This Saturday closes the book on the 2007 regular season for the Nittany Lions. This Turkey would be content to bury this season amongst the vast unwashed of Penn State football memories, for there were few high points, much average, uninspired play, and a bunch of embarrassing off-field incidents that combined to render this a rather undistinguished year. It would be nice to go out with a win, but can they pull it off?
I’m sure you’ve heard about Chris Baker and Navarro Bowman having been charged with assault in that early season HUB brawl. Baker, you might remember, also is contesting felony burglary charges pending against him from the April 1 melee at a State College apartment. Knowledge Timmons was issued a citation for a lesser offense. PennLive.com reported that the three will not make the trip to East Lansing this weekend. This is an apt capstone on a year laced with far too many such incidents, from the brawl at the Meridian to the brawl at the HUB to Austin Scott’s rape charge to underage drinking arrests. Sadly, this is what the 2007 Lions will be remembered for.
The amazingly ugly trophy above, the vaunted Land-Grant Trophy, is what is up for grabs this weekend. I think the winner should take it over to Sanford & Son to see what they’ll offer for it. It won’t be much. Note that there are 76 little brass thingies on which to record annual results. By my calculation, by the time this trophy runs out of room, Joe Paterno will be coaching in his 104th season at Penn State, at the age of 144.
As for Michigan State (hereinafter referred to as Moo U.), this will be a tough road challenge for the Nittany Lions. Penn State is currently favored by 2.5 points, but that’s just sentimental money talking. We’ll have to see which version of each team shows up on the field on Saturday, but this Turkey thinks that it is going to be a difficult one for the Lions to win.
I think the potential is there for yet another one of those slow offensive starts that have become typical for Morelli and Company. It is a road game of some consequence, which our guys don’t handle well. Compound the shaky play with Paterno sphincter mode, and you have a formula for Moo U. jumping out to a 14-point lead in the first quarter. I hope not, but you can’t discount the possibility.
We’re playing for the difference between the Alamo Bowl and the Champ’s Sports Bowl. Isn’t that exciting? That should get these underachievers fired up for this game, shouldn’t it? Hell no, it won’t. I think you’ll see the same lackadaisical, no-fire offense, and a worn-down defense (thanks to injuries and indictments). As Paterno said, the guys are tired, having played 11 straight weeks. So, don’t expect to see a major motivational surge here in the Moo U. game. The fact that they’re playing for the monstrosity above won’t be enough. Furthermore, given that Michigan State’s tri-faceted running attack is not too shabby and our defense is riddled with injuries and arrests, it is going to be an uphill battle in East Lansing.
Speaking of motivation, I’m lacking the motivation to write much more, having been under the weather with a damn cold all week, so I’ll skip directly to the Official Nittany Turkey Poop Prediction: Michigan State 31, Penn State 27. See you here in Orlando!
Here’s a paragraph about the Temple game. Penn State won, 31-0, despite a completely lifeless, uninspired performance by the Nittany Lions. And now, the news.
Michigan and Ohio State both lost. Surely, you’ve heard. What are the implications for the post-season for the Big Ten, and what are the ramifications for the Nittany Lions? Damned if I know, but being a blogger, I am obligated to act as if I do. So let us commence with the quasi-gluteal analysis—another overconfident, semi-baseless, Turkeyesque pontification, as it were.
The loss to Illinois ends Ohio State’s quest for this season’s still somewhat mythical national championship (SSMNC), as it drops them to seventh place in the BCS, at the tail of the queue of top-tier, one-loss teams vying for the SSMNC. Frankly, this puts them out of their misery, as they would have surely gone down in flames to LSU or Oregon or whomever would have been their opponent just as convincingly as they lost to Florida last year, embarrassing the readily embarrassable Big Ten which on the whole was crappy last year and crappier this year. Now, the Buckeyes have to be content with losing to Arizona State in the Rose Bowl (presented by whoever the hell) if they can only beat Michigan next week. (And they will.)
And what of Michigan? Chad Henne and Mike Hart stuck around just so they could be a part of a Wolverine team that contended for the SSMNC. That went down the drain very rapidly in the counter-clockwise rotating vortex of a loss to Appalachian State and another very ugly loss to Oregon, for good measure. So, Messrs. Henne and Hart adjusted their lofty goals somewhat downward, settling on merely winning a Big Ten championship. That one is still up in the air after this week’s loss to Wisconsin, but sorry boys, it ain’t gonna happen. Michigan and Ohio State still hang onto the top rung of the Big Ten ladder with one conference loss each, and they’ll face each other next week. Alas, this Turkey has already postulated that Ohio State shall win that battle, and if the Turkey says it, it shall be so. So, too bad, Henne and Hart. You’ll have to settle for #2 or #3, maybe.
Illinois has two losses and their final game is against a somewhat shaky bunch of Wildcats from Northwestern. Don’t bet on anything here. The way college football is going this year, ain’t no such thing as a sure thing. However, if Illinois can avoid a lapse and conquer Northwestern, they’ll join Michigan in a tie for second place in the Big Ten. This sends the Maize and Blue to Orlando and the Fighting Illini sans Chief Illiniwek to Tampa.
That leaves the three-loss teams: Penn State and Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s final game is at Minnesota, about as sure a win as anything can be in the Big Ten this year. The Golden Gophers are anything but golden this year, having only a single win, a non-conference game with Miami of Ohio. They won that one by a mere six points. So, we’ll say Wisconsin will finish the year with three losses. Either they or Penn State will go to San Antonio, if the mediocre Nittany Lions can win their season ender against unpredictable Michigan State in East Lansing and remain at three losses—and that’s pretty optimistic considering how the Lions have looked on the field, particularly in consequential road games.
If we assume that Penn State will beat Moo U., this Turkey sees the Big Ten bowl picture shaking out like this:
Rose: Ohio State
Hall of Fame: Illinois
Alamo: Penn State
(Yeah, you’re right. I used the original names of those bowl games instead of the current, money-grubbing sponsor names. If you can’t figure out which is which, here’s the list in their present form: Rose Bowl presented by Citi, Capital One Bowl, Outback Bowl, Valero Alamo Bowl, and Champ’s Sports Bowl—what a buncha pecuniary shit!)
What’s that you say? Penn State not playing on New Year’s Day is a travesty? Stop chewing on the peyote and drink your Kool-Aid like a good boy. You’re delirious.
Anyhow, those of you who are counting on a Big Ten team getting an at-large BCS berth to move Penn State up in the bowl hunt might as well forget it. No matter what our emotions say, no teams in the Big Ten deserve to be in the BCS other than the obligatory one guaranteed a slot by way of the conference championship. That will be Ohio State, and the Rose Bowl is their BCS destination. Michigan and Illinois will play on New Year’s Day, too. The rest of us Big Ten peons must be content with lesser bowls.
Needless to say, if Penn State does not beat Michigan State, even the Champ’s Sports Bowl won’t want them. Instead of Orlando or San Antonio, we fans must be content to be going to the mythical Kohler Toilet Bowl in Kohler, Wisconsin to play against the Mighty McCabe Sisters—and it’s mighty cold in Kohler in late December.
This Turkey might receive scorn for saying this, but to hell with it (when did scorn ever stop me?), I’ll say it anyway. We’re damned fortunate for this underachieving team to be in the post-season at all, and playing a 4th place ACC or Big 12 team is the lot they’ve drawn with uninspired play all season long. Buncha shit, ain’t it, living in the middle of the pack, having bubbles burst week after week? Those of you who think we’re getting the shaft bowlwise if Penn State is invited to San Antonio, please wake up! The 2007 Nittany Lions do not deserve a New Year’s Day bowl game! Furthermore, they couldn’t win one, given their leaderless apathy and poorly coached game plans. I’d rather see the boys play a decent game against Boston College or Texas than get their clocks cleaned by the likes of Florida. This might be setting my sights low so I won’t be disappointed, but I can’t get all charged up about a team that can’t get itself all charged up.
Seems like there’s parity among top-tier teams in college football this year. On any given Saturday (or sometimes, Thursday), any one of them can beat any other. The Nittany Lions are on the outside of that group looking in, definitely not top-tier. How long do you think it will be before Penn State is able to beat a Top Ten team again? Anyhow, it is great fun to loot through the damn window from the outside to watch these elite teams beating the crap out of each other vying for the SSMNC, but nowhere near as much fun as it would be to be able to play on the same field with the big boys again.
I’m done for now. I’ll be back Wednesday with some appropriately irreverent comments about the forthcoming Michigan State game, including a glimpse of the trophy that goes to the winner of this annual contrived rivalry game, the vaunted Land Grant Trophy (pictured at left). In the meanwhile, as a continuing service by the Turkey, up-to-the-minute East Lansing weather will appear in the sidebar at right.
Note: Kohler did not pay for the free plug, and no toilet bowls were harmed in the creation of this blog.