Can you feel the excitement? Really? All right, enough of that! Noon games suck. We all know that. Players don’t want to get out of bed that early. The student section at Beaver Stadium doesn’t fill up until halftime, and even then, half of them are hung over and distracted. The damn game is on the Big Ten Network, which speaks for itself—we’ll be watching Velveeta/Ro-Tel commercials for three hours. All of this leads to a significantly lowered energy level both in the stadium and in Mike’s Garage, where our quasi-geriatric gang will convene once again for this week’s Penn State opus.
One more thing. It’s Yom Kippur so this sinning Jewish Turkey will be fasting while feeling guilty about watching football on this most solemn day. But I can atone for that sin next year.
The #22 Nittany Lions (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) meet the unranked Kent State Golden Flashes (1-1, 0-0 MAC) on home turf Saturday at noon. The Lions are coming off a beat-down at the behest of the Alabama Crimson Tide, while the Golden Flashes suffered a similar loss at Boston College.
In a primarily passing game, the Eagles defeated the Golden Flashes 26-13. Kent State allowed 212 yards passing and 87 running, while being able to muster a measly 4 yards rushing themselves. Top running back Eugene Jarvis, who also returns kicks, did not play due to a groin injury. He sat out most of last year with a kidney ailment. (Given that he was born with only one kidney—a condition known as congenital monorenareniolyticlackakidneyosis—that was not good.) Sophomore quarterback Spencer Keith is a throwing machine, however. He went 22-36 for 201 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Five turnovers and no running game to speak of dealt the fatal blow to the Golden Flashes. All in all, Kent State is not a complete patsy. They can be expected to put up a fight.
The defense returns seven starters and the offense, which had been decimated by injuries and illness last year, is healthy. Special teams are solid. Coach Doug Martin has not had a losing season. But Kent State is 0-9 all-time against the Big Ten and 0-3 against Penn State. The last time the two teams played each other was 2003.
So this should be a good game to continue working on the shoddy Penn State offensive line and anemic running game. Kent State’s experienced defense should provide substantial resistance. It would be interesting to see more of freshman running back Silas Redd, who looked impressive in the fourth quarter of the Alabama game, albeit against a tired defense. All indications are that doghouse denizen Johnnie Troutman will start at left guard instead of The Best Apostrophe (DeOn’Tae Pannell). This Turkey wants to see those guys pushing the defense around this time. No more of that crap we saw with the Penguins. Let’s see 180 yards rushing this game, guys.
Will Rob Bolden be over his rookie performance against Alabama? We’re all on the edge of our chairs hoping for a flawless game from the freshman. As with the running game, Bolden will face a veteran defense, so he’ll have to be on his toes, spread the ball around, and not telegraph his choice of receivers. And, of course, the much maligned offensive line will have to provide enough protection for Bolden to operate. It was interesting that not a single sack was recorded by Alabama. And one more thing—Zug will have to catch the damn ball.
I’m worried about Fera’s punting game. Although he had a decent 45-yarder in the Youngstown State game, the crap flying off his foot in the Alabama game made it look like he was kicking cow pies or something. Having lost all our punters in the off-season, we’re making do with a converted place kicker here. Let us hope that he gets back on track.
I’m also worried about the defensive secondary. They didn’t show me anything at all in the Alabama game. I think Sukay is always a step or two too slow, which is a problem when runners keep getting into the defensive backfield because of the (thus far) disappointing front seven. I want to see this defense forcing some turnovers in this game. They’ve been acting like a bunch of tackling dummies instead of flying to the ball. Watch a Steelers game, willya guys? They’ll show you how it’s done.
Tomorrow will be a beautiful day in Beaver Stadium, sunny with a high of 76. I wish I were there. Weather will provide no excuses for either side.
And now, that moment you’ve all been waiting for: The Official Turkey Poop Prediction! But first, did you hear how cranked up Joe Paterno got at the brief press session after the Alabama game? He jumped all over Mark Brennan from Scout.com when he asked if Paterno really thought he was outcoached (after Paterno had already said, “we were outcoached and outplayed”). I hope that carried over into the locker room where he gave the team “the dickens”, or “the business”, or maybe even “some heck”. But I digress. Las Vegas is reporting a current spread of 21 points with an over/under of 45, which suggests a final score of something like 33-12. But you know how bad Penn State is at covering the spread by this time, don’t you? Well, if you don’t, let me just say that they damn well are! So I’m going with Penn State 34, Kent State 13.