It’s a damn Communist plot, I tell you!
The star-crossed Nittany Lions (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) kick off the second half of this wild and crazy season with a prime-time visit to the cornfields of Iowa, where the Hawkeyes (4-2, 2-0) await. Hawkeyes lead the all-time series 12-9. While Iowa has a fair-ta-middlin’ defense, this turkey is pretty damn confident that there ain’t gonna be no 6-4 debacle repeats this year.
Why, pray tell? You know as well as I do! Bill O’Brien’s offense can smoke ’em. Although still lacking in several skills and some polish, Penn State’s offensive unit has rounded into some serious playing shape. O’Brien named himself offensive coordinator, eschewing the hiring of a specialist to whom to delegate the role. Why? Because he loves this stuff, and he knows what he’s doing. Just think what he could do with guys like Brady and Gronk!
(One of the local PSU aficionados, Nittany1, believes that much offensive success in the world traces back to George O’Leary influenced ACC coaching. We’ll explore that in another article going down the line.)
Penn State’s meetings with Iowa haven’t been pretty and the Nittany Lions haven’t won at Kinnick Stadium since 1999. Of course, now that that win has been vacated by the NCAA, the water is even muddier than the muddy Mississippi. This has always been a wild and wacko series. Replete with crap like the aforementioned 6-4 game, Paterno chasing a game official into the locker room, and some supposed hatred between the teams (for whatever reason, I cannot imagine), it is a series that keeps one guessing from year to year. More often than not, Iowa has proven to be a serious nemesis for Penn State, and the team that looks better on paper seldom looks better on the field. But it is the ugliness that sticks in my craw. Iowa, you see, was one of the locations where a disgusting t-shirt disparaging Penn State for the Sandusky scandal originated. I guess they don’t have much to worry about there other than the height of the corn and the capriciousness of that big river.
Yes, we’re going the negative route with the deep background on Iowa. My self-declared hypocrisy is showing, I know, when I preach playing nice and clean, but turn around and dig up disparaging, albeit interesting, facts about our foe. A little tit-for-t-shirt, as it were. Let’s give them some real t-shirt material.
Iowa is the alma mater of one of the most famous Soviet spies in the history of the Cold War, George Koval (1913-2006), who was an American who acted as a Soviet intelligence officer. According to Russian sources, Koval’s infiltration of the Manhattan Project as a Glavnoye Razvedyvatel’noye Upravleniye (GRU) agent “drastically reduced the amount of time it took for Russia to develop nuclear weapons.”
We, at Penn State, are particularly offended by this bit of Iowa history, as it were, for as we are all aware, the only thing worse than a child endangering convicted pedophile is a nation threatening, no good, yellow-bellied, left leaning, nuclear secret robbing Commie spy traitor! Frankly, I’d rather cheer for the ‘Huskers than admit to having educated this Soviet hero. You’ll be damn sorry when his life story is portrayed on HBO with Martin Landau in the lead role, and Iowa gets prominent mention throughout the biopic. And it’s all your fault, Iowans. (As much as Sandusky’s exploits were our fault, you bunch of t-shirt wearing, anti-Penn State cowards! NOW, who’s lower than low!
Here’s the intro to the Wikipedia article about Comrade George Koval:
Koval was born to Jewish immigrants in Sioux City, Iowa, USA. Shortly after reaching adulthood he traveled with his parents to the Soviet Union to settle in the Jewish Autonomous Region near the Chinese border. Koval was recruited by the Soviet Main Intelligence Directorate, trained, and assigned the code name DELMAR. He returned to the United States in 1940 and was drafted into the US Army in early 1943. Koval worked at atomic research laboratories and, according to the Russian government, relayed back to the Soviet Union information about the production processes and volumes of the polonium, plutonium, and uranium used in American atomic weaponry, and descriptions of the weapon production sites. In 1948, Koval left on a European vacation but never returned to the United States. In 2007 Russian President Vladimir Putin posthumously awarded Koval the Hero of the Russian Federation decoration for “his courage and heroism while carrying out special missions”.
Harrumph! We’re still using euphemisms for spying. Let us call a spade a spade. Koval wasn’t a special missionary, he was a fucking Iowa traitor spy!
But I digress.
What do I like about Iowa? They wear Steelers uniforms. That’s about it.
There’s not much to like about Iowa’s offense. What there was is presumably out for this game. Prolific running back Mark Weisman injured his ankle in Iowa’s 19-16 win over Michigan State, and although medically cleared to play, is listed as doubtful. Overpaid Hawkeye Chief Espionage Agent Komrade Kirk Ferentz is hoping that he won’t be needed for this game. However, Weisman had run his fourth consecutive 100-yard game when he pulled up lame. Four running backs in total have gone down one way or another for Iowa this season. Even the rookie backup guys are injured. If Weisman doesn’t play, it is unclear from whence the running attack will come.
What about passing, you ask? Anemic. The Iowa aerial game is the crappiest in the Big Ten, with just two touchdowns all year. Ferentz will either have to figure out what they’re doing poorly or rely on his running game (see above). Hell, yeah! Penn State is pretty pretty pretty damn good against the run, particularly with a gimpy sophomore walk-on ex-fullback handling the chores. Are you getting the “No offense, but…” picture again? The defense will have to force safeties in order to put any points on the board, while any significant production from the offense will have to come through the air. Whether it succeeds or not is up to Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg and his receivers, coupled with the always suspect Penn State defensive secondary.
Although Iowa has a serviceable defense, we think the Nittany Lions can go NASCAR on them and confuse the shit out of them. It is likely that we’ll see some new offensive scenarios, as we’ve learned to expect the unexpected with Bill O’Brien. It will require a smash-mouth variant on the O’Brien theme to whack Iowa.
I hope this doesn’t come down to being a game of field position, especially if it is a close one that could be decided by a field goal. Penn State flat out sucks on special teams. Meanwhile, Mike Meyer of Iowa was four for four in the Moo U. game, something that would occur for Sam Ficken only in a wet dream. Meyer won that game with his foot, coming from behind with a double-overtime, 19-16 win.
The weather won’t be a factor: mostly clear with a low of 40°F (4°C).
Coaching could be a factor. Since Paterno’s old buddy Hayden Fry retired and Kirk Ferentz took over, Iowa always seemed to have the coaching edge. But that was Paterno and this is now. Will Ferentz be able to outcoach O’Brien? Giving the impediments in his path for this game, he’s going to have to be clever to win. Of course, since Iowa trains spies, it is inevitable that Comrade Ferentz will happen into the game plan in an attempt to thwart an Irish conspiracy. Oh, yeah, paranoia will reign supreme in Iowa City.
So now that it is after 4:00 am, I’m going to fire up the crystal ball, for it works much better in the wee hours. Yes, friends, it is time for the Official Turkey Poop Prognostication for PSU-Iowa 2012. The bookies and their clients are favoring Iowa at home by 2½ points with an over/under of 42½. Penn State has a real juggernaut going here: won its last four games going away, putting up well over 30 points on average. It won’t stop at Kinnick. Final score: Nittany Lions 24, Kovalski 6. Take the “under”.