Where were those Badgers who had made Thanksgiving mincemeat out of the Big Ten? Huh? Were they out in a field somewhere multiplying, along with the mushrooms and snakes? Where the hell were they yesterday when they wound up being throttled by the Nittany Lions 31-24? Man, they had everything going for them — home field, BCS opportunities, huge point spread (25 points???) — but somehow they managed to look more like a struggling underdog out there. With nothing to lose or to gain, Penn State outplayed them and emerged victorious. All hail the mighty Lions!
For a change, turnover margin was decidedly on Penn State’s side, with the good guys intercepting Joel Stave three times. Two of those picks led to touchdowns. And although erratic kicking and a veritable of plethora of motion penalties told the story of a less than perfect effort by the Lions, they were able to make the big plays and ultimately prevail.
Apparently overly impressed with themselves, with the point spread, and with the pre-game hype that marginalized the Nittany Lions, Wisconsin came out flat and stayed flat the entire game. They knew Penn State would try to stuff the run, loading up the box, but their attempts to find alternatives revealed a less than competent passing game. When Stave was not being intercepted or making just plain crappy throws, his receivers were dropping catchable balls. He made 29 of 52 passes for 339 yards, three TDs, and three INTs. Messrs. Gordon and White combined for 147 yards on the ground.
Christian Hackenberg had a much better day, his best so far as a Nittany Lion, completing 21 of 30, with four TDs and no INTs. He also had exactly 339 yards. Zach Zwinak was given the vast preponderance of the running chores, carrying 22 times for 115 yards. Bill “I Sick” Belton had only three carries for seven yards. Back to da passing, Hacky spread the ball around to his cadre of receivers, which by the way did not include the previously categorized as increasingly unreliable Brandon “Don’t Call Me Moseby” Felder, who is presently in this turkey’s doghouse. This time, the rookies did well, giving us some warm feelings about the Nittany Lions’ future, with Geno Lewis catching three for 91 yards and two TDs, and Adam Breneman catching three for 78 yards and a TD. Allen “Gimme da Damn Ball” Robinson got his contractually obligated eight receptions, once again matching his uniform number. That’s the way it has to be. It is so written. Amen.
This turkey is impressed with a team that doesn’t quit. With nothing to play for but pride, they marched into Camp Randall and dismantled the overstuffed, overrated Badgers, who looked off-kilter from the opening kickoff right on through the rest of the game. No one — and I mean no one — saw this coming! I personally did not believe that the Nittany Lions could pull off a winning record this year, and yet, here they are finishing up at 7-5. Great job, guys! Don’t let the Sanguinarians’ displeasure with anything less than an 11-1 season daunt your overachieving asses. And to the football superstitionalists and their numerologist cousins, I guess you were right about this one!
So does this mean that the Sanguinarians will be setting up unreal expectations for next season? Perhaps so, because that is the nature of a Sanguinarian, but so I won’t dwell on that for a while. So this is a win to feel good about, so let’s just feel good for a while, savor it, and enjoy the feeling, so… After all, it’s a lonnnnnnnng off-season, during which it is a helluva lot be’-er to walk around with a sweet taste of victory than a bi’-er pill of defeat. Good show, guys!
Given all they were up against again this year without even considering some devastating injuries, 7-5 is worthy of a celebration. Throw in the injuries and it’s damn near a miracle.
Crazy-ass games abounded during this rivalry week! FSU, as expected, manhandled the toothless Gators, who finished the season with their crappiest season since 1979. Hell, Charley Pell was the coach back then and they finished 0-10-1. The Seminoles will play for the ACC championship next week against a crazy-ass, unlikely opponent, Duke.
Then, there was the crazy-ass Ohio State vs Michigan game with the crazy-ass decision to go for two in the waning seconds when a kick would have tied it. Michigan, I suppose, had nothing to lose by going for the win, but Paul Somerville and the statgeeks will tell you that their odds would have been slightly better in overtime than going for two. So, they lost 42-41. Bummer, because that means OSU is undefeated and will likely get their asses kicked by FSU in the SSMNC game, if things play out as expected. However, Moo U. could be spoilers next week in the B1G championship game in Indianapolis. I’ll be rooting for them.
Of course, you all know about the crazy-ass finish to the Iron Bowl, with Nick Saban deciding to kick a long field goal instead of playing it safe on fourth down, and said crazy-ass long field goal missing and returned the length of the field by Auburn for the win. Yeah, earlier in the day Lee Corso had put on the elephant head but guest predictor Charles Barkley — the erstwhile Round Mound of Rebound of Auburn — correctly predicted that the Tigers would emerge victorious. They’ll face Mizzou in the SEC championship next week, after those other Tigers pissed off the vaunted asshole Johnny Manziel in their own crazy-ass game. The LSU Tigers, the Grambling Tigers and the Princeton Tigers can only sit home and watch, although the boys with the striped socks actually did win the Ivy League. The Clemson Tigers, who lost to South Carolina, will be wondering what might have been, as their season evaporated before their very eyes. So OK, enough already with the Tigers.
I want to thank youse guys, the readers, for bearing my bullshit for another great season of Penn State football. Every week I demonstrate how little I know about the subject. My job is to get the conversation started and you make me look good by taking that ball and running with it, making the world a better place. So, special thanks to those who write copious comments: BigAl, jd, Joe, K. John and others too numerous to mention; and equally special thanks to the silent readers who keep coming back for more. I know who some of you are, but from the hit counts I know there are more of you out there. Whether you join in the fray or just sit back and watch the action, I am flattered that you spend some of your valuable time here. Thank you all for a fine season and a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you! (And Happy Hanukkah to you Landsmen and Happy Holidays to you atheists, etc., etc., political correctness, you know.)