All the polls agree that Penn State is the number five team in the country after this weekend’s games, but this Turkey is not convinced. Even easily handling Syracuse 28-7 was not enough to convince me. After all, this was Syracuse, and they suck.
While the Turkey does not gamble on these games, it must be noted that Penn State failed to cover the spread for the second straight week. Was it Beano Cook who once said that you would never go broke taking the spread against the Nittany Lions?
Having watched the Notre Dame vs. Michigan and USC vs. Ohio State games on Saturday, I am now officially worried about both the UM and OSU games. Those guys are big game ready. Our guys are not. One thing that is definitely missing from the Nittany Lions is fire. The Buckeyes came out for that USC game playing like there was no tomorrow; the Lions tend to look like it’s another day of work in the coal mine. Of course, they were playing against Syracuse, not USC. But I noted that same flatness in the Rose Bowl, where the opponent was, in fact, USC.
The only weakness I observed in OSU’s game was Terrelle Pryor’s two-minute offense performance. By the time the Buckeyes roll into Beaver Stadium on November 7, Pryor might have worked out his mental kinks in that area.
As for Michigan, it looks like Rich Rodriguez has found himself a quarterback in freshman Tate Forcier, who went 23-33 for 240 yards, 2 TDs, and an INT. He showed that he could perform well under big game pressure, winning the game with a touchdown pass with 11 seconds on the clock.
Back to the Syracuse game, my main concern is that the Penn State running game has not yet come together. The Nittany Lions chalked up a measly 78 net rushing yards. I’m not ready to blame Royster (12-41) and Green (8-26). The offensive line is not yet doing its job. Remember, please, that this was against Syracuse, and Syracuse sucks.
Passing was better, with Graham Zug (6-79, 1 TD) showing us why he’s Darryl Clark’s go-to guy. Clark was 20 of 31 with three TDs and an INT.
Syracuse’s only score came after a fumble by backup quarterback Kevin Newsome. Otherwise, the Penn State defense did its job, holding the Orangemen to 200 total yards. But remember, this was Syracuse (0-2, 0-0 Big East), and they suck.
Next week, we have another week off with Temple, and this Turkey better damn well see some improvement in the running game. Until that component comes together, we must look ahead to the Big Ten schedule with some dread. Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio State are going to be very tough to win without a ground game. Iowa is coming up the week after Temple. Is that enough time to work out the kinks in the offensive line?
I’ll be back later in the week for a preview of the Temple game, such as it is.