Mills Lane’s words kick off this Orange Bowl edition of The Nittany Turkey: Let’s get it on!
The Orange Bowl kicks off in less than an hour, which means an end to all the prize fight posturing. The hype and the smack will give way to combat on the field. All the bullshit from pundits, pseudo-pundits, and buffoons is now over except that which will be slung at you by this Turkey.
Always needing to get the last word in (risking not having it read), without further ado, The Nittany Turkey now presents his Official Keys to Beating the Seminoles in the 2006 Orange Bowl.
- Tony Hunt must run for more than 50 yards. If the Nittany Lion offensive line allows Seminole Brodrick Bunkley to plug up the middle with his massive, All-America bulk, Hunt must use his skill to establish the run for Penn State. This is important to keep the defense rested and to not have to rely on our sometimes erratic passing game.
- Take care of the damn ball. This is an area in which we improved greatly during the year, but it is always a concern. Penn State actually wound up the year with a positive turnover ratio despite genuinely putrid performance early in the season. Meanwhile, the Seminoles have coughed up the ball a lot. The Nittany Lions need to take care of business on offense and take advantage of FSU turnovers on defense.
- Disrupt the FSU passing game. This is obviously of prime importance. The Seminoles can burn PSU with the long ball, but they’re vulnerable to disruption in that Drew Weatherford is a relatively inexperienced quarterback. A strong pass rush, including gambling on some blitzes will be essential against a suspect FSU offensive line. Clemson, for example, used this to their advantage. FSU’s receivers are both fast and tall, and even the highly experienced secondary of Penn State, which has not seen anything like these guys all season, can be beaten by them. Thus, the pressure on Weatherford from the Penn State front seven must be omnipresent and vigorous.
The Turkey is not smart enough to predict an outcome and a final score. However, I feel confident that if the Nittany Lions accomplish the objectives I’ve listed above, they’ll win.
What could go wrong? Well, The Turkey worries that the Seminoles could find a way to neutralize Michael Robinson, whose performance has been the big difference maker all year. This is a major key to a FSU upset. That’s what they did with Marcus Vick to steal the ACC championship from Virginia Tech. They’re well coached and you can be sure that rendering Robinson one-dimensional has been a primary key in their preparation for the Orange Bowl. FSU’s fast and talented wide receivers can burn PSU deep by exploiting speed and size mismatches, as I mentioned above. That’s a big worry, if Weatherford is given time to hit them. Finally, the Seminoles have the capability to break kick returns for long gains—and the Nittany Lions have been burnt more than a few times this season by speedy kick returners.
So, let us hope that the hype, the distractions, the women, the warm weather, and the long layoff are not the deciding factors. Let this game be decided cleanly on the field at Dolphins Stadium tonight. GO LIONS!