are they able to overcome their mistakes? We’ve done that.
So should we be concerned about McSorley?
He is not having a great season, but if you remember from last year, he really didn’t get hot until after that awful September start. And is season isn’t that bad. He just led our team last week on a less than two minute drill 80 yards across a hostile field against a pretty decent defense. He’ll be fine. I’d like to see us roll him out of the pocket more. I really think he throws better on the run.
Is our offensive line a problem? Granted, Saquon isn’t burning up yards up the middle, but how many backs in this country are doing that with the defense keying to stop the run? McSorley has been sacked a good bit, but some of that is his own doing, holding onto the ball too long, or dancing out of the pocket too quickly. Give them time. This could be a problem; probably won’t.
I have spent years blogging about Penn State football (I started out in 1999 on a free site called Xoom. I’m still blogging today. Still on a free site, because the two or three faithful readers I have would pay to read this drivel.
Over the years, I have pulled my hair out at times after winning a game. Worrying about every turn over, and fumble, each sack or missed tackle. I have seen teams that lose to Appalachian State turn around and beat us. I have seen us beat the top ranked Buckeyes one week, and lose to an unranked Wolverine team the next.
We have the potential to be a great team. None of the problems folks are losing sleep over are unfixable. Contrast that to four years ago, when we kept hoping the team would get better as the season went on, but it didn’t due to sanctions, recruiting issues, and whatever. The team didn’t get better because it quite frankly couldn’t get better. We didn’t have the athletes. We are at a point now that we could only have dreamed about five years ago. We are probably watching a Heisman winner each week in Saquon Barkley. We are loaded with offensive weapons and defensive playmakers.
Sit back folks and enjoy this ride. There will be ups and downs, but we might just end up in Atlanta on January 8th!
Another argument across the sports world is whether Saquon is the best college football player ever? Can that even be determined? He certainly is one of the best playing right now. He can run, he can catch and he can block! And he even threw a touchdown pass last week! He is one of the most exicting players I have ever watched at Penn State.
The Neil Diamond Impersonator? You either loved it or hated it. I love Sweet Caroline, and I thought the guy did a heckuva job. Sheer genius!
The attendance was announced at 107, 542.
THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:
Nebraska cornhusked Illinois 28-6. Wisconsin dropped scat all over Northwestern 33-24. The Buckeyes blanked the Knights of New Jersey 56-0. (Rutgersal still thinks Rutgers has an outside shot at the National Championship, or at least a share of the Big Ten Title!) Maryland terped Minnesota 31-24. Michigan State edged Iowa 17-10.
And in other news, USC lost to Washington State 30-27.
The Lions travel to Northwestern for the dreaded 11:00 am start.
Penn State has lost the last two games versus the Mildcats. Franklin has not beaten Fitzgerald. Yet.
The Mildcats have lost to Wisconsin (no surprise there) and Duke (41-17). But the Dookies are 4-1 with only a loss to Miami to soil their record. Northwestern has token wins over Nevada and Bowling Green.
The betting line is 14 points, favoring the Lions.
I’m not big on predictions, but I’m going to go out on a limb here . . . I think we win. We cover the spread and then some.