October 2, 2010

Iowa smothers Penn State 24-3

Iowa made plays that Penn State didn't, or couldn't, in a 24-3 win for the Hawkeyes tonight in Kinnick Stadium.

The youth of Penn State's 2010 squad reared its ugly head for much of the game--in some cases eerily similarly to the Alabama loss three weeks ago. But that youth was hardly the only cause for the loss. Poor time management, timid play-calling, inopportune penalties, dropped passes, and more doomed the Nittany Lions in their Big Ten opener.

It all could be boiled down to three series on offense. I say offense, because let's face it, it was the offensive problems that really were to blame for this loss. The defense really stepped up after the first quarter, and kept Penn State in the game until Iowa's almost meaningless, though painful pick-six in the last two minutes to go up by the final margin.

Drive 1: Penn State drove down the field right before halftime, using a fantastic long pass from Bolden to Brett Brackett that put the Lions near the five yard line. As the offense sprinted down the field--with one timeout remaining--Joe Paterno and Mike McQueary were clearly seen on the ESPN broadcast calling frantically for a timeout. But the referees never looked back to the Penn State sideline, as Bolden spiked the ball, wasting three seconds. With only three seconds left, Penn State was forced to try for a field goal. Had Penn State scored a touchdown (which wasn't a sure thing), the Lions would have gotten the ball, and momentum, to start the second half...

Drive 2: Even more frustrating was that first drive of the third quarter. Penn State marched the ball right down to the Iowa one yard line, chewing up yardage and nearly eight minutes on the way. Yet on 4th and goal, Bolden ran a quarterback sweep, with what seemed like a clear shot to the end zone. But Bolden didn't cut back, instead continuing along the goal line, and into the arms of an Iowa defender. Penn State came up about one inch short of a touchdown. Even settling for a field goal before halftime, a touchdown here would have made it only 17-10 Iowa. That's a different ball game entirely.

Drive 3: The last drive wasn't so much a missed opportunity due to mistakes or mismanagement. Rather, this drive was Penn State's third-to-last, before Bolden's pick-six and Kevin Newsome's garbage-time drive to end the game. Penn State was moving the ball relatively well, but the drive ground to a halt near mid-field. With about five minutes left, down 14, Joe Paterno ordered a punt. No try for a conversion. No fake punt. Nothing. Penn State simply handed the ball, any remaining sliver of a chance to come back, and the last remnants of the Nittany Lions' team confidence, back to the Hawkeyes.

There will be much more doom and gloom swirling around the internets than we've seen in years. On Twitter tonight, there were calls for not only Joe Paterno to retire, but for Bolden to be benched. One could not even imagine the tempest that must have been howling on the premium message boards on Blue White Illustrated and Fight On State.

Nearly every pundit, from the main stream media to the blogosphere, this past summer predicted Penn State would surely lose the "Big Three" games to Alabama, Iowa, and Ohio State. So there should not have been much surprise when the first two came to fruition. (Beside, wasn't this supposed to be just a practice run for a monster season in 2011?) But as it is well known, none of that makes good news entertainment. Now that the Nittany Lions have lost the games everyone was predicting for the last eight months they would lose, the world is suddenly ending, Joe Must Go, and Bolden should ride the pine next week.

What if Penn State got the timeout before halftime, and scored a touchdown? What if in the third quarter Bolden just leaned toward the end zone or extended the ball on 4th and goal? What if... ah, never mind.

Penn State's loss to Iowa was frustrating, disappointing, and very uninspiring. For tonight, we'll just leave it at that. Tomorrow, however, will be time to move on.

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  1. Joe needs to look in the mirror and more importantly his staff. You had all spring, the summer and 5 games into the season and the offense still looks like crap. They still call plays like it's the 1980's and Dick Anderson is just horrible at coaching the offensive line. We recruit 4 and 5 star OL and now all a sudden they can't block?

  2. If you have a race car driver and only a horse you take the cowboy. It's considered that Bolden is a better passer and a better leader and if he had a decent OL I would say keep him as QB but he doesn't. I think that Newsome would have done better just because of his runnig ability. I would bench Bolden because of the OL not because of Bolden. Hey, life is tough and then you die.

  3. larry mackinder10/03/2010 11:33 AM

    I think it's 2010 and just maybe it's about time to open up the offence just alittle . psu has 3 good qbs , you think it may be time to use them . each one bring something different to the game . Bolden has a gun. Newsome has the legs and Mcgloin is a field general with nerves of steel . So way not use what we got . it just may give the ol a break instead of having the motor city flash taking 10 minutes to decide with he's going to do.