The mighty Penn State Nittany Lions (3-0, 1-0 Big Ten) spoiled the Big Ten debut of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-1, 0-1 Big Ten) — barely, by a score of 13-10 — before a record crowd of 53,774 in Piscataway.
It wasn’t the game any of our expert predictors predicted. Nay, far from it. And we weren’t alone in our ineptitude. Most of the media wonks got it wrong, too. Were it not for a desperate 80-yard drive deep into the fourth quarter, the outcome would have gone the other way, and by all rights, it should have.
Miss Teen South Carolina gave a better answer back in 2007 than our distinguished panel did this week. I forget the question.
Penn State played with thumbs up their asses most of the game, not to take any credit from Rutgers, who played an inspired, albeit way far from perfect, game. In particular, vaunted born-again quarterback Gary Nova, who I thought at game’s outset was potential NFL material, got flushed down the toilet, a smack-down that will reverberate through his mind each time he steps up and fondles his center’s nuts from now on. Gary will be intercepted dozens more times before this season ends.
Listen, people, stop this BTPR crap, already! I’ll leave that to juvenile publications like BSD and assorted bigmouths on the teams. Bill Belton, get some damn class, already! Don’t lower yourself to the level of the trash-talking Scarlet O’Haras. Here, we keep things super serious and loftily literary, like talking about thumbs up asses and the Rutgers center’s nuts.
There was only one screwy trick play, a pseudo-playground flea-flicker that failed to become erect. Penn State offensive coordinator John Donovan needs to address this situation with his urologist. Better yet his proctologist, as he seemed to have pulled that one straight out of his ass.
This turkey pores through stats, but in preparing for this game, I missed one glaringly obvious one, now painfully visible in retrospect: Rutgers has led the nation in blocking kicks since 2009! I would have looked like a genius if I had predicted a blocked field goal and a blocked punt! Sam Ficken didn’t have an altogether horrible night, though. Without his two second-half field goals, the game would have belonged to the Scarlet Knights.
And another thing. Big shout-out to the mediocre Penn State secondary and especially former wide receiver Trevor Williams as they intercepted Gary Nova five f*cking times, with Williams snagging two himself. (The others were by Ryan Keiser, Adrian Amos, and Brandon Bell). Who would have predicted that?!?! Some bunch of Carnacs we are! And for God’s sake, why didn’t we predict that the opponents would give PSU the ball five times and PSU would almost lose?? Come on, predictors! Get your acts together, damnit!
I’m awarding Predictor of the Week honors to Mr. No One this week. No One got it right. Not even close.
The Nittany Lion run defense also did a decent job of containing Paul James and Desmon Peoples, limiting Rutgers to 102 yards rushing.
Once again, the running game suuuuuuuuuuucked. Against the Worst Defense in the Big Ten (TWDITBT), it couldn’t get umgetracked. Bill Belton had 36 yards on 14 carries, and the other leading rusher was Christian Hackenberg, who was seen running for his life on several occasions. He had 18.
Yeah, the offensive line sucked at both run blocking and pass protection this time. They aren’t showing the improvement some of you predicted. If I did one of those inane, trite, hackneyed, ridiculous report cards you see everywhere and wish would go away, they’d get an F-.
At 11:33 PM, I received a text message from Toejam, saying “Never a doubt!” You know, for some damn reason, I had the feeling that they would come through in the end, too. They found a way, even though the officials tried to take it away with that holding call. They believed in themselves, and they pulled it off.
A Bill Belton touchdown run — yeah, I said run — provided the winning difference with a minute and a half left in the game. So, a tired running back and a tired offensive line could hang in there and play inspired football for the win. That tells me a lot about this team. They found a way to come from behind and win against UCF and they found a way to do the same against Rutgers. We don’t really need the heart attacks, but it makes for exciting football at the point in the game when The Cave denizens are suffering from uninspired football ennui.
Mundane stats follow, and by this time you’ve already seen them elsewhere, so keep reading just in case I through a joke in somewhere.
Hackenberg threw 44 times and completed 25, for a crappy quarterback rating of 26.9, but that topped Gary Nova’s QBR, which was 22.5, thanks to the 5 INTs. Neither QB threw for a TD (unless you count the one the officials took away from Hackenberg by calling that obvious hold). The receiving corps for Penn State featured Geno Lewis, with six receptions for 109 yards, including a couple of good ones on that game-winning drive. DeSean Hamilton had eight for 104. Jesse James had an off night with one reception for three yards, but had the aforementioned TD reception that got called back. And although Bill Belton didn’t do much as a rusher (aside from scoring the game winner), he had four catches for 52 yards as a receiver.
We also saw the debut of Christian Hackenberg as a punter. ‘Nuff said there. Oy!
I won’t soon forget this game, which is the purpose writing this drivel serves. Given the quantities of C2H5OH I typically consume at The Cave’s gatherings, I need such reinforcement lest the ethanol dismantle the brain cells of my football memory banks such that the details are forever lost.
What I need to see in the future is a running game, pure and simple. This is crucial for wins in the conference. If I don’t see a balanced attack in the forthcoming game against the Minutemen (minute as in tiny, not as in the unit of time), I’ll have a very pessimistic outlook for the Big Ten season. But then, when didn’t I?
Screwups around the Conference
Yet another crappy week for the Big Fourteen. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Indiana got bowled over by BGSU, 45-42; Minnesooda hornily failed to gig the TCU Frogs, 30-7; the non-fighting Illiniweks were carried away by a sled team of Huskies, 44-19; the Mountaineers won the border war with the Turtles, 40-37; the Hawkeys got swept up by the Cyclones, 20-17; and Notre Dame came back to boil the ‘Makers 30-14. Winners in the conference aside from YOUR NITTANY LIONS were tOSU, shutting out Kent State 66-0; Big Blue, shooting down the 0-3 RedHawks, 34-10; and the Cornhuskers, who bullied the 0-3 Fresno State Bulldogs big time, 55-19.
By the way, looking at games played by other PSU opponents, Mizzou clobbered UCF 38-10 and Vandy edged UMass 34-31. Worthy of note as well was East Carolina’s win over Virginia Tech, BC beating USC, and it took the hapless Gators three overtimes to defeat perennial SEC whipping boy Kentucky.
Next week, the opportunities for screwups continue, as Purdue faces the Salukis, Iowa goes under the arm—Pitt!, NWU hosts Western Illinois, Bowling Green continues to terrorize the Big Ten — this week in Madison, the Brick Dick is hosted by Moo U., Mary-land plays at Syracuse, Rutgers gets Navy’s goat, Utah invades the Big House, the Other Spartans come to Minnesooda, Texas State (who?) beats Illinois, Indiana goes down to Missouri in more ways than one, and The U invades corn country in their best Michael Irvin camos.
That’s it for this week. Stay tuned for some more words of wisdom about the Minutemen during the week if I don’t kill myself hiking.
(Hey, and by the way, I’d like comments about the new look of the site. RD has informed me that it is hard on his old eyes. I don’t want it to be hard to read for all eight of my faithful readers although I don’t relish going through all the work it will take to change it again. That having been said, please tell me what you think and if changes are necessary, I’ll get around to them eventually.)