Penn State (1-5) vs. Rutgers (2-4)
Penn State (1-5) ranks #22 in CBS Sports’ Bottom 25 after their surprising win over Michigan last Saturday. This week’s opponent, the mighty Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-4) is unranked, but the oddsmakers and their gambling minions are heavily favoring our visiting Nittany Lions in a game that will be played in shitty December New Jersey weather at noon on Saturday.
And no, I will not re-post the article from 2015 featuring Rutgers’ own Asia Carrera as the Distinguished Alumna of the Week. So don’t ask!
The question expressed by this article’s title translates to this: Was last week’s win a fluke and will it be back business as usual this week? I am one conflicted turkey, torn between my heart and my head. My loyal heart says they’re emerging from their doldrums while my pragmatic brain tells me that reversion to crappy form is more likely, especially given the noon start on the road. PSU never does well with those, even in good years! Let me flap my beak a little more.
Sanguinarians will tell you that Penn State has solved its problems and that its talent is so superior to other teams in the conference that bad coaching must be the problem. They would be wrong. Sanguinarians would say that the reason players are distracted, acting as if they do not want to be there, is bad coaching. They would be wrong. However, a lack of talent and motivation can be and is exacerbated by bad coaching. Plenty of blame to go around. Don’t exonerate either the coaches or the players.
Who be Rutgers?
Back to our suddenly worthy opponent, former Penn State assistant Greg Schiano has made a serious attempt toward a football renaissance in his second stint at the Estate Ooneebairseethee of Nueva Yerssey. Their two meager wins, over Purdue and Moo U., do not tell the full story of this season. Last year, they were total crap (yet Penn State struggled with them in the Thanksgiving weekend game, which embarrassed me in front of in-laws in Chicago). This year, they’re slightly less than crap. So there!
Where is Vicki Triponey, anyway, and why do you ask?
Even though I haven’t written anything about Vicki in eight years, I just want to see if she’s still one of my loyal readers. If you’re out there, Vicki, please comment below, and bring your friend Mark Emmert. But I digress.
Ahem, yes, who be Rutgers, already?!
Sanguinarians will tell you that the Scarlet Knights haven’t played anyone this year, so they obviously are crappy and unworthy. Besides, Piscataway suuuuuuuuuucks. Our old friend Jim Delany set up a four-way pseudo-rivalry between Maryland, Moo U. Penn State, and Rutgers, so this is a pseudo-rivalry game. (Sanguinarians think our real rivalry is with Ohio State, because we’re their equals, so it must be). Another pseudo-rivarly game is next week’s home game against Moo U for the vaunted Land Grant Trophy. Oy vey! But this… yes this… ahhh the great rivalry with Rutgers evokes memories of Paterno Crossing the Delaware and long winters at Valley Forge. What the hell am I talking about? Another (cue echo chamber and James Earl Jones basso profundo voice-over) GAME OF THE CENNNNTURY!
Oh yeah, the pseudo-rivalry. Sure, Delany, if you say so. But it ain’t one. Even Greg Schiano has acknowledged that. Penn State typically plays down to its Joisey Swamp pseudo-rival, as the Lions did last year. What bullshit that was! Looking past the Scarlet Knights to the great big bowl game with … with… with… Memphis, they was, Cap’n, they sure was, I tellya! Or maybe the crappy play in that game started what would be continued in the first five games of this season: suckage.
All I can say is that my Chicago in-laws were completely unimpressed and asked me why I was hiding out watching the TV when they were eating pizza. Hiding out was appropriate in the circumstances.
Although Penn State won that game 27-6, they played like shit. The offensive line got kicked around all day. Gamblers who were stupid enough to bet on a game with a 40-point spread were either sorely disappointed or made some big bucks on PSU tanking.
James Franklin was at it again with his use of the ridiculous word “explosive” in Tuesday’s media meetup regarding this game. “We need to be more explosive and we need to keep them from making explosive plays.” I’ll give you an explosion, already. This mantra has been going on for too long. Last year, after the Rutgers game, I wrote:
What the hell is it with this “explosive” bullshit? From time to time, some asshole will come up with a vogue word in the wonderful world of sports jargon, and all the trite-ass vocalizers feel obliged to glom onto it. James Franklin is a frequent offender. After the game, he commented, “We weren’t as explosive as we needed to be and probably gave up too many explosive plays.” Translation: “We slept through the first half, our offense sucked big time, and our defense failed to show up until sometime in the third quarter.”—TNT, November 30, 2019
All right, another vacuous, albeit psychotic, digression. But you get the point, even if you do not agree with me. Let’s get back on track, shall we?
So, you say, Yes, Turkey, Rutgers has been putting up some points this year, 185, to be exact, but look at who those points were against!” I’ll ask you, who the hell do you think WE ARE? “Why, forsooth! WE ARE PENN STATE!” Yeah, and Penn State is 1-5 and has allowed oodles of points this year, 197, to be exact, while scoring only 150. The Nittany Lions can run on … on… on Michigan. No one else. WTF? I rest my case.
Say something, willya!?
Come to think of it, I don’t have anything to say about this game. My attitude will be to watch the game (if I can see it through the late fall stormy weather) with an open mind and hope the gamblers are right. I’m too lazy to do any in-depth research, especially if I’m going to be embarrassed as I was last year. The team better be prepared, because Schiano II has a point to prove, and he’ll have his players ready. Can Franklin do the same? Who knows?! So, I’ll launch right into the wrap-up.
Oh, is this one going to be fun! The AccuWeather® forecast calls for a high of 47° with winds becoming strong and rain, heavy at times. Winds are predicted to be NNW at 21 mph with gusts to 56. Precipitation probability is 80%. Turnover weather!
At kickoff time, the temp might well be a damp, chilly 45° that feels more like 30° with the aforementioned strong wind gusts. Let us hope that Penn State can establish the running game and hang onto the damn ball, because passing will be perilous in these conditions. Oy vey!
Official Turkey Poop Prediction
So, now, just like the awful offal of its namesake, I shall pull a smelly prediction right out of my cloaca. Penn State is favored by 11 with an over/under of 53. Who knows where that line will go once word regarding the weather leaks out to the gambling public? If you take it as a valid indicator, it suggests that Penn State will win the game 32-21.
For my money, I don’t think Penn State will cover that kind of spread and I do not think they will score that many points, particularly if the weather forecast holds. I’m inclined to believe many of the season’s woes will return, given the noon start, the weather, and being on the road. Oh, how I would love another win, but I have this one as a Rutgers upset: Rutgers 22, Penn State 17. Take the under.
What? You’re unhappy that I did not quote Shakespeare this time? Isn’t one “forsooth” good enough for you? Come on, guys. The quality of mercy is not strain’d. See you after the game with an equally vacuous wrap-up!