November 8, 2019

Gopher it

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I've never shot a PSU-Minny game.
I give you this instead.
Penn State is 8-0. I'm unable to recall a single season prediction that called for an 8-0 start that also didn't denote it was overly optimistic. Usually I'm the one inflating Penn State's chances for a great year, but this year I couldn't see better than 9-3. And now, the second week of November, 9-3 is literally the worst they can finish in the regular season. That's borderline insane. 

The win over Michigan State wasn't very pretty after halftime, but it didn't need to be. The only reason to come way from the game a little annoyed is that Penn State didn't smash the ball and run down the clock faster to get it over with. Beating MSU like that was cathartic no matter how it looked to the average viewer. Hell, the average viewer probably never saw a snap of the second half. Only those of us who will never forget the last two seasons watched it to the end. 

But now, two weeks later, Penn State is seemingly healthy and ready to go to Minneapolis where the Nittany Lions will face the undefeated... yes, undefeated... Minnesota Golden Gophers. Penn State's next three opponents are 23-2, two ranked in the top 15, the other just outside the top 25. If the Nittany Lions are going to take this season from unexpectedly good to magically great, it'll start this weekend against the Gophers. 

Minnesota is a tricky opponent to scout, due to the lack of quality wins so far. The offensive is good at what they do--think Glenn Mason style run game--and the defense is about equal. But you want to know a spot where Penn State could turn this game from a close slugfest into a comfy win? Special teams. Minnesota is not good in the all-too-important third phase of the game. Penn State, on the other hand, is very good. KJ Hamler has been a few holding calls away from two kick return touchdowns. This might be the week he finally has one count. 

The pick: Penn State 38, Minnesota 21

October 24, 2019

Sparty No

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...as in, no, I won't talk about this game until it's over.

As for the Michigan win, I'm probably happier with the performance than many fans. During the game it was stressful as fuck, especially when Michigan answered Penn State's fourth touchdown. That was when I thought "it's happening again." But it didn't.

Penn State finished a game after jumping out to a big lead and watching it melt away. Was Ronnie Bell's drop the difference between winning and losing? Sure, mostly. If Penn State doesn't run up a 21-0 margin, the Nittany Lions probably lose that game, as Michigan had great adjustments that would've been able to overcome a two score deficit.

For the second week in a row, against a ranked opponent, Penn State didn't turn the ball over. That's crazy. Such a young team would surely lose a fumble somewhere, even in garbage time. Sean Clifford even threw a pick against Maryland. The idea that Michigan outgaining Penn State is "Fire Ricky, Fire Pry" bad is ridiculous.

Winning by any method is how a team wins championships. It's purely anecdotal, but Miami outgained Penn State 445-162 in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, including a 93 plays by the Canes to just 59 for PSU. Just saying... win the game, doesn't matter how. Penn State did that against Michigan. Just shut up and enjoy 7-0.

I'm still not going to talk about the Michigan State game. But I will make my pick: Penn State 23, Sparty 20. I honestly have no fucking clue what's going to happen.