Well, better late than never! This turkey has been busy fixing a broken site since making the upgrade to WordPress 4.0 broke my theme, but enough of that. Let’s get on to (or back to) the Akron game.
On this woeful weekend for Big Ten football, at least the Nittany Lions (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) won, albeit in a sloppy, boring effort, trouncing the Akron Zips (1-1, 0-1 MAC) 21-3 before an announced crowd of 97,354 at Beaver Stadium.
K. John gets a Nittany Turkey shout-out for being the best predictor on our panel of savants this week. He predicted 21-10. Although the Zips didn’t quite get that touchdown he thought they would, it was the low-scoring game he expected and he got the PSU points total correct.
Many of you expected that Penn State would use this game to tune up and establish the run. Well, they tried. In the end, they did top 100 yards rushing, but they tripled that in passing. Accordingly, the tune up was all but cacophonous, as it were. Apparently, Franklin is reading our comments, for he said this in his post-game spiel:
We need to improve the running game. There’s no doubt about it. We need to get that going.
Christian Hackenberg looked as if he must have had too much Irish cheer or perhaps jet lag, but whatever it was, it was a mediocre day for him. At times, he looked out of sync. His numbers were 22-36 for 319 yards with three touchdowns — but also with his two obligatory interceptions on bone-headed throws.
In all, the Nittany Lions turned it over three times. Crappy performance on a day on which weather was no factor.
Akeel Lynch managed to be the leading rusher with 45 yards, followed by Bill Belton with 36. Geno Lewis was the go-to guy for Hackenberg with six receptions for 98 yards. DeSean Hamilton had seven for 69. But Jesse James was the money guy, scoring two touchdowns on two receptions. Ka-ching!
Sam Ficken kicked three extra points, so he was perfect for the day, although he launched one kickoff over the sideline prior to crossing the goal line. In other special teams news, ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a punter. Freshman Chris Gulla punted five times for an average of 48.8 yards with a long of 53. Yeah, he punted five times. Against Akron. Harrumph!
No, the offensive line hasn’t yet shown that it can successfully run block. But at least they did a halfway decent job of protecting Hackenberg during passing plays. Alas, with Hack having an off-day, it didn’t matter much, other than keeping the Hackster out of the whirlpool after the game.
The secondary? I dunno. They seemed to keep Kyle Pohl from hitting deep receivers. The longest passing play of the day was good for only 23 yards. The Zips wound up with 208 yards passing.
But the front seven did their job, allowing only 2.8 yards per rush, a number that Woody and Bo would consider inadequate, but a bit better than Penn State was doing prior to the last couple plays of the third quarter. Akron rushed for only 69 yards against the PSU defense. Good job, but guys, it’s Akron.
I really think they’re still in pre-season mode, but like it or not, the Big Ten season starts this Saturday with the Rutgers game. While many of you counted this as a win in your pre-season picks, I’ve got to say beware the ides of September.
Now that the bowl ban is lifted, the Toilet Bowl in Kohler, Wisconsin is in play. With a couple of breaks, who knows?
The Big Ten Suuuuuuuucks!
But seriously, folks, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is delusional after this disastrous weekend for the conference, with several high profile losses to non-conference opponents. Michigan suffered a shillelagh beat-down shutout at the behest of the Fighting Irish, Moo U. was summarily cowed by the Ducks, and Ohio State was gobbled up by my bird-brained cousins, the Hokies. So, what else could Delany do but issue a statement that the Big Ten could still have a team representing the conference in the Final Four at season’s end? Yeah, right, Jim. Dream on! This weekend was butt ugly. Other Big Ten schools going down the tubes to extraconferential opponents were Purdue (of course), who lost to Central Michigan, and Northwestern, a loser to Northern Illinois. Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota, Maryland, and Iowa, all had close calls with cream puff opponents. The Ol’ Big Ten she ain’t what she used to be! Nevertheless, Dear Old State survived Saturday unscathed, averting the cupcake calamity this non-hokie turkey had predicted.
I’ll be back later in the week with a preview and a prediction for the Rutgers game. In the meanwhile, back to blog fixes!