Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
The Ohio State game always seems to be the high point of the season, regardless of how the combatants are doing at the time. This year, the unranked Penn State Nittany Lions (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) travel to Ohio Stadium to take on the #1 Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0) in a “blacked-out” Horseshoe.
The so-called Black-Out is an opposite take on Penn State’s famous White Outs. Wise guys! The Buckeyes will be debuting all new black uniforms for the occasion.
Here in The Cave, we’ll be celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Artificially Sweetened, who wasn’t quite around for the great upset over Ohio State back in 1964.
Ohio State has struggled defensively in its past two outings, narrowly escaping Indiana with a final score of 34-27 and playing a close first half against Maryland before winning 49-28. Their previous wins were against Virginia Tech, Hawaii, Northern Illinois, and Western Michigan. Meanwhile, the inconsistent Nittany Lions broke out of their offensive doldrums momentarily to blow out Indiana 29-7 last week.
With Penn State ranked 10th in total defense and 11th in scoring defense, it will be interesting to see how Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer chooses to employ his two-headed quarterback system, which is reminiscent of his Tim Tebow days at the University of Florida. Junior quarterback Cardale “We Ain’t Come to Play School” Jones (a pocket passer) has been the primary quarterback, with sophomore J. T. Barrett (who is a dangerous runner) taking over as the Buckeyes approach the goal line. Last year’s original starting quarterback, senior Braxton Miller, is now a wide receiver.
Jones is 84-134 for 1158 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions this year, while Barrett is 23-40 with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Meyer says the two-headed quarterback is not a permanent fixture, but he’ll be playing with it for a while.
Last week, Meyer let Barrett take over for Jones, whereupon he led the Buckeyes to five touchdowns, of which three were run in by Barrett himself. Barrett can also throw, so the defensive secondary cannot over-commit to the run threat.
Ohio State’s quarterbacks are facing a nation leading Penn State pass rush with 25 sacks, which is also in the top 10 in tackles-for-loss. As the Buckeyes passing game is not up to last year’s level, this could get interesting.
Meanwhile, the Buckeyes’ rushing attack is led by junior Ezekiel Elliott, a punishing, 6-1″ 225 lb tank. He’s carried 121 times for 835 yards thus far, with a long run of 80 yards and he’s scored 10 touchdowns. Ohio State’s rushing offense is ranked 17th nationally, against a Penn State rushing defense that ranks 26th. (Yeah, they’ve given up some big plays this year.) Zeke also is a threat catching passes out of the backfield. He’s 16 for 16 this year. You can be certain that Elliott will be attempting to extend his streak of 11 straight games with 100 yards or more; you can be equally certain that the vaunted Penn State D will be attempting to end that streak.
Penn State’s anemic offense, now ranked 103rd, will have trouble with the Ohio State 19th-ranked defense. Although solid against the pass, Ohio State would seem to be susceptible to the run, ranking 56th in that category. Maryland was able to ring up 253 yards rushing against them, including 170 by junior Pittsburgher Perry Hills, who also broke one for 75 yards and a touchdown.
On special teams, both schools seem to have their problems, but Penn State head coach James Franklin expressed support for Joey “Big Toe” Julius after his two missed extra points last week.
Who gonna play?
Saquon Barkley probably will not play, but James Franklin says it’s not his call, deferring to the medical people. Having left the San Diego State game with an ankle injury and not having played since then, Barkley nevertheless leads the Lions with 386 rushing yards, averaging almost nine yards per carry.
Akeel Lynch, the number two running back, probably won’t be playing, either, as he nurses a knee injury.
Traffic Cone Center Angelo Mangiro might be healthy for this game. Second-stringer Wendy Laurent did a halfway decent job in the Indiana game and is listed as first-string this week.
No sign of Adam Brenemann on the depth chart yet again.
Not a good look?
Apparently, all is well between freshman speedster Mark Allen and running backs coach Charles Huff after that dust-up on the sidelines last week following Allen coughing up the ball. What the hell is it with the ever politically correct media proclaiming “not a good look”? What the hell does “not a good look” mean, anyway? I’ve seen it expressed that way in a variety of publications. I say it’s a refreshing look at a real coach treating an insolent player as he deserved to be treated. Mouthing off to a coach, especially when a player fucks up, must never be tolerated. If it takes a little shove to get the point across, then fine. I tell you, I can’t handle much more of this political correctness bullshit!
Alumnus of the Week — Jesse Owens
This week, we celebrate the achievements of the superb Olympic athlete Jesse Owens (1913-1980), who was known as the “Buckeye Bullet.” He won a record eight individual NCAA championships, four each in 1935 and 1936.
In the era of segregation, Owens had to live off-campus with other black athletes. When he traveled with the team, he had to dine at “black-only” restaurants and stay at “black-only” hotels.
His greatest achievement came in a span of 45 minutes on May 25, 1935, during the Big Ten track meet at Ann Arbor, where he set three world records and tied a fourth. He also equaled the world record for the 100 yard dash and set world records in the long jump, 220-yard sprint, and low hurdles.
In 1936, Owens arrived in Berlin to compete for the United States at the Summer Olympics to a throng of fans, many of them young girls, yelling “Wo ist Jesse? Wo ist Jesse?” (Where is Jesse? Where is Jesse?) Many of them had come with scissors and had begun snipping at Owens’clothing, forcing him to retreat back onto the train. After that, when Owens left the athletes’ village, he usually had to go with some soldiers to protect him. In contrast, Adolf Hitler was using the games to show the world a resurgent Nazi Germany. He and other government officials had high hopes that German athletes would dominate the games with victories. Meanwhile, Nazi propaganda promoted concepts of “Aryan racial superiority” and depicted ethnic Africans as inferior. Owens countered this by winning four gold medals.
Albert Speer wrote that Hitler “was highly annoyed by the series of triumphs by the marvelous colored American runner, Jesse Owens. People whose antecedents came from the jungle were primitive, Hitler said with a shrug; their physiques were stronger than those of civilized whites and hence should be excluded from future games.” Asshole!
Owens, who joined the Republican Party after returning from Europe, was paid to campaign for black votes for the Republican presidential nominee Alf Landon in the 1936 presidential election. Owens later remarked while on the stump for Landon, that “Hitler didn’t snub me – it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send me a telegram.”
Owens was quoted saying the secret behind his success was “I let my feet spend as little time on the ground as possible. From the air, fast down, and from the ground, fast up.”
Owens, a pack-a-day cigarette smoker for 35 years, had been hospitalized with an extremely aggressive and drug-resistant type of lung cancer on and off beginning in December 1979. He died of the disease at age 66 in Tucson, Arizona, on March 31, 1980, with his wife and other family members at his bedside. He is buried in Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago.
Fall has arrived in Columbus, so look for a crisp day on Saturday. The present forecast is for a high of 51°F and a low of 29°F with a freeze. By kickoff time, expect the temps to be in the low 40s, with a dip into the 30s by the end of the game. Winds will die down to about 4 mph with gusts to 10. This is football weather, so both teams should enjoy the cooler air for a change.
Official Turkey Poop Prediction
Oy vey, there are a lot of conjectures floating around about possible upsets, already, notably from Ohio State homey Mark May. Don’t pay any attention to them, because 1) the game is in Ohio Stadium, 2) last year’s comeback almost-win was last year, 3) Urbz ain’t going to be caught unaware two weeks/years in a row. and 4) they ain’t seriously believing their own crap — they’re just writing it to get you to read their rags. You can be sure Meyer will want to massage the egos of the home fans in this one. After all, he was named after a Pope. Even if the Buckeyes screw up in the first half, they have the juice to come back and kick some ass in the second half, as they did with Maryland. Last year, Penn State was a mere boil on the heel of Ohio State’s march to the national championship; this year they must avenge last year and make a statement that they won’t countenance nonsense from underdogs. Not in their house.
Furthermore, Urban Meyer has shown that he cares more about fixing problems in the early season going than he does about what is on the scoreboard. With last year as an example, Ohio State peaked at just the right time to run the table in the playoffs.
The absence of a Penn State running game against the seemingly weak point in the OSU defense tells a big story, unless Franklin is playing it coy about Saquon Barkley. This turkey feels that Barkley’s running is the only thing that could give the Nittany Lions a chance — but only if he’s 100% healthy. If he’s not, he best continue to recuperate.
I saved the mention of Christian Hackenberg and his receivers until now. I don’t place much stock in last week’s performance against Indiana, and I don’t think that there will be a similar performance this week by any means. I believe that the Buckeyes will put much pressure on Hack. Not good.
The “Rule of Thirds” will surely sink the offense, as I brought up last week. Shitty third down conversion rate and shitty third quarters lose games. Penn State ranks 120th in third down conversions. Ohio State has outscored opponents 62-19 in third quarters through six games, while Penn State has been outscored 31-13 in third quarters.
So, no, I don’t think the Nittany Lions will win this thing. Ohio State opened a three-touchdown favorite at home over Penn State, with an over/under of 47. The numbers have subsequently moved to favor tOSU by 17 with an over/under of 48½. This would suggest that a 33-16 win by the Buckeyes is where the gambling houses balance out. Especially if Saquon Barkley doesn’t play, I’m not sure the good guys can get to 16. So, let’s say Ohio State 35, Penn State 6 to bring this thing back to reality after the giddiness of the Indiana win. Yeah, that’s right, a Hoosier. Put that easy win into perspective and take the under.
We need to see whether either or both forthcoming opponents, #12 Michigan (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) and #7 Moo U. (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten), are “for real” this year. They meet Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in da Big House, where Michigan is currently favored by 7½-8 points at home, after opening as a mere three-point favorite (home field advantage in an even game). No respect for that Moo U. defense this year?
Holy cow! Temple (5-0, 2-0 AAC) is favored by three touchdowns over hapless UCF (0-6, 0-2 AAC). Who ever heard of Temple being favored by three touchdowns over anyone. Poor UCF — they suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck! At 0-6, is it any wonder that George O’Leary stepped down as AD to concentrate on coaching. It wouldn’t surprise me if George stepped out completely after this pitiful year!
I’ll be back after the game with my inimitable Turkey Wrap. In the meanwhile, Go Lions, and Happy Birthday Artificially Sweetened!