How creatively obscure. Husker down/hunker down… Nahhh, doesn’t work for me, either.
The Huskers are coming to town, bringing a 7-3 overall record and a 4-2 conference performance. They’re coming off a 41-28 beat down by Moo U., and they previously had their clocks cleaned by UCLA and Minnesota. So, you’d think they’re beatable, especially with Martinez out indefinitely.
Whited out Beaver Stadium is an intimidating place to play. Advantage Lions.
Last week, they turned the damn ball over five times while Moo U. protected the ball on their end. Increasing one’s negative turnover margin by five has to hurt. Two of those were unforced. Freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong is an interception-throwin’, fumblin’ machine.
With no further discredit meant to Armstrong, the boys must be completely bummed about starting senior quarterback Taylor Martinez being done, having suffered a potentially career ending foot injury. That hurts even thinking about it. They’ll be playing in hostile Beaver Stadium on Senior Day. So, there are plenty of intangibles going against Nebraska.
Speaking of Senior Day, 17 Nittany Lions will be honored as senior warriors who will be playing their final home game. There are some surprises. Coach O’Brien apparently had a little tête-à-tête with a few guys about next year’s eligibility. What went on at those conferences is known only to a select few, but it appears as if the coach is cleaning out some scholarships for the future.
“I’m not going to get into the discussions because those are personal between myself and some of these guys including Garry [Gilliam], Kyle Baublitz, Alex Kenney, those guys basically they sat down with me and they’ve decided to move on to the next stage of their lives next year. They’d like to be introduced on Saturday, so especially Baublitz and Gilliam. So that’s what we decided to do.”
Meanwhile, da coach is trying to get Matt Lehman made eligible for another year. Him, he wants to keep. Yet, he’ll be honored among the departing seniors.
Here’s the list: Baublitz, Blanchard, Butterworth, Carson, Davie, Felder, Gilliam, Gress, Howle, Jones, Kenney, Lehman, Obeng, Shrive, Urschel, Willis, and Zerbe.
Run Forest, Run
Ameer Abdulla is a superb junior speedster who must be corralled for Penn State to have a chance to win this game. Here’s a guy who suffered the criticism of media detractors who told him he couldn’t run against Moo U, so he responded by producing a 100+ yard day against arguably the best run defense in the B1G. Behind the usual, beefy, Nebraska offensive line, yet one that has suffered some media heat this year, Abdulla can be expected to present problems for the thin Penn State defense as the game wears on. Penn State’s 34th overall ranked rushing defense allows 144 ypg, while Nebraska’s rushing offense, ranked #16, puts up 240 yards per game. Last week, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said they would run on Moo U., and they did, for 182 yards. Michigan State has the top ranked run defense in the country, yielding only 57.3 yards per game. How’s that for some clutch running? Eh?
A well planned passing attack that spreads the field might open things up against Penn State, as other teams have found. Nebraska is not a great passing team, with only a 200 yard per game average. Penn State’s improving secondary still gives up more than that per game. One of the keys to this game will be putting pressure on the young Armstrong kid in passing situations while trying to shut down Sheikh Abdulla. That might be a tall order for the PSU defense.
Aside from the serious, season-ending injuries we all know about, Penn State goes into this game relatively healthy. One has to believe that the Lions will focus on the run once again, with ZZ and Belton pretty much salt and pepper, with Akeel Lynch thrown in for a little added spice. The offensive line has come around, too, but don’t expect the same effectiveness against Nebraska as was had against Purdue — the Huskers are only half as bad against the run as are the Boilermakers. Expect some success from the run.
Passing opportunities will exist for the Lions, too, as long as the run is working. This is not a situation in which the Lions need to rely on the pass to get them out of a hole they dig for themselves. If they have to play from behind, they’ll lose this tame. So, a solid run game with a few passes spread around (typically, with eight of them going to #8 “Gimme da Damn Ball” Robinson), coupled with some offensive screwups on Nebraska’s part, could be a winning formula.
I’ll tell you what won’t be a winning formula. Crap like unforced fumbles, ill-advised throws resulting in interceptions, crappy punting, and a coverage unit that would give up 30 return yards to a Pop Warner team. Departing senior Butterworth didn’t have to punt at all against Purdue, so he should be well rested. As for the return team, O’Brien said that he needs to coach them better. That’s BoBspeak for, “they suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuckk!” Third down conversions were finally something to write home about against Purdue, but that’s my point. Put it in perspective. It was against Purdue.
A mistake-free game might well be all the Lions need. But are they capable of that?
Appropriately Named Alumnus of the Week
For this week’s featured opponent’s alumnus, this turkey had to dig deep into a pile of offal. At the bottom of that pile, it wasn’t hard to find the guy I was looking for, as he smelled worse than the rest of it. This week’s opponent’s alumnus of the week is the infamous, notorious, assholatristic Richie Incognito.
You’re probably all aware of Incognito’s recent notoriety, having been suspended indefinitely by the Miami Dolphins after allegedly bullying fellow lineman Jonathan Martin to the extent that he bolted the team. During the investigation it surfaced that Incognito has done some wild crap such as holding offensive line meetings at strip clubs and fining linemen who didn’t show up, as well as requiring junior players to buy $15,000 dinners for their elder peers.
Another incident occurred last year at a celebrity golf tournament, when a drunken Incognito harassed a female volunteer, rubbing her lady bits with a golf club, twerking her from behind, and pouring water in her face. While the volunteer filed a police report with Little Richie failed to apologize, the matter was later settled with the signing of a confidentiality agreement. You know what that means. Yep. $$$
This walking case of ‘roid rage is enough to make one believe that his name is appropriate. It means “unknown.” I wish I hadn’t known about any of this.
In 2002, Incognito became the first freshman offensive lineman to start in the season opener for the Huskers. He was a first-team freshman All-American. However, his career at Nebraska was checkered with incidents both on and off the field. Frequently suspended, he was sent to an anger management program at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka. In his senior season, which began with great expectations, he was shifted to center and was on several trophy watches. However, on September 1, he got into a fight in the locker room and was suspended indefinitely. Incognito responded by withdrawing from school.
After that, he transferred to University of Oregon, where the Ducks dismissed him after only a week. Incognito has failed to meet the conditions that were required of him in order to come to Oregon. Those conditions were not disclosed, but it is thought that one of them was attending more anger management classes.
However, Incognito impressed pro scouts at the NFL Combine and wound up being drafted in the third round by the St. Louis Rams. He would have been drafted higher were it not for the “character flag”.
Incognito played for the Rams until 2009, when he got into more trouble for his temper. He had drawn 38 penalties during that time. Buffalo picked him up off waivers for the balance of the 2009 season, but they did not re-sign him. He then signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins and was later extended by three more.
So, who knows where all this will wind up. No knock on Nebraska. We all have our notorious ones. Sometimes a little schadenfreude is good.
Should be a chilly day at the Big Beave, with a forecast high of 38° and a low of 24° under mostly cloudy skies. Snow flurries and colder weather will be moving into the area. Cold hands mean a warm heart. The 13 mph crosswinds with gusts to 23 might be somewhat troublesome for passers and kickers.
The windup… and the pitch…
Oh, yeah. I have to predict this game. This is getting hard, very hard for the old turkey. The time for the Official Turkey Poop Prognostication is upon us and I’ve been sucking big time. At least I’m 7-3 straight up, which is better than are the Lions. On the other hand, I’m just 5-5 versus the spread and 5-5 on the over/under.
My thoughts have been all over the map on this one. Sure, there’s a chance for the Lions to win if everything happens in their favor. There’s also a chance that Jupiter will fly up my ass.
The way I see it, though, Penn State is in the middle of the pack nationally, not low-middle, not high-middle, but right in the damn middle, as in mediocre. Nebraska is slightly better in all respects, but then again, their star QB is lost to injury, an evening factor. The home field advantage is another evening factor, even though the game is being played in the afternoon, not evening. (That was a joke, son.)
Penn State is favored by two points in this game, with an over/under of 50. That suggests that the gamblers are seeing a PSU victory to the tune of 26-24. Hah!
I normally like Penn State to fail to cover the spread, but this is a negligible one, so yeah, it could be a close game, but no, I don’t think it’s gonna be. Penn State owns the record with meetings in Beaver Stadium, including McCloskey’s Corner. Pelini is going to want to save his job or he’ll be going to parties with his brother. Nebraska has something to play for — a better bowl. Penn State has to play for — the seniors.
Soooooo, I’m going to say that in a turnover prone game with each team committing an equal number of screwups, someone’s going to break this thing wide open. If special teams need to be counted on, Penn State has nothing special. See how I’m vacillating. I can’t decide.
So, I best pull one out of my ass because I’m having a bit of a birthday celebration tonight with Artificially Sweetened and the remaining at home kiddos and I am anxious to get my ass out of this chair and into party mode. This is the same ass about which I have said there’s about the same chance of Penn State winning this game as Jupiter flying up my tailpipe, and I’ll stick with that. Nebraska 27, Penn State 20. Take the under.
I’ll be back with my take on the game after the game sometime. This Turkey is getting ready to lay low for Thanksgiving, so duck and cover is the drill for the week.