Having watched some of the Purdue vs Illinois game prior to ours, I was muttering that anything had to be better than that, and our game would certainly be, and how could two teams like Illinois and Purdue play like neither wanted to win when what was at stake would be the futility crown for the 2013 B1G season and this, that, and the other thing.
Well, although the same brand of futility was not associated with our game, at times it seemed that each of the combatants wanted to hand the game to the opposition. Ineptitude being pervasive, neither achieved success in that pursuit until overtime. In the end, Nebraska (8-3, 5-2 B1G) prevailed over Penn State (6-5, 3-4 B1G) 23-20.
Recalling the bracketing effect exhibited in the comedy of errors against Minnesota two weeks ago, this time the bracketer was Sam Ficken, who missed an extra point in the first quarter that meant the difference between a Penn State win in regulation, and a missed field goal in overtime that cost the game. Oy vey!
It’s not that everything in-between was inept, but the day was replete with dropped passes, turnovers, and general screwups on both sides. Although Penn State won the turnover battle with a positive margin of one, the Lions returned to their crappy third down performance, converting only two of 14. Of course, not to be outdone, Nebraska was even crappier, with three of seventeen.
The similarities between two inept performances carry through right on down the line. Not that it all was inept, man. PSU’s leading rusher, Zach Zwinak, chalked up 149 yards, while Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah gained 147 on the ground. Bill Belton was ill, looking forlorn in his hoodie on the sidelines with a face that broadcast, “I sick.” (Several Lions were seen with bandaids on their arms, perhaps immunized against whatever Belton had.) Nebraska’s starting freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong was pulled early by Bo Pelini, and his replacement, senior Ron Kellogg III went 20-34 for 191 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Christian Hackenberg passed 33 times, completing 16 for 217 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Several dropped passes by normally reliable receivers like Geno Lewis and Kyle Carter, along with the increasingly unreliable Brandon Felder, along with some errant throws by Hacky, made it clear that the offense was struggling.
The run, however, was reliable, and the offensive line was moving the somewhat maligned Nebraska defensive front around for Mr. Zwinak, so it wuddn’t all bad. Allen “Gimme da Damn Ball” Robinson caught eight for 106 yards. I think his contract states that he must get eight receptions per game or his number ain’t eight. Time of possession favored Penn State by over a minute. So, no, it wasn’t all bad. The game was actually winnable. I didn’t think it would be.
Nebraska tried to give it away whenever they could, but the mighty Nittany Lions, principled as they are and conditioned by the St. Joe tradition, did not accept the gifts, and instead, attempted to return the favor. Even though the Huskers were penalized seven times for 54 yards while the Lions were nailed only three times for 25, I’d say the gift of a missed extra point and a missed easy field goal more than made up for it.
The defense played pretty well, except that they were manhandled by the Nebraska run. No big surprise there, as Nebraska had beaten up on Moo U.’s vaunted run defense.
Was it the weather? Nah.
OK, anyhow, one game to go and it’ll be a wrap on this season. If you care about how I’ve done guiding you in your gambling pursuits, I’m 8-3 straight up, 6-5 against the spread, and 6-5 on the over/under. So listen to me at your own risk. Better yet, don’t gamble.
Meanwhile, our Übersanguinarian — you know who you are — is admiring the Lions’ performance in yet another victory that was snatched from them by the cheaters on the other side. They’re 10-1 and would be going to the Rose Bowl if it weren’t for the dirty Communist plot engineered by Komisar Mark Emmert and Field Marshal Jim Delany. Those damn officials moved the goal posts just as Ficken was kicken’.
It turns out that I’m safe from a possible intra-rectal Jupiter insertion. Before the game, I had said that these were two middle-of-the-pack Big Ten teams, but Nebraska was just better enough to win. Perhaps with Taylor Martinez they would have been a lot better. The spread had dropped to one point at kickoff time, which means that on a neutral field Nebraska would have been favored by two. Still pretty damn even, which is how they played, but mistakes’ll killya every time.
The Turkey will be back later in this holiday week to predict and preview the Wisconsin game. In the meanwhile, if we don’t touch bases before this turkey heads to the mattresses to avoid the butcher block, listen to those Chick-Fil-A cows and EAT MOR CHIKN! Spare a turkey this Thanksgiving. If you can’t, you’re forgiven — just come back and read this turkey.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!