The Nittany Lions moved forward in one way in their 16-3 loss to Wisconsin: they cut the number of turnovers in half from the previous game. However, in the process, they lost Zack Mills and Michael Robinson to serious injuries. As you all know by now, those two account for much of the offense.
The little used Chris Ganter stepped in and picked up the pieces the best he could, but wound up 5-22 for 21 yards with one interception. In the words of Tom Bradley, in the post-game press conference, “Chris just doesn’t get the reps and he isn’t a running threat like Michael, so Wisconsin didn’t have to respect certain things.” (Bradley subbed for Paterno at the press conference. Joe left immediately after the game because he learned that his son-in-law had sustained serious injuries in a bicycle accident.)
The huge Wisconsin front four wore out the Nittany Lions’ offensive line and stayed in the three Lions QBs faces throughout the game. They allowed only 65 rushing yards. Three turnovers by the Lions in the first half led to 10 Wisconsin points.
On the other side of the ball, the Badgers also turned over the ball three times, which kept the score close. However, with no offense on the part of the Lions, Wisconsin did not have to score many points to win. Although not noted for their offense and somewhat hampered by the loss of running back Booker Stanley to turf toe, the Badgers rolled up 283 total yards to Penn State’s 121 and had 18 first downs to Penn State’s 7. The Nittany Lions sucked at third down conversions, making just one of eleven.
The Penn State defense showed some signs of life, for a change, in the first half but they still let themselves be steamrolled for 132 yards on 29 carries by 6-2, 270-pound Matt Bernstein, who moved over from fullback to sub for Stanley. This defense made the lumbering incredible hulk look like Emmitt Smith, much to the delight of the record home crowd at Camp Randall Stadium. Too many tackles on running plays are still being made in the secondary. One tackle that was NOT made in the secondary occurred on a touchdown run by Badger quarterback John Stocco, as Alan Zemaitis stood in awe in the end zone watching the well executed bootleg instead of moving up to make the tackle on the field of play. To give credit where due, Zemaitis had played an excellent game to that point.
No excuses. We just lost.
Still, I have to ask a question. What happened to the replay review that Big Ten officials were supposed to have implemented? On a third down passing play to Isaac Smolko, the officials on the field ruled the pass incomplete; however, the TV replay seemed to show that Smolko caught the ball for a first down. Perhaps I don’t understand the rules about what triggers the replay, but I thought that this was the type of situation the review system was designed to thwart. Reviews are initiated by an official in the booth who communicates with the referee via pager. The review is based on conclusions reached by the booth official after viewing the replay provided by the TV coverage. Unlike the NFL, coaches cannot initiate a challenge. So, what happened? Was this play not as it looked, was the replay official sitting in the booth with his thumbs up his ass, or am I completely off base about how the replay system works?
With another loss under our belt, the Nittany Lions (2–2, 0–1) now face #19 Minnesota(4–0, 1–0), a team that has had our number for quite a long time, in their home gopher hole. Michael Robinson is not expected to play, but the good news is that he was released from the hospital in Madison. The Turkey sees a rocky road ahead. Do not look for a win in Minnesota. Given the Nittany Lions’ anemic offense and porous defense, this Thanksgiving fowl reluctantly and apologetically predicts a 37-10 loss to the Golden Gophers.