November 5, 2010

LBU Staff Predictions: Northwestern at Penn State (updated)

Will Joe get No. 400? We tell you RIGHT [WHOOSH] NOW [GONG!]...

Out of the tunnel
It's go time...


The optimist in me looks at the fact that Northwestern lost to Purdue (!!!!) and their best victory was against Indiana because the rest of their schedule is loathsome. The pessimist in me looks at the fact that they jumped out to a 17-0 lead against Sparty before losing a close game very late, so they can hang with just about anyone. If Penn State plays like they did last Saturday they will win, if they play like they did in just about every other game they will lose.

Northwestern has the 26th best passing attack and they are only giving up just over 20 points per game (34th in the country). They have the tools to beat Penn State if they don’t play well. Having said all that, I think the defensive line is starting to play better and the offensive line started to actually push some people around. Yeah, yeah I know it was against the worst defense in the Big Ten, but they gotta start somewhere right?

The wildcard is Joe’s 400th win; if you don’t think the players are thinking about getting that at home you take Paterno’s press conferences way to serious.

Penn State 30 – Northwestern 17


For the first time all season, the weather may actually become a factor in this game. There's a chance for snow(!) in the morning, with some rain possible throughout the day. Plus, it will be the coldest game of the year for both teams. So we'll see how that effects Northwestern's pass-oriented attack. Then there's the Joe Paterno thing. Yeah, you can bet everyone will be thinking/talking/stressing about it until around 7 p.m. tomorrow night.

Penn State has all the momentum on its side, on a two-game win streak coming off the massively critical night game win over Michigan last week. Northwestern is kind of floating along, having lost two of the last three, including 20-17 to Purdue. Yes, Purdue. But I'm not counting out Pat Fitgerald's boys. They will come in with a lot of excitement, and always play good fundamental football. With either Rob Bolden or Matt McGloin under center, an improved offensive line, and a re-energized Evan Royster, the offense should churn nicely. Northwestern has a decent offense, and a great quarterback, but it doesn't possess nearly the firepower the Wolverines and Denard Robinson brought to Beaver Stadium last week. Could feel closer than the final score.

Penn State 29 - Northwestern 20


Any Penn St. fan that sees Northwestern on the schedule and doesn't get a twinge of apprehension needs a history lesson as it almost always a tougher game than predicted. What pulls PSU out of the flames this year is the milestone, everyone wants that 400 as soon as possible and the intensity should demonstrate that, players and fans alike.

Persa will probably be impressive after a rough game last year in relief, but the defense should manage just enough to hold Northwestern and let Bolden find his groove with what appears to be a resurgent run game to help him. Royster finally has the record behind him and ran with a fire I hadn't yet seen from him this year. Also, look for a lot of chatter about how good Fitzgerald would look roaming the Penn St. sideline after Joe is gone, similar to conversations
during the Temple game.

Penn St 37 - Northwestern 24


Unless you've been living in an eco-village for the last week, you'll know that there are only two THREE* story lines the media wants you to care about:

1. This is Joe Paterno's first shot at victory #400
2. Northwestern QB/Pennsylvania native Dan Persa is making his first trip to Happy Valley since he was spurned by PSU during the recruiting process all those years ago. He's still pissed about that, not to mention the vengeful sentiments were only exacerbated when he was manhandled by PSU's defense a year ago in Evanston. He wants nothing more than to deliver a cold serving of revenge to the PSU program.
3. PSU is in danger of suffering a 'letdown' given last week's incredible performance against Michigan and may get caught looking ahead to next week's matchup with Ohio State.

I'm not sure about the rest of my fellow PSU fans, but Item #1 beats #'s 2 and 3 on that list. Had the Michigan win been JoePa's 400th, I would have been more inclined to predict a Northwestern upset. True, this PSU team is still mediocre, but they have done a complete 180 from that abortion of a performance against Illinois as far as playing with confidence is concerned. The offense appears to be clicking from an execution standpoint and to Galen and Jay's credit, they appeared to have opened up the playbook more. Let's hope they keep it opened for Rob Bolden, who will presumably be the starter. The defense is still a work in progress, but they did just enough to help stave off Michigan last weekend. Now that the linebackers are staying healthy, they appear to be more in sync with the rest of the defense. Now, if only that D-line can get more pressure on the QB, perhaps Northwestern's weak O-line might be the antidote for that.

Bottom line: Combine the recent improvements in performance with the fact that JoePa is vying for his 400th win at home, and I just don't see how PSU blows this one.

Penn State 34 - Northwestern 17

* Thanks, Barry (aka "Captain Hindsight").

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  1. Tim you say there are only 2 story lines then list 3. Which is it?



    N'TERN 20 PSU 13

  3. @Jeff - Ca-lassy! You can't possibly be a real Northwestern fan. Only intelligent folks like NW.

  4. The real question is when will Penn State unleash the arsehole dinger against Northwestern or their moms?

  5. Dave-this is a matchup of almost dead even teams...if the Lions are fired up for JoePa then Dan Persa will be even more determined to beat the team that snubbed him in recruiting...'Cats 27, Lions 26