January 29, 2011

Penn State Hosts Wisconsin: Will The Futility Streak Finally Die?

Penn State's futility streak against Wisconsin can be
perfectly summed up in this photo.
So, the Fighting DeChellises were able to weather the storm and avoid a resume-destroying loss against Iowa, bumping their conference record back up to .500 (4-4), and starting up a plethora of message board topics regarding just how many Big Ten wins PSU needs to go dancing in March. In other words: People are suddenly starting to pay attention and become cautiously opitmistic again.

That's why it happens to be such perfect timing that Penn State is hosting a critical home game this Saturday against Wisconsin (4 PM ET, Big Ten Network)...the same Wisconsin team that Ed DeChellis has yet to snag a victory from. That's right boys and girls, Jerry Dunn was in the process of tanking the program into oblivion the last time PSU defeated the Badgers in 2003. Ed appeared to have finally ended the futility streak last year in Madison with his team holding a lead as high as 16 points in the second half. Alas, in true PSU fashion, they choked it away before eventually losing in overtime.

So, what gives PSU fans reasons to hope against hope? Talor Battle..but you already knew that. Moreso, the emergence of Jeff Brooks this year as a scoring, rebounding, shot-blocking machine that we all hoped he would've become much earlier has been critical in taking the pressure off Battle. Andrew Jones and DJ Jackson have also taken cues from Brooks and have stepped up their games as well. The senior quartet will need to pitch in one of the best performances of their careers in order to have a chance at pulling off a resume-boosting upset. It also would help if somebody off the bench could, you know, score some points...Cam Woodyard had all of the bench's 2 points against Iowa. That's just not going to cut it against Wisconsin.

The fact that Wisconsin plays a slower, more deliberate, style of game plays into PSU's hands to a certain degree: One common theme from each of the four Big Ten victories so far is that the opponent was held to under 65 points. Wisconsin will have fewer possessions as a result of their playing style, which means that if PSU can defend well enough, holding the Badgers under that magic number 65 is doable. At the same time, however, this will be a curse for PSU if they turn the ball over the way they did against Iowa (14 of them). Last year's debacle in Madison can be attributed to PSU's 18 turnovers compared to only five for Wisconsin. Needless to say, taking care of the ball will be another critical component of PSU's upset formula, amongst several other things (actual home-court advantage, a lucky bounce here or there, favorable reffing, etc.).

One quick programming note for our DC-area readers: Mike and I will both be at Carpool in Arlington to watch the game. Consider this a golden opportunity to meet the founding fathers of LBU in person and have a few beers, share a few laughs, and drop plenty of curse words at the TVs. And yes, ladies, we will also sign your boobs upon special request.

Another quick programming note for our State College readers: GO TO THE FUCKING GAME. Barring another snowstorm, you have no valid excuse for missing out on this one. It doesn't matter what you think of DeChellis or the coaching staff, the players have been busting their asses in Big Ten play and are keeping alive their NCAA Tournament dreams as a result. We want to see a Jordan Center without the black curtains covering the upper deck, for once.

Follow LBU on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe to Linebacker-U.com by Email


  1. Not a good feeling about today. But if I'm going out to specifically watch the game with a bunch of other PSU fans, I have to think that will count for something. So LET'S... GO... P-S-U!!!

  2. Well, yes, the futility streak did die today... and it... was... awesome!