You know how this Turkey likes to gloat when he is right, so prepare for some reflexive horn blowing. I got this one right.
Penn State (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) put the big hurt on Division I-AA Eastern Illinois (4-2, 2-1 Ohio Valley Conference), 52-3, before an unenthusiastic, sleepy, noon-time Beaver Stadium crowd of 104,488.
It was over before it started, but the biggest element of suspense turned out to be just when in the hell Kevin Newsome would come in to replace Daryll Clark at quarterback. Joe Paterno was obviously obstinate about it, given that the Nittany Lions had a 38-0 lead at halftime and we yet hadn’t seen Newsome. Was the game’s outcome not in doubt at that point? However, after Joe proved whatever point he was trying to make by leaving Clark in there was moot after the first series in the third quarter, when Newsome finally got the ball. With the game never in doubt, even third stringer Matt McGloin got in there toward the end of the game.
The Lions rolled up 553 yards to the Panthers’ 206 and doubled up on hapless Eastern Illinois’ first down production.
Gloating point #2: Jeremy Boone appeared only once, but Penn State punters had only two opportunities. Sophomore Ryan Breen was called in for the other punt.
Daryll Clark had a fine day, spreading the ball around to eight different receivers and nine different running backs. Clark went 13-19 for 234 yards and three touchdowns. He had one ugly interception when he threw the ball on the way down to the turf. He should have taken the sack.
Newsome went 4-5 for 34 yards, but on two of his runs, he fumbled the ball. Fortunately, Penn State recovered on both occasions.
McGloin was 0-2.
Linebacker Navorro Bowman scored on a strange play by Panther Quarterback Jake Christensen, who fumbled the ball at the Penn State 9 yard-line as the first half wound down. He returned the ball 91 yards, and looked gassed at the end.
As expected, Sean Lee did not see action.
Special teams continue to be a cause of Turkeyesque concern. The return game is absent and punt/kickoff coverage is deficient. The cupcake games now over. Where are we going with special teams in disarray? Penn State had six punt returns for an average of 6.6 yards. Meanwhile, Eastern Illinois returned eight kickoffs for an average of 20.9 yards. Does everybody understand that this was an FCS Division team today? What happens when PSU faces Big Ten opponents? We’ll know soon!
The Turkey will be back later in the week with a look forward to Minnesota.