The Nittany Lions (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) came out looking like they have looked in every game this year, with the exception being that they were Scott free. However, against a crappy Iowa defense, they figured out that they could win this game, and they woke up midway through the second quarter instead of waiting for the second half. For a while, it looked like the predictions of final scores to rival the notorious 6-4 Iowa win of the 2004 season would come true. (My prediction was 9-6; I saw some others like 3-2 and, hilariously, 1-0). However, Penn State prevailed authoritatively, whipping hapless Iowa 27-7.
Speaking of whips, our favorite whipping boy, Anthony Morelli had an up-and-down game. He was booed coming off the field in the first half, but later he was cheered. Jeered and cheered, cheered and jeered. He throws a screen pass to nowhere. He hits a wide-open Bell in the end zone with a perfect pass and Bell drops the damn thing. He connects with Derrick Williams for a touchdown. He throws two interceptions. All in all, a fair, albeit erratic, day for A-Mo: 18-31 for 233 with one TD and 2 INTs. And, playing in Beaver Stadium denied Morelli the opportunity to flip off hostile fans, though the locals were at times scornful toward Anthony, particularly before the second quarter wake-up call.
The defense was pretty stingy, allowing only 46 rushing yards and under 200 total yards. However, Iowa has no offense. Don’t automatically start thinking that it will be that easy to shut down P.J. Hill next week.
Special teams’ performance was good overall, the highlight being a 53-yard, career best field goal by Kevin Kelly. The low point was a head-up-the-ass fair catch called and executed by Derrick Williams at the 5 yard-line. Call the fair catch and get the hell out of the way, Williams! And how about our special teams coaches doing a little work on kickoff return coverage? Perhaps they de-emphasized that aspect of the game because of the expected dearth of scoring.
Can we talk here? Oy, Austin Scott is so fired. He has been “suspended indefinitely” for “an unspecified violation of team rules,” whatever the hell that means. Most of us will make the connection to the alleged rape that occurred on campus at 4 AM on Friday. That’s just speculation. Details will emerge over time. Obviously, Paterno has always given players the benefit of the doubt when they have been accused of various and sundry crimes; however, he comes down hard on them when it becomes clear that they have actually transgressed. In this case, the “unspecified violation” probably relates more to the circumstances surrounding the alleged rape than the crime itself, with which Scott might or might not be charged. If he was arrested at 4 AM after a night of carousing, that would certainly violate team rules. Scott has cleaned out his locker and we’ve probably seen the last of him. As RUTS posits in his comment to a prior post on the subject, we’ve reduced our fumbling output by about 66%.
FOS has also learned that at a hastily called squad meeting Friday, head coach Joe Paterno informed the rest of the Nittany Lions that Scott is no longer a member of the team. Multiple sources confirmed Paterno’s comments at the squad meeting.
The Scott fiasco in itself would be bad enough, but we’ve seen too much of this kind of crap over the past decade not to conclude that there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark. Arrowgate, Ed Johnson, Chisley, Scirrotto…what’s next? It used to be a big deal when, for example, Bobby Engram stole a stereo from a friend’s apartment, or Rashard Casey got into a fight in a New Jersey bar. Now, we seem to be rather inured to this type of thing—almost accepting. Perhaps now we can see why Scott failed to live up to the promise of his recruitment days. As a player he’s a bust because he lacks the self-discipline to focus on football and academics (ha-ha).
The sad thing brought out by this incident, among others, is that this team has no leadership. If it had, the Scott problem might never have occurred. A sports team is just a collection of individuals without leadership. In this case, good, strong leadership could have reeled in this wayward individual and sent him forward on the path of righteousness for the glory of the team. Alas, no such leadership exists. So, farewell. Austin, we hardly knew ye.
Andrew Quarless did not start in this game. Mickey Shuler did. This was Paterno’s way of telling the talented tight end to get his lazy ass focused. He later entered the game and made some significant contributions.
Meanwhile, around the country, it was another devastating week for top ten teams. In the biggest upset of them all, #2 USC was knocked off by Stanford.
However, for us Big Ten folk, the big deal was Illinois beating #5 Wisconsin, proving that the Illini victory over Penn State was not a flash in the pan. (Yeah, I know—we should have won that game—Morelli, Morelli, Morelli…)
In other Big Ten action, Ohio State made a defensive statement, throwing a wet blanket over Purdue’s aerial fireworks. Joe Tiller’s vaunted offense seemed to be unstoppable. So, Ohio State is the sole surviving undefeated Big Ten team. It appears that they’re for real.
Michigan State is reverting to form. Kind of like Morelli, one day they look great and the next day they look shitty. They and Northwestern battled to a 41-41 tie at the end of regulation, which Northwestern won in overtime 48-41.
So, now…what of this weekend’s results and what effect will they have on my predictions for the season. Like many of you, the unexpected point production against Iowa made me wonder whether I was being too hard on the boys. But then I said, “Nahhhhh, Iowa sucks and there’s no great reason for optimism.” I think we lose to Wisconsin and Ohio State. I have mixed feelings about Indiana, Purdue, and Moo U. We definitely beat Temple. (Sorry, Jenny. I will not adjust my expectations there.) We could actually finish the season with a winning record and be bowl eligible (albeit the much maligned Toilet Bowl in Kohler Wisconsin).
Special Note of Congratulations to the McCabe Sisters: Notre Dame finally broke their schneid with a 20-7 win over UCLA. I was wrong in my assessment that they would start 0-8. They will start 1-7, and you can take dat one to da bank!
I’ll be back on Wednesday, or thereabouts, with irreverent comments about Wisconsin and a link to that annoying-as-hell badger thing. Aw, hell. Why wait? Here it is.