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Terrapinned

Who would have thought the Nittany Lions, struggling to defeat the likes of Rutgers just a mere week ago (whilst Maryland did their very best to upset Ohio State, but I guess their best wasn’t good enough) would showcase their best offensive scoring game since defeating the Illini back on September 21st, en route to making turtle soup out of the terrapins 38-3?  A question mark?  Well, it was a question that started a long time ago in a paragraph far far away.  But it’s more rhetorical anyway.

The Citizen’s Bank button this week read:  NO FEAR HERE.  An obvious reference to Fear the Turtle!  I admit it.  I was afraid!

FearTurtle

I did not have a good feeling coming into this game, and truth be told, it’s the first game I thought sure we might lose.  Yes, I thought we had a chance to upset Michigan.  We should have beaten both MSU and OSU, and probably a host of other letter SU’s.  But I feared we were regressing, especially on offense.  And while the seniors always want to go out with a win on their home turf, we know that is not always possible.  Maryland doesn’t care about Trace.  But they do care about going to a bowl.  Or they should.  Maybe they don’t.  Either way, this loss not only continued the domination PSU has in this all-time series, but it effectively ended the terrapins season, not being bowl eligible with only 5 wins.

The only thing bad about the day was the weather, and truth be told it was not that bad for me at least.  My seats are conveniently located underneath the North end zone upper deck, so while the rain continued to precipitate at the outset of the game, I only suffered minor water damage getting from the parking lot to my seat.  And I thought the Wisconsin game felt colder.  But I’m no Joe Murgo.  I’m more Les Nessman.  Eye witness news.  I witness the news, or in this case the weather.  Have you actually lasted this long reading as I go on and on about the freaking weather?  Rhetorical.  Don’t bother to answer.  Move on to the next paragraph, please.

So we racked up 565 yards of total offense, 38 points, averaged 7.0 yards per carry rushing and kicked a field goal in a pear tree.  Tis the season.

Miles Sanders still managed to cough the ball up again, but it didn’t lead to points for Maryland, my Maryland.

Trace McSorley led his team on senior day as he should.  Eighteen other players ran out of the tunnel in Beaver Stadium for the last time as well.  They are deserving of our praise and thanks.  I was listening to a radio show on the way home from the game, wherein the radio personalities were discussing how in 2011, most of the college football world left Penn State for dead.  Many thought it would be at least a decade before Penn State was relevant again.  Yet, in 2016-2018, here we are.  Thank you seniors!

While this season may not have lived up to my hopes and expectations, a 9-3 season is nothing to sneeze at.  It’s hypoallergenic.  And a third consecutive 10 win season is now achievable as well.  That is a feat that Penn State has not replicated since the 1980-82 seasons.

We have only to wait as teams above us duke it out in Championship games–I’m guessing about half those teams lose–and the margins of those losses and which teams lose will likely determine which bowl game Penn State plays in.  Good gravy, was that a worthless observation or what?  Of course those games are going to impact where we go and who we play.  Why wouldn’t they?  Why point that out?  I apparently have a season quota of rhetorical questions, and I am behind on reaching that quota.

Perhaps I will return with a preview of our stellar bowl match-up when we actually know what that match-up might be.

I’m not even going to delve into the rumors of USC firing their coach and going after James Franklin.  Fake news!  Nothing to see here, folks.  Move on to the next site on the interwebs.

But I will leave you with this puzzle.

Is the Maryland Terrapin mascot a woman?

I ask this in all seriousness.  At one point, Testudo (the actual name of the terrapin turtle mascot) was heckling a couple Penn State players on the sideline.  But the more I watched, the more I was convinced that Testudo was liking what she saw.  Now I’m no more a herpetologist than I am a meteorologist–dammit Jim, I’m just a doctor!–but the way she walked and swung her arms–it appeared feminine.  I think it was a mating ritual!  I tried to Google the identity of the person beneath the shell, but I came up empty and with one PFA.  Who knew cyberstalking was illegal?  Rhetorical!

But I did come across an article that posits that the terrapin mascot is female.

The smaller size of Testudo’s tail, as well as Testudo’s more rounded carapace, support the conclusion that our terrapin is female.

And another thing: Testudo is a terrapin. Specifically, a diamondback terrapin, species name Malaclemys terrapin. Referring to Testudo as a turtle is too vague, too general, too all encompassing; there are over 300 species of turtles. The size of turtles varies a lot. Some are as small as a few inches. Other turtles are as large as several feet. Moreover, Terp is an abbreviation for terrapin, not for turtle. If we were to use turtle, its abbreviation would be turt — at least until the competition finds out and translates it to turd. When we meet alumni, we don’t identify ourselves as turtles — we identify ourselves as terrapins. Our battle cry should not be “Fear the turtle”; it should be “Fear the Terrapin.”

Fear the Turd!  Not!

And I have nothing to fear but fear myself.

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Notes ON WISCONSIN

Having graduated from Altoona High School back in the days when kids walked to school, up hill, both ways, in 3 feet of snow in ratty sneakers . . .what?  You had sneakers!  We went barefoot!  And we were thankful to have our feet!  But I digress, and I’m pretty sure I never finished that first sentence, so apparently my days spent in English class were apparently wasted–we used pencils!  Not computers!  And we researched with the Dewey Decimal System and a card catalog–NO GOOGLE!

Anyway, our school fight song was ON ALTOONA and the music was actually the Wisconsin fight song, ON WISCONSIN.  So there’s a certain nostalgia thing going on there.

Getting to the stadium was a challenge.  Thanks to ice and unfortunate accidents on I-99, the road past sky top from Altoona was impassable.

So I went off road down the hill, through the grass, to grandmother’s house we go.  I went back to Port Waltzing Matilda.  Surely I could get there from there.  After all, there’s only one traffic light in Port Matilda.  More nostalgia–I remember many Saturday’s sitting at that traffic light as 322 merged with old 220.  The Fire Company always had a chicken barbecue a block beyond that, if you dared pull off the road and lose your place in line.

But there’s a new traffic light in town.  TWO of them.  And the second is due to construction on a bridge which is now ONE LANE.

It took us half an hour just to get through the two lights.

The traffic on I-99, though, was still not moving.  So I came out ahead.

I got to my parking spot well before kick-off.  Unfortunately, the people who were buying four of my tickets (still in my possession) were . . . sitting on 99.  I gave them directions, and they waited through two traffic lights . . . with the end result that I missed most of the first quarter including the Badger’s only touchdown.  So I had that going for me.

The 22-10 game itself was far from a perfect masterpiece, but apparently the Badgers don’t have much this year.  Perhaps outside of Penn State, they are the biggest disappointment in the conference, and perhaps the nation.  The AP poll had the Badgers at #4 preseason (already in the play-off picture!)  My how the mighty have fallen!

While sportswriters and pundits have unfurled  the “back-on-track” and “good solid win”  banners, I was not so impressed.  We had a field goal blocked and another missed–worse yet we iced our own kicker as we still can’t manage the clock properly 10 games into the season.

And what in the wide, wide world of bloody sports was that play call late in the fourth quarter when all we had to do was run the clock out?  It was unnecessary trickeration, and we ended up fumbling the ball back to the Badgers with two and a half minutes left on the scoreboard.  We haven’t fared well with on-sides kicks this year, and I had no reason to believe we would do any better.

Thankfully, the Badgers suck, and couldn’t take advantage of our piss poor play-calling propensity (the four P’s.)

The victory did propel us nearly to the top of the three-loss teams–we’re behind Florida at #14 in the play-off rankings, behind Texas and Florida in the AP poll, and behind Texas but ahead of Florida in the coaches poll.

The Badger’s traveled well.  Lots of badgers prowling the parking lots that were open.

The tribute to Wally Tripplet, and the history behind the “WE ARE” cheer was emotional.

Penn State will travel to High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, NJ to face the Miss Scarlet Knights of Rutgers.  Last I saw, we were 24 point favorites.  I’m not expecting much of a fight from them, but they are a “rival.”  (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, say no more!)

Maybe I’ll do a wrap up.  Maybe not.  I’ll keep you in the suspenses on that one.

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Pitt Falls

Penn State defeated, trounced, destroyed and otherwise had their way with Pitt en route to a 51-6 final score that was, in fact, only 14-6 at the half.

Let’s get one thing out of the way . . . Pitt does not deserve to have this series continue past next year.  It is not Penn State’s duty or responsibility to support Pitt’s athletic department, particularly when their own fan base can’t support their team.  Even when Toledo defeated Penn State at Beaver Stadium in 2000,there were more Penn State fans in the stands at the end of that game than there were Pitt fans in the stadium at the end of the third quarter Saturday.  I assume their band was forced to stay.  Most everyone else abandoned ship.  And quickly.

It was raining.

Oh boo hoo.  The rain fell on the Penn State fans too.

I almost feel sorry for Pitt fans–especially actual graduates who like football.  The University paraded before us a montage of Nine National Football Championships (8 occurring 1937 or earlier, and one in 1976) and a few hall of famers (the youngest of which was Dan Marino.)  Is it coincidence that Pitt football has been irrelevant since they tore down Pitt Stadium and chose to become a basketball school, which strangely has not won an NCAA tournament?

And before you few Pitt fans start an argument, I know full well that Penn State has not had a recognized championship since 1986.  But Penn State has been ranked in the Top 5 many times, including failed championship runs in 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, and 2016.  PSU was ranked #2 before a ONE POINT LOSS to #6 Ohio State in 2017.  Penn State has been ranked every week in the AP poll since defeating Ohio State in 2016.  Pitt has ended up in the final AP ranking twice in 14 years (#15 in 2009 and #25 in 2004.)  I’m not going to waste any more time debating this issue.

Pitt gave up about midway through the third quarter.  Their fans followed suit.  I praised Appalachian state last week for their tenacity and dedication.  They gave us a game.  Pitt gave us a nauseating replay of their glory years in the Great Depression era.  Pitt-iful.  Were there potential Pitt recruits at that game?  How does Narduzzi spin this?  It’s hard to use smoke and mirrors when there is no smoke and your mirrors are broken.

You want to be a big time program?  You want to demand scheduling respect as a big time program?  Then how about acting like one?  How many big time programs–pick one any one, Alabama, Ohio State, USC, Clemson–would prohibit fans from parking and tailgating until three hours before a “rivalry” game?  Oh wait.  Those schools have their own stadiums.  They don’t depend on rentals or interfering with baseball games for a team that has no chance at the playoffs.

Where do you even begin?  How about at the top.  A fifteen yard penalty on the head coach.  Classy.  Multiple penalties.  Botched extra point.  Failed fourth down after eschewing a chip-shot field goal to potentially take the lead.   A bobbled and then blocked punt by the special teams.

And despite the lop-sided score, Penn State did not put on one of their best performances.  McSorley was a meager 14 of 30 for 145 yards.  His stats were plagued to some degree by dropped passes, and he did score one rushing TD.  The offense was hindered also by two fumbles by Ricky Slade.  But neither turnover led to Pitt points.

The Penn State defense gave up what seemed like an incredible amount of yardage in the first half (over 200 yards?) yet inexplicably held the panthers to a mere 6 points.  They shut Pitt out after their only score.  It was like some kind of magic show–things were not as they seemed.

Penn State continued another Franklin era tradition of making good adjustments at halftime, both offensively and defensively.

I’m over 50.  I grew up in the seventies and eighties when this was a rivalry.  But today, there is no compelling reason for Penn State to ever return to the ‘burgh again.  Especially if we might interfere with a Penguins exhibition game or an art exhibit at the Carnegie museum.

Despite the weather and the location, it was a fun night to be a Penn State fan.  Not because we defeated a worthy opponent, but because we defeated Pitt and their delusional coach 51-6 on the Steeler’s field, in their own city, before a national TV audience.

The rain came.  The evil was washed away like the wicked witch of the West(ern) PA.  Ding Dong the Pitt (and series with them) is dead.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Any estimates about how many PSU fans were there?  It looked like about 50%.  That number approached 100% by the time James Franklin challenged the second fumble.

Pitt had only 56 yards passing.  I guess we ain’t Albany.  That’s why we kept reminding them who we are . . we are PENN STATE!

PSU averaged 6.1 yards per play to Pitt’s 4.3.

PSU leads the series 52-43-4.

INTANGIBLES: 

Pitt won the coin toss but elected to receive.  Apparently that was botched as well as it appeared Narduzzi wanted to defer.

Miles Davis notched his first career 100+ yard rushing game.

Trace McSorley extended his streak of games throwing a touchdown to 30.

Nice 39-yard punt return by Thompkins.

Blue Band Drum Major stuck both flips on a wet field.  Can we recruit drum majors or what?!

Appalachian State, by the way, defeated Charlotte 45-9.

THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:

The Buckeyes rolled all over the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers, 52-3.  Rutgers Al is in the ICU.  Meyer knew nothing about it.

THEM rebounded over Western Michigan, 49-3.

However, in the Eastern part of the state, things were different.  EMU defeated Purdue 20-19.  Not to be outdone, Sparty was upsot by the ASU Sun Devils 16-13, giving up 13 points in the fourth quarter.  It was a bad day for the Big Ten versus devils, as Northwestern fell to the Duke Blue Devils 21-7.

The Gophers beat Fresno State 21-14.

Illinois beat Western Illinois 34-14.

Iowa beat Iowa State 13-3.

Indiana outlasted Virginia on a muddy field, 20-16.

And Nebraska fans should have prayed for more rain.  The Huskers lost to Colorado 33-28.

Maryland out-rolled Bowling Green 45-14.

And The Badgers beat New Mexico 45-14.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Kent State comes to Beaver Stadium next Saturday for a noon kick-off.  Hate the nooners.

The Golden Flashes lost a close one to Illinois,  31-24, but then had an amazing victory over Howard the Duck 54-14.

I expect the coaching staff to tone things down–conservative offense–limit showing plays on film and minimize injuries to key players.  Kent State appears to be ranked around #120.  Let’s face it, this should be a scrimmage, but don’t forget Appalachian State!

I expect a big win and lots of substitutions on offense and defense.

GO STATE!  BEAT FLASH!

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