The Penn State Nittany Lions (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) walked off the field Saturday with much more than the god-forsaken Land Grant Trophy. Having decimated the Michigan State Spartans (9-3, 6-2) by a score of 49-18, the Lions were awarded the Big Ten Conference Championship trophy and a whole shitload of roses. The win was Penn State’s 800th, a milestone only six collegiate programs have surpassed.
Penn State played out its game plan perfectly. Everyone knew that stopping Javon Ringer would be of paramount importance, and the boys handled that task unfailingly, holding him to 42 yards on 17 carries, thus forcing Brian Hoyer to throw the football. Hoyer wound up completing 25 of 40 attempts for 206 yards and two interceptions. His average completion was only 5.2 yards. The PSU pass defense did its job.
Daryll Clark has returned from la-la land. He showed no signs of the hesitancy, inaccuracy, and air-headedness that had been plaguing him for the past few games. He played the game of his life before the 109,000+ frozen fans, and brought home the roses, going 16-26 for 341 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions. How’s that for a career day?
In all, Penn State’s prolific offense racked up 557 yards, 419 of those through the air. That’s more passing production than ever heretofore was recorded for a Penn State game. Paterno pulled out all the stops, loosened up the reins, and whatever the hell other metaphors you want to plug in here.
The Nittany Lions took care of business, allaying all our pre-game fears. We worried that they would not stop Ringer. They stopped Ringer. We worried that selling out to stop Ringer would put them in jeopardy of not stopping the pass. They defended the pass well. We worried that Clark would continue his post-concussion ineptness. Clark responded with a career day.
Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press, the king of the sports metaphor, summed it up as follows:
And Saturday, Penn State, the Big Ten King, ran a clinic. It was embarrassing how easily the Lions stuffed Javon Ringer, MSU’s biggest star. And Paterno’s offensive linemen created such a perfect pocket around their quarterbacks, it could have been sewn by an Italian tailor.
This Turkey has to wonder what kind of coaching strategy Mark Dantonio was employing in the closing minutes of the game. With the game well out of reach and the clock winding down, going for two points, calling back-to-back timeouts, performing onside kicks—what the hell did he have in mind? Perhaps he thought Joe was running up the score, but, hell, the clean jerseys were in there long before then and, yeah, Devlin was passing, but Moo U’s defense isn’t worth a shit. So, I suppose the strategy was to retaliate with snottiness.
Before, during, and after the game, Joe Paterno did his best to reassure his fans and recruits that he would be back next year, in spite of facing imminent hip replacement surgery. Internet rumors had been flying around all week alluding to the notion that this would be Joe’s last game at Beaver Stadium. It well might, if an asteroid destroys Beaver Stadium next week. PSU President Graham Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley joined Paterno in the locker room after the game. Supposedly, details of Paterno’s future will be hammered out over the next couple of weeks with those two.
I don’t want to start any new rumors here, not that anybody listens to me or anything. However, I wonder whether Joe will return next year with a reduced role. After all, he has indicated that he would be on the sidelines, but he didn’t say he would be there as head coach. He expressed teary-eyed gratitude to all his supporters at the Friday pep rally, while not actually saying farewell. He continues to stress the importance of being able to tell high school recruits that he’ll be there for them. As Joe ages and is hampered by increasingly more of the physical manifestations of aging, the need for a transition plan becomes more urgent. Adding it all up, this Turkey believes this could indeed be Joe’s last season as head coach, but I think he’ll continue his association with the program. The following post-game quote further hints at that:
I’ll sit down some time … and say, “Hey, what do you think of this, what do you think of that, what are we going to do” and that kind of thing.
So when I talk to a high school kid, I can be honest with them. Right now, I have no plans to leave. We’ll see what happens.
Later Saturday evening, Oregon State beat Arizona to remain in the Rose Bowl mix. Many PSU fans seem to be repelled by the potential of a rematch with the Beavers, but this Turkey doesn’t share that opinion. Methinks it would be interesting to see if PSU could throttle them again the second time around. The Beavers are well coached and they have improved dramatically over the season. Let’s not get into the mode that Tennessee fans were in for the 1993 Citrus Bowl. All around the Citrus Bowl before the game, they could be heard bitching that Penn State was an unworthy opponent. After PSU had taken them apart 31-13, they were pretty damn quiet.
It would be cool to play USC again, but isn’t it enough just to be playing in “The Grandaddy of Them All?”
Also, please stop your whining about Penn State not being in the SSMNC game. Shitcan your neuroses and just enjoy the hell out of a good time in Pasadena. What the hell is this obsession with the so-called national championship, anyway? Even with a playoff, you’d never really know decisively who was the best of the best. We’ve repeatedly seen that on any given Saturday, the best can beat the rest and the rest can beat the best. Was Nebraska really better than Penn State in 1994? I don’t know. In Lincoln they’d say so. In State College they’d say no. WTF! It still comes down to boosterism and braggin’ rights. So, who cares? These are the type of people who would have been pissed off at Michael Phelps for bringing home one fewer gold medal than he was theoretically capable of winning.
No matter which opponent it is, everything is coming up roses for the Nittany Lions. They have the Land Grant Trophy, the Big Ten Championship (well, half of it, anyway), and a date in Pasadena. I’d say they did pretty damn well.