We must be politically correct, says the NCAA, so I’ve changed the name of Penn State’s opponent from the very offensive Indian-a to the PC version, Nativeamericaniana. I feel better now. And while no one knows just what the hell a Hoosier is, I’m sure just from the sound of it that it must be offensive to someone, so I guess I have to call them the Whodats, just to be safe. But I digress (already).
The Penn State Nittany Lions (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten) kick off their B1G season on the road in Bloomington, where they face the up-and-coming Nativeamericaniana Whodats (2-2, 0-0 Big Ten), who actually have been putting some people in the seats of Memorial Stadium of late.
My right hand still hurts from the fractured second metacarpal, so I’m going to give up the politically correct moniker, for now, anyway. It’s just too much to have to type. I’m irritating the fracture, already, but probably not as much as I’m irritating you!
The IU logo looks like the Greek letter psi, the first letter of the Greek root for psyche, psychology, etc. When you consider that both Lee Corso and Bob Knight are former IU coaches, it is clear that the psi represents psycho!
(“In Rome, they spoke Latin or Greek, which I’m pretty sure are the same thing.” —Zane, who at the time of utterance was the 10 year-old son of Artificially Sweetened, but who now, approaching 12, is in the process of being disowned due to attitudinal issues in middle school, but once again, I irrelevantly digress.)
In any case, we have commissioned the famous cupcake baker, Aliya Kumquat, to provide her specialty items for the purpose of honoring our opponents, as is our tradition at the gatherings at The Cave and Mike’s Garage. Each cupcake will be red velvet cake with icing bearing the IU logo. At the end of the day, if we could figure out just what the hell a Hoosier is, maybe we could incorporate one into the food plan.
And now, the b.s…
Both schools are coming off a bye week. Indiana’s last game was a 45-28 barn burner loss to Mizzou, while Penn State had an easy time of it, shutting out Kent State 34-zip.
Citing statistics’ll kill ya*
IU brings an offense that looks great statistically, ranking 8th in passing yards, 49th in rushing yards, and 11th in points scored. However, who the hell have they played? One good way to pump up stats is to play Indiana State and ring up 73 points. Things will get a little tougher now that the conference schedule has arrived, even if the B1G does suck as a whole.
The IU defense hasn’t exactly been the Steel Curtain, you know. They’ve allowed 32.8 points per game, and yeah, that’s with Indiana State on the schedule (even ISU scored 35 on ’em).
Statistically, the Penn State defense looks better, having allowed an average of 14.5 points per game, which ranks 13th in the nation. However, for every Indiana State, there is an Eastern Michigan or a Kent State, so while I think Penn State has the better defense, it’s still too early to tell. The only halfway decent team they faced was UCF (who cheated, but since everybody cheats, it evens out), and they scored 35. So this game might or might not tell us something we’ve been wanting to know about the Penn State defense. We still don’t know whether Indiana’s offense is any good.
Quarterbacks’ll kill ya
But still, they stretch the field. Freshman quarterback Nate Sudfeld is presently the second best quarterback in the B1G, having passed for 1,100+ yards through four games. Erstwhile double threat sophomore quarterback Tre Roberson, who broke his leg early last year and received a medical red-shirt, is available for action, too. He has played an excellent second fiddle role in each game this season, scoring three touchdowns. In 2012’s 45-22 victory over the Who-siers, the Nittany Lions didn’t see either of those two; nevertheless, the quarterback of the day, Cam Coffman torched the PSU secondary with a 33-59, 454 yard performance, albeit suffering two interceptions. This here old birdbrain thinks that no matter who shows up at QB, Penn State’s secondary is exploitable, particularly if the front seven’s pass rush is unremarkable (as it was against UCF, cheating notwithstanding). Ryan Keiser is out, which could mean that the secondary is going to suck worse.
This is liable to be a shoot-out, kinda like last year. Last year, PSU ran the ball 44 times against what they considered to be a weak rushing defense. This year, Indiana ranks #115 in rushing defense, giving up 247 ypg, while they rank #37 in pass efficiency defense. Yeah, I’m betting that we see a lot of the rushing triumvirate of Zwinak, Belton, and Lynch. Keep the damn ball away from Indiana’s offense, and that means convert some damn third downs for a change, for cryin’ out loud (as St. Joe would say unless he knew no outsiders were listening). However, unless it rains again, O’Brien would be wise to let Hackenberg continue to work on his game, airing it out to his plethora of talented receivers to support the running game. Just don’t screw up, kid! (Lousy memory flashback from that Brick Dick game.)
On special teams, shhhhhh, Kickin’ Sam Ficken has sneakily become tops in the B1G. Shhhh. But there’s trouble in River City, because Alex Butterworth still suggggggggggs and Indiana has a decent punt return game. Although this should be a game with very few Penn State punts, I wouldn’t be surprised if a punt return led to an Indiana touchdown.
Turnovers’ll kill ya
Penn State is down in the deep, dark, dank, dusty dungeon of despair as regards turnover average with a -0.8 for the season thus far. Not good. Indiana is a -0.5 — not substantially better. Unless both teams suddenly clean up their acts, add some sloppiness to the stew.
Screwing up on third down’ll kill ya
How’s the great PSU quest for being worst in the FBS in third-down conversions? Well, hey, they’re slipping — at 21.2%, they’re now only fourth worst, with FIU, South Florida, and Miami of Ohio at the bottom of the heap. So much for the best offense in the B1G. Actually, the Nittany Lions’ opponents, Indiana are tied for 23rd in this category, converting third downs a respectable 50% of the time against defenses just as questionable as those Penn State has played against.
Weather’ll kill ya
The weather promises to be steamy Native American summer weather in Indiana, with a predicted high of 84°F/29°C, with a possible thunderstorm. If you don’t like Indiana weather, you know what they say. Wait 15 minutes and it will change. Of course, they say that everywhere about their weather, except maybe Antarctica, where you have to wait six months. Tropical Storm Karen is no threat to this game or to Indiana in general, so I don’t even know why I mentioned her. When’s the last time Indiana actually had a tropical storm? I don’t know. But the actual, real weather should only affect the big guys, who might wither a bit in the heat in the second half.
Who’s Who of the Who-siers
Last year we featured Dallas Mavericks owner and Internet billionaire Mark Cuban as an IU alumnus of note. This year, we present two individuals who have made their marks in different ways.
Our first honoree, Jared Fogle, who once wore size 62 pants, made his mark magically losing a significant amount of weight by eating Subway sandwiches and then becoming the 190 lb poster boy for Subway’s claim that their crap is healthful. Among his distinguished accomplishments as Subway spokesman was speaking at the grand opening of the first Kosher Subway, in Cleveland. Oy! they’re shakin’ in Shaker Heights, already! Additionally, in 2002, Fogle was the subject of the Jared Has Aides episode of South Park.
Our second featured IU alumnus is Jamie Hyneman, world-renowned special effects (FX) guru on every 14 year-old’s favorite Discovery Channel TV show, Mythbusters. While most watch the show to gawk at every geek’s favorite redhead, Kari Byron, Jamie’s quiet leadership and propensity for blowing stuff up is an attraction in itself. I include Kari as the picture for this section because neither Fogle nor Hyneman are worth looking at. Kari graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in film and sculpture from San Francisco State University. She has no connection to Indiana University. So what?
When push comes to shove…
Here we go with the section you’ve been waiting for: The Official Turkey Poop Prognostication. How’s the Turkey doing thus far? Pretty damn close to perfect: 4-0 straight up, 4-0 against the spread, and 3-1 on the over/under. Still, I must present the following disclaimer: I pull these straight out of my ass, so if you gamble and lose your ass, mine ain’t responsible! Got it? Good. Now, let’s see what we kind of damn fool prognostication I can make for this week. You know, Indiana has never beaten Penn State. This week, the betting cognoscenti have set this game as pretty close, with Penn State favored by a field goal. The over/under at the time I’m scratching this out is 65. This suggests a shoot-out, as previously mentioned, ending up 34-31 in favor of the Nittany Lions. Absent a thunderstorm drenching the field, this turkey doesn’t think that’s enough scoring. Do you? I don’t, either. But they’ve got to convert third downs and quit coughing up the oblate spheroid, already, damnit! Another potential stumbling block would be a rogue game plan that didn’t exploit Indiana’s weaknesses, because they’re going to put up points. I think O’Brien might be able to reel himself in for this one. Penn State 48, Indiana 34. Take the damn over!
I’ll be back soon to tell you how well I did, or I’ll shut up if I didn’t do well in predicting this game. No, I won’t. You know me better than that. I take my lumps if I bring them on. Only the scorekeepers I pay off know any different.
*What’s this “kill ya” crap all about, you ask? Well, I’m channeling Howard Cosell this past couple of weeks. Howard used to castigate his Monday Night Football broadcasting partners for their verbal ineptitude, particularly Frank Gifford and Dandy Don Meredith. Gifford was the guy who would vacuously intersperse vapid vagarisms such as “penalties’ll kill ya” or “turnovers’ll kill ya” into his inarticulate commentary.
One of my other favorite passages in Cosell’s books refers to short-lived MNF broadcasting partner O.J. Simpson, about whom Howard wrote, “I thought that a stint on Monday Night Football would improve Simpson’s diction. It didn’t.”
Speaking of sports, this is Turkey Cosell…