October 17, 2019

You thought last week was important?

Penn State could embarrass Michigan
under the lights... again.
Ok, it really was important. The win at Iowa, the first for a Franklin-coached Penn State team over a ranked opponent on the road, was a big hurdle for the program and its prospects the rest of the season. But if this season were a 110-meter hurdle race, there's still about 70 meters to go, and the rest of the hurdles just get bigger and bigger.

For the second week in a row, I came close on the score prediction. I expected Penn State to put more points on the board. Should have known better.

Moving on to this Saturday night. I won't be there. The pain is real, but I've had to miss big games in the past. Nothing will compare to missing the 2016 Ohio State game. I debated going right up until it was too late to go. Never forgive myself for that one.

All signs point to Penn State over Michigan... big. The trip to Kinnick prepared this very young Penn State team for a dogfight, for which I think they're ready. Michigan looks fragile. The Wolverines got past Iowa, in the Big House, by scoring 10 in the first quarter and riding it out. That will definitely not fly in Beaver Stadium.

As Michigan has struggled all season to find its identity and rhythm, Penn State is now approaching cruising speed. The Nittany Lions were able to overcome a very slow start last week, so anything short of that this week bodes well for the home team. Sean Clifford won't have the same anxiety that showed at Iowa. With Noah Cain emerging as a ball-control beast, the formula seems right for a dominant win. Minimize the turnovers and penalties, and this one could get out of hand quickly.

I just can't imagine Penn State losing this game, at home, in front of a White Out crowd, with GameDay in town, and millions more on TV. The pick: Penn State 45, Michigan 17.

October 10, 2019

Win and get out of Kinnick

No more cheat codes for Penn State against Iowa.
Will it be a big win, or another cardiac episode under the lights of Kinnick Stadium? Predictions almost never come true when Penn State plays Iowa, so I'm just going with a nice comfy blowout. Everything on paper says Penn State should have little issue handling an anemic Iowa offense while having enough firepower to overcome a good Iowa defense. On paper.

Two years ago, on paper, Penn State was in a similar position, with the best two players in recent memory on offense. The Nittany Lions scored 15 points until the last play. And that's what will determine this week's game: Can Penn State score often and force Iowa to do the same? I think so.

If Penn State scores less than 28 points, I can't imagine this being a smooth ride. What I fear most is that PSU jumps out to a big lead like they did last week vs Purdue (which I actually came close on the score prediction!), then get shut down the rest of the way. Iowa lives for those moments. The Hawkeyes let you feel good about how things are going, then slowly, methodically carve your heart out with a spoon.

For all the talk about how Penn State hasn't played anybody yet, here's the chance to show what this team is capable of. Beating bad or mediocre teams by respectable margins is what a good team does, but it could end up just being a paper tiger when it plays a night game in Kinnick.

The pick: Penn State 29, Iowa 13