On this crappy, rainy Saturday in Beaver Stadium, the mighty Penn State Nittany Lions (3-1) laid to waste the wet, Archerless Golden Flashes of Kent State (1-3) by a score worthy of the best offense and the second best defense in the B1G, 34-0. Alas, the true best offense in the B1G was busy beating FAMU 76-0 with its second and third team, but I digress.
What happened in this game doesn’t prove much — PSU was expected to win big and it did — but it did manage to highlight some potential strengths and weaknesses. I’ll Phil Grosz it, with numbered paragraphs.
- Christian Hackenberg is human and had an off day. Sanguinarians with blinders on will blame that on the rain, but c’mon! He was forcing throws and making just plain bad ones, winding up with a lackluster 13-35 for 176 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. He also did one of his lovely inadvertent Statue of Liberty plays. Fortunately, Penn State got to keep the ball this time.
- The defense did its job this week, albeit against a struggling offense. Nevertheless, this was an offense that scored 13 points against LSU, also without their star. Limiting the Flashers to 190 yards, 56 of which were on the ground, is a trend that we must hope continues into the B1G season. Mike Hull sat out this game, which portends well for a complete recovery before the B1G play begins, with a bye week forthcoming. The pass rush was actually able to put some pressure on young Colin Reardon. Congratulations to the Big D on the shutout, the first since the last time they shut out the Flashers back in the St. Joe Era, 2010. (A shutout that was not an official win, thanks to slimy Mark Emmert, but I digress.)
- The Flashers have yet to beat a B1G opponent and are 0-4 against PSU.
- Ahhhh, the re-emergence of the rushing game was satisfying, although we had to wait until the second half to see it! O’Brien was probably a little too intent on using the passing attack to get the rout going in the first half. That obviously didn’t work (see ¶1). The halftime adjustment to Hackenberg’s off day was obvious: run the damn ball down their throats. Speedster Akeel Lynch finally showed some game, and so did Bill Belton. In this game, Zach Zwinak (15-65) enjoyed a little respite while watching Lynch (14-123) and Belton (13-90) set him up to score three TDs. The offensive line did its job. But remember, this was Kent State.
- Sam Ficken. Can you believe it??!?! Another perfect day, including a career long 54-yarder that might well have been good from 60. In da freakin’ rain!
- Alex Butterworth is a great holder. But maybe O’Brien should let Hackenberg handle the punting.
- Kent State got called for some phantom penalties. Maybe the officials are finally listening to K.John.
- The third down situation is improving, but still sucks. I mean 7-18? Against Kent State’s defense? Lousy coaching and lousy execution for the number one offense in the B1G, I’d say.
- The B1G continues to suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. Hey, Michigan!?!?! You gonna wake up over there? Last week, a near loss to Akron; this week, if UConn hadn’t shot itself in the foot in that final drive, the Wolverines would have gone down in flames. #18 Northwestern needed a couple of defensive scores to beat Maine. Moo U had the cow colic — although the best defense in the B1G held ND to 220 yards, they were unable to generate enough offense to overcome 17 point scored by the Irish. They were too busy shooting themselves in the foot with 10 penalties for 115 yards (of course, we all know that officiating always favors Notre Dame, don’t we?). Our next opponent, IU, lost to Mizzou — even though they amassed 475 total yards, Missouri had 623. (The PSU-Indiana game might just turn out to be an entertaining slugfest, which has many of the same letters as Sudfeld). On the bright side for the B1G, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska won convincingly. Wisconsin demolished Purdue, and I can’t find the right verb without resorting to scatology to describe what tOSU did to FAMU in a 76-0 win with clean jerseys on the field much of the game.
And so, how did this Turkey do? Well, BigAl was right about the rain keeping the score down, only I don’t think it was as much the rain as Hackenberg’s rookie mistakes and O’Brien’s misplaced confidence in Hacky getting the job done on third down. Soooo, the prognostication won straight up and against the spread, but took a dive on the over/under. I shoulda listened to BigAl.
Let’s keep this win in perspective by continuing to remind ourselves that this was not OSU, Wisconsin, Michigan, or even Indiana the Lions manhandled — it was the Flashless Flashers, missing their Dri Archer. This is not the time for the boys to be sitting on their haunches basking in the glory of a magnificent shutout, such as it was. They clearly have more work to do, but they’re getting there, slowly but surely.
Looking down the road, after watching Michigan suck the big one two weeks in a row, I might be thinking about predicting a Homecoming win, but I need to see more from both teams before I’ll pull the trigger on that one. I can’t get too euphoric about the defense until watching it perform against the Hoosiers.
With a bye week upon us, I’ll try to post something here and there before getting down to writing my thoughts and predictions for the Indiana game. For now, Happy Autumnal Equinox!