Turner Gill was one helluva good option quarterback for Tom Osborne’s Cornhuskers back in the 80s. I hear he’s a helluva good head coach, too. However, he doesn’t have a lot of hope for success with the material he has to work with at perennial Mid-America Conference bottom dweller Buffalo, for a few years, anyway.
Nevertheless, the Buffalo Bulls, who will get the snot kicked out of them on Saturday at Beaver Stadium, aren’t completely dead. By virtue of a 42-7 drubbing of Ãœberpatsie Temple last Saturday, they have extricated themselves from David Duffy’s Bottom 10 on Espn.com. So, they’re momentarily pussies, not patsies, who will get a primo pasting by Paterno’s posse. The sports books have set the spread at 34.5 points, and it ain’t gonna be that close.
They’re not playing Temple this week. They’ll be looking at the #1 defense against the run. The Nittany Lions are also ranked #2 in total defense and #6 in scoring defense. But who have they played? It’s pretty easy to rank highly in defense when you’ve played a couple of teams with no offense. Hell, who knows—maybe Buffalo will be the best test of this defense thus far!
(That mascot pictured above is called Victoria Bull. Is there such a thing as a female bull? Shouldn’t it be Victoria Cow?)
Aside from mercilessly kicking Temple’s ass on their home turf, the Bulls’ major achievement this season is scoring three points on Rutgers in their 38-3 loss.
We’ll get to see Andrew Quarless for the first time this season, although Paterno says he’ll have to win the tight end job back. That’s pretty much a joke. He’ll have to beat out Jordan Lyons and Mickey Shuler. No offense meant to Lyons and Shuler, but Quarless is potentially the best tight end Penn State has seen since Kyle Brady, and that includes some who have gone on to be NFL starters.
So, one end of the offensive line will improve by virtue of Quarless’ return. The rest of those big galutes better view this game as a serious practice opportunity. They better get their act together before taking the trip to Michigan the following week. No matter what you’re thinking about the Wolverines after their two early losses, they’ve got more talent on their second string than we’ve seen so far this year. Beating them in Ann Arbor is the key to a potential BCS season-ender, but I digress.
As evidenced by the absence of a running game against Notre Dame in the first half, the offensive line is still deficient. I will avoid the use of the verb “suck” for the time being, because I can’t really tell. They certainly can improve, but whether they have the talent to compete successfully in the Big Ten is in serious doubt, even though the Big Ten seems weak this year. Now, with Shaw and Eliades injured, they’ve got yet another handicap.
For Penn State to be successful, we need more than a great defense. We’ve been blowing off for far too long about how great our linebackers are, how great our defense is, etc., etc., etc. Our defense was great when we lost to Iowa by the baseball score of 6-4 back in 2004. When we look down the road this year, we’re going to be facing some pretty fair defenses, like Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Iowa. It would take a helluva big load off our defense if we didn’t have to call upon it to score points. Will the offense be able to carry its share of the load? As I’ve been saying — for how many years? — it pretty much centers on a decent offensive line. Yeah, yeah, I know. You’re tired of reading my harangues about it. If they show me something — anything — I’ll shut up!
So, what I want to see in this Buffalo game is the presence of a running game—in the first half! Furthermore, I want to see Mr. Morelli’s head in the game instead of up his ass—in the first half! He’s a senior; the rookie mistakes should be behind him. OK, Morelli, your challenge is to complete more than half your passes and commit no turnovers. Think you can handle it? And Mr. Scott, you need to hit those holes with authority. This ain’t Dance Fever and you ain’t Fred Astaire. Remember a guy named Tony Hunt? He plays for the Eagles now. If the offensive line didn’t make holes for him, he plowed into people anyway. Dancing around looking for nonexistent holes will only cost you yards.
This brings us to the Official Turkey Poop Prognostication for this week. The Nittany Lion defense is special, but I won’t be predicting a shut-out. I think we’re still in early season mode and we still make mistakes, some of which will lead to scoring opportunities for the Bulls. Furthermore, you know how Paterno is about playing fifth-stringers when it’s all over but the shouting. So, Penn State 54, Buffalo 3.