November 27, 2019

Penn State is more than just fine

These guys beat Ohio State. But does
no one remember how bad Penn State
sucked the two seasons before that?
Not much went how I'd expected Saturday. There was not much there to believe Penn State would force the Buckeyes into a dogfight, but the Nittany Lions did just that. It was a hell of a performance for a team that was banged up, and eventually lost its starting quarterback during the game. Much more impressive than the offense--which I thought played a really good game against the most destructive defense in college football--was Penn State's defense never giving up, even after allowing some chunk yardage and 21 points before halftime. 

It was an inspired game, played by a Penn State team that apparently is as good as their record suggests. Is Penn State as good as Ohio State, Clemson, or LSU? No. Are they as good as a 10-(likely)win team in a Power Five conference that beat good teams along the way? Yes. That's something to hang your hat on. Fuck all those asshole fans chirping about how this team failed miserably this season and James Franklin isn't good enough to coach at Penn State. 

I've had it. Done. Penn State is a blue blood program, almost certainly winning 10 games for the third time in four seasons. They're headed back to a New Years Six bowl game. This team, under Franklin's direction, is wonderful shape. It's in better shape than it has been since the 1990s, and even then, it wasn't really even as good as we like to remember it being. If I recall correctly, Penn State was blown out by Ohio State and Michigan a few times in the 90s. 

Moral victories go only so far. I get it. But there are some years when performance on the field must be taken into consideration, win or loss. Penn State's two losses, both close, came against teams that are a combined 21-1. And you know the team that caused the "1"? Penn State beat that team on the road. 

There's no point in trying to argue the fact that Penn State is having a great, overachieving season. Stop being so angry. It's no fun. 

This week's pick: Penn State 52, Rutgers 3. Oh, by the way, I did predict last week Penn State would score 17

November 22, 2019


Yeah, like this... [sigh]
This just isn't the year Penn State will keep things all that close against Ohio State. Last week's prediction was a field goal away for each team. I hope my ever-shrinking optimism about Penn State's trip to the 'Shoe gives us a game that's not akin to a freight train hitting a Smart Car. Menet is out. Cain is only likely. And Hamler is possible. Combine those with a healthy Buckeyes team that's only growing stronger, and you've got this score...

The pick: Penn State 17, Ohio State 45

November 15, 2019

#9Windiana will have to wait another week

PSU looked like garbage against Indiana
a week after losing to Iowa.
Let me be clear, the score prediction from last week was for the alternate universe where Penn State didn't turn over the ball three times, because 38-21 seems awful close to what it might have been.... oh well, onward, State.

Penn State hasn't responded well the last few years to its first loss of the season. Even historically, pre-Franklin & pre-O'Brien, Penn State came out flat countless times after disappointment. I'm thinking of course of the 2008 game against Indiana. A week removed from it's devastating loss at Iowa, Penn State looked like crap against the Hoosiers.

I don't know if that'll happen this week. But what does happen will go a long way to proving if this program has the maturity and leadership to make the jump next year and beyond.

No analysis this week, just the pick: Penn State 31, Indiana 24.

November 8, 2019

Gopher it

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