Catchy title, eh? I didn’t want to strain my brain at this late hour. This is probably the latest game preview I’ve filed. There are no deadlines around here.
Here we have probably the least desirable major college football matchup that is still actually televised today. On a day on which Nebraska and Wisconsin square off in the same time slot as Florida vs. Alabama, 8 pm, we wouldn’t expect that any but the hardiest of die-hard Penn State and Indiana fans will be watching this thing. ESPN didn’t think so either, as the game is relegated to ESPNU, which is where you go when your game is too crappy to be broadcast on ESPN2. That’s how far down the totem pole we are today.
I cringe to think of the announcing crew we’ll get. Last week we had a babe who was not Pam Ward. She seemed better than Pam, who seems to be on beta-blockers, but she just didn’t do it for me.
On a TV watching desirability scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is another boring Obama speech and 10 is the latest “Game of the Century” this year, this one merits a 2. If your wife would like to take you shoe shopping at the mall during this time slot, you might have to think about that one for a while.
This has all the components of a frustrating game for Penn State (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten), as perennial Big Ten patsy Indiana (1-3, 0-0 Big Ten) hosts the Nittany Lions in Bloomington. It’s a noon start, which we’ve beaten to death here, but, furthermore, it’s a noon start on the road, which has long been a perilous scenario for the Lions. The coaching, which is notably anal in the friendly confines of Beaver Stadium, tightens up even more away from home, even against an awful team like the Hoosiers. The players might tend to look past this week’s patsy to next week’s perennial nemesis, Iowa. The spark plug for the defense, Michael Mauti, is out for the season with a torn ACL, and the offense is hampered by Joe Paterno’s quarterback tag team, not to mention an inept offensive line. The kicking game comes into play in close games, which this one shouldn’t be, but for all the aforementioned reasons, certainly could be. Typically, Penn State will let an opponent like Indiana hang around most of the game, then need a humungous effort in the second half to surmount them. That’s called dumb, and that’s cause by the conservative coaching coupled with other problems like receivers dropping passes. It would be a trap game were it not for last week’s victory over another cream puff for the Lions.
The Hoosiers will come out loaded for bear, given that their furious fourth quarter comeback against mighty North Texas of the Sun Belt Conference last week fell short by a field goal. The only problem is that they’ll be facing Lions this week, so the bear loads will be ineffectual. In the 24-21 loss to North Texas, IU gave up 427 yards to a balanced attack. Neither team showed much defense, with the Hoosiers’ predominately aerial game netting 404 yards. Indiana’s two quarterbacks attempted 52 passes in that game, completing 30, with two touchdowns and an interception, accounting for 354 of those 404 total yards. That leaves just 50 for the ground game. You’ve really gotta have a ground game to win in the Big Ten.
So, remember last week when this Turkey said that the Emus would eschew the pass based on their pattern thus far, but they came out throwing? Well, no dumb cluck this Turkey is. I learn by my mistakes, so I’m going to say that the Hoosiers will come out throwing. Try and fool me will they? I’ll show ’em. However, Indiana has some dangerous receivers, and Penn State’s secondary is not all that good, certainly not as good as the defense’s current #7 ranking against the pass implies. With D’Anton Lynn out this week, they’ll be struggling even more. Everyone knows how to beat the Sandusky Zone, and even EMU was effective to some extent against it. So, I do expect Indiana to complete some passes against them, some for sizable gains.
With the Lions on offense, look for a breakout day for Silas Redd. Even with an offensive line that sucks, Redd should do well against a defense that is ranked #95 against the run. The two-headed quarterback wearing the white jersey can feel confident in throwing the ball, too, as Indiana ranks #85 in pass efficiency defense and #117 in sacks. A balanced attack should work well in this game, especially if the receivers do their jobs and catch the damn ball!
The special teams are about evenly sucky. Penn State has a slight edge here because of its superior punter; however, if this game goes the way this Turkey thinks it will, there will be little cause for the Lions to punt.
The weather won’t be a factor, as the forecast is for perfect football weather: mostly sunny with a high of 60°.
I want to see Penn State jump out to an early lead and stay out of striking range the rest of the way. Will they do it that way? Nah, I doubt it. This is one of those “Yeah, we suck, but the opponent sucks worse” kind of games. Players never seem to be seriously upbeat about that kind, and especially with Mauti gone, spirit is going out the window. I cringe to think of what lackluster play will do to the Nittany Lions in November, if not sooner.
So, before I go back to bed, I’m going to favor you with the Official Turkey Poop Prediction come hell or high water. The crooks at gambling parlors favor the Lions by 14.5 points, with an over/under of 48. This game could get pretty pretty pretty wild with all that passing happening. After both teams stink up the first quarter, Indiana will jump out ahead by a touchdown, the Lions will wake up, and then hell’s fury will be unleashed. (Or not.) In a somewhat entertaining second half, the Lions catch up and then play see-saw for a while before beating the Hoosiers 35-21. This time, as usual, they fail to cover the spread, but you can take the “over.”
See y’all soon for a recap of the game, if I can stay awake through it.