I’ve tried to be cynical and I’ve waffled a lot about the forthcoming season but I can’t bring myself to posit that Penn State is overrated. Yet, Mr. Pac 10 of College Football News thinks so. Here’s what he has to say about State in his Overrated and Underrated blog:
Penn State also looks overrated, for a bunch of reasons. First of all, Paterno has already established the pattern of one great year followed by two lousy ones, which means that it’s time for a lousy season. Second, they lost a boatload of players, which is the same thing they do every time before dropping down severely. Third, they were a lousy team on the road last year. Sure, at home they were fantastic, but when your game away from the friendly confines is a three overtime stink fest against an FSU team that had no business being in the BCS, well, that’s a pretty good sign that things aren’t going to be so good. And this time around they’ve got brutal road games against Notre Dame and Ohio State, plus three other games (Minnesota, Purdue and Wisconsin) that will hardly be walks in the park. They’ve got four legitimately lousy teams on the schedule (Akron, 1-AA Youngstown, Illinois and Temple), and yet 8-4 would still be an achievement. How that makes a top 25 team in anyone’s eyes is completely beyond me.
The pattern crap is obviously a crock. Does he think that Paterno intentionally creates a pattern of one great year followed by two lousy years? This is kind of like the correlation between currently vogue widths of neckties and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, so I’m dismissing it out of hand.
Losing the boatload of players is a legitimate concern that you know this Turkey shares; however, it is reflected in our pre-season ranking. The loss of team leader and playmaker Michael Robinson will hurt as will the loss of the defensive backfield and most of the offensive line. Everybody knows that. Otherwise, we’d be ranked #3, where we left off last year.
Lousy team on the road last year? On the basis of what? A two-point loss to Michigan, the only road loss (or any other kind of loss)? The only other shaky performance was the Northwestern game, which was the pivotal game of the season, when the team got its balls. Pulling that one out showed the team that they could play at a high level. As for the three-overtime Orange Bowl stinkfest, well, it wasn’t a perfectly played game on either side, but it sure as hell wasn’t a stinkfest. In any case, if this guy hangs his hat on our losing lots of players on the one hand, and says that we were crappy on the road last year on the other, shouldn’t we be glad to get rid of the bums who made us so bad last year? That was facetious, but I get the feeling that Mr. Pac 10 didn’t watch a lot of Penn State games last year.
Without regard to last year, the Turkey thinks that it will be hard to wind up with a winning record on road games this year. Not impossible but difficult. Yes, I’m assuming that ND and Ohio State are losses, and that we’ll drop at least one to Minnesota, Purdue, and Wisconsin. Please feel free to come back at me later in the season and tell me that I was full of shit. Here’s hoping that you will!
No argument with Mr. Pac 10 on the legitimately lousy teams. They are legitimately lousy, but at the same time, we really do need to watch out for Akron. First games of the year against crappy opponents haven’t been handled extremely well in the new millennium. Take a look back and you’ll see the following scores:
PSU 23 USF 13 (2005)
PSU 23 Temple 13 (2003)
PSU 27 UCF 24 (2002)
Toledo 24 PSU 6 (2000)
This is different from the one good year/two crappy year pattern. It reflects chronic lack of readiness and poor motivation at the beginning of the season. The only outstanding initial effort against a crappy team in this decade was coincidentally against Akron, two years ago. I called it a laugher, and it was. Even Zack Mills looked good. I hope our opener with Akron has a similar result this year, but there is some danger in looking past the game to Notre Dame the following week. The coaching staff and team leaders will have their hands full keeping guys in the game. But I digress.
Our pre-season ranking in the high teens or low twenties represents neither an over- or under-rating. In this Turkey’s opinion, it is pretty solid.
Just for laughs, I’ll show you what Mr. Pac 10 had to say about Notre Dame:
Closer to the top, Notre Dame really doesn’t look like a legitimate top 5 team. Charlie Weis did a great job with Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija, but the rest of the team was overall no better than it was under Willingham, and maybe even a little bit worse. Sure, they return a bunch of guys on defense, so you can expect an improvement, but I really don’t buy this defense as being at all strong, and the secondary still looks like a disaster. Unless Weis can find a couple of new guys to have major breakout seasons, this just doesn’t look like a much better team than last year’s version. Moreover, their schedule should be tougher than last year, both because they add good teams in Georgia Tech, Penn State, UCLA and UNC, and also because many of the teams that they played last year look to be better. Michigan should certainly be improved, and will have a great shot at beating them as long as Mike Hart doesn’t get hurt again. USC might take a step back, but it probably won’t be a big one. And both Purdue and Stanford should be better as well. In other words, this is a borderline top 10 team, with as much of a chance of dipping back down as they have of rising up and being a legitimate national title contender.
On a totally vacuous and superfluous note, doesn’t Charlie Weis look like Homer Simpson might look 40 years from now?
What teams does Mr. Pac 10 think are underrated? I’ll give you a sample here—with which I happen to agree—but you ought to read his article for the complete rundown:
And what about Iowa? Does it take just one down year to deflate expectations about this team so much? They return a bunch of talent throughout their roster, and they have only one tough road game. Don’t forget, in the last four seasons, they’ve only lost twice at Kinnick, which means heavily hyped Ohio State is probably in for a really rough battle on September 30th. This is definitely a top 15 team, and they probably ought to start out around #12 or so. And letâ€™s face it, with just about everyone above them facing serious issues, don’t be at all surprised if they make some serious noise this year.