This article’s title doesn’t mean anything to more than a handful of people, and those people are quite a handful at that. OK, so let me add an asterisk for anyone else who cares to know.* Suffice to say that among other, more obscure pseudo-factoids, the title is an allusion to the colors of the Nittany Lions’ opponents this week, the Scarlet and Gray Ohio State Buckeyes.
And, look, Turkey fans and foes, this is my best chance to blow off steam for the whole damn year, except for what I’ll do when we have another chance to eschew possession of the Land Grant Trophy, so I’m going to be doing some of my finest antisanguinarian ranting here. You can skip to the prediction if you want, but you’ll be missing a helluvan opportunity to get pissed off in preparation for this big damn game!
A “whited-out” Beaver Stadium will be the venue for this meeting of the #13 Buckeyes (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten/Fourteen) and the mighty Penn State Nittany Lions (4-2, 1-2). Yes, a “white-out” has been declared. No, it won’t help.
OSU’s most recent outing was a 56-17 laugher over Rutgers, enjoyed by 106,795 semi-comatose, laughing fans in the Horseshoe. It was a ridiculous game in which the Buckeyes sliced through the other scarlet guys’ defense like a hot knife through butta, and the Knights did indeed take it in the butt-a. Amassing 585 all-purpose yards and 31 first downs, there was no stopping the Buckeyes.
In their only other Big 10/14 outing, the Bucks similarly dominated Maryland, like to the tune of 52-24. In that game, they rolled up 533 yards in a balanced effort. Prior to that game, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer had put the troops to bed at 9 p.m. on Friday in an attempt to eradicate “that dullard look coming out of the locker room.” See, it was a noon start in a venue they had never seen. Sound familiar?
Well, at least this game doesn’t start at noon and it’s on home turf. But “that dullard look” has been prevalent in Penn State’s efforts this year. Maybe PSU head coach Jimmy Franklin ought to put the boys to bed early on Friday night, too, just for the hell of it. Maybe he ought to put offensive coordinator Johnny Donovan to bed early, too, and hope for the Rip Van Winkle effect. Try something, anything! Maybe, just maybe, the Nittany Lions might score a point or two.
Penn State, as you know, is coming off a “disappointing” 18-13 loss to Michigan. All the legitimate media and upstart blogs are calling it that. Why is it disappointing? In order to be disappointed, one has to have expectations, and this Turkey expects nothing much from this team in league competition this year. Toilet Bowl eligibility is the best we can hope for, and it’s sure cold in Kohler in December. Many of us have already flushed this season, leading to the consummate meaningless and trite dismissal, “It is what it is.”
Yeah, the Lions won one Big Ten game, already. Were it not for an off-day interceptionwise for the Magnanimous Mr. Nova of Piscataway, that one would have gone the other way, too. Northwestern, no great shakes themselves, left no doubt about the suckage of this Penn State team with a Homecoming embarrassment — something we should have expected based on the dearth of talent related to the scholarship reductions and other NCAA sanctions. Coulda, woulda, shoulda won against Michigan? Yeah, right, but look at the scoreboard, baby! Another loss, this one to one of the worst teams in the Big Ten. (But they’re still MICHIGAN, man, so, like almost winning is like, something, man! Oh, and we saved Michigan Man Brady Hoke‘s ass for yet one more week.) So, what expectations can we possibly have for this team?
Set your sights low so you won’t be disappointed.
Don’t stop me, I’m on a roll!
Games like this one expose weaknesses one didn’t think one had, and sometimes, they reveal strengths one thought were nonexistent. I’m anxious to see some of the latter, but I cringe at the thought of the former.
Let’s start with the vaunted PSU defense. The run defense has been great; the pass defense, mediocre. Yet, Sanguinarians and PSU Homeys continue to refer to it as “The Defense” and consistently laud its greatness throughout.
Being the hypercritical (albeit sometimes hypocritical) analyst, I have to temper the euphoria of some sparkling defensive stats with the reality of its dubious accomplishments. The combined record of the opponents thus far this season is 21-21, so what the defense has faced hasn’t been prime meat by any stretch of the imagination. They’ve been dining on utility grade scraps.
OK, so let me state this more bluntly. Penn State hasn’t yet played anybody. So, how the hell can you rate the defense so highly without it having been tested?
This will be a test, and the defense will fail it.
Yeah, that’s what I said.
The only doubts in my mind involve whether the Buckeyes’ freshman quarterback J. T. Barrett will remain poised in a decidedly hostile, whited-out, sellout setting.
The strengths he has exhibited thus far play into the weakness of the PSU defense, and yes, it does have some. Barrett leads the Big Ten/Fourteen in Pass Efficiency and Total Offense, while he is second to Connor Cook of Moo U. in Passing Average Per Game. He is also fourth in the BT14 in scoring, behind the usual suspects Abdullah, Gordon, and Weisman. But there’s that thing about the big, hostile crowd. His only road effort in conference play thus far was against Maryland in a stadium with fewer than half the asses seated than there will be where he will play on Saturday night. All eyes are on you, J. T.!
Fortunately for Barrett, the Penn State defensive secondary is mediocre, and the pass rush has not been great. Ranking 7th in the conference in Pass Defense, the PSU defense has allowed an average of 214 yards per game passing against pussies ranked 4th, 9th, and 12th in passing offense. Its best (luckiest) game was against Rutgers, the 4th ranked passing offense, but that was the game in which the aforementioned Gary “Turn” Nova handed them five gift interceptions, which I continue to discount as a flucking fuke. Ohio State ranks 5th in pass offense and tops the conference in pass efficiency. (OK, so they’ve only played newbies Maryland and Rutgers in the conference — I’ll give you that.)
Through six games, Ohio State ranks 34th overall in passing offense versus Penn State’s 32nd. The difference is that Ohio State has a running game, too, whereas Penn State’s offense is monodimensionalisticalized. (I invent neologisms as I go along, not only to amuse myself, but also to emphasize my point, which I probably screw up because you sit there scratching your head asking yourself, “What the fuck did he just say?” Well, as the old saying goes: If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit! But I digress…)
The Buckeyes are 4th overall in the NCAA in scoring offense and 9th in total offense. Playing into the supposed strength of the Penn State defense, they rank 16th in rushing. So wtf have they got for a rushing game, you ask?
They have sophomore Zeke Elliot, to whom they frequently throw the ball as well. He had 69 yards against Rutgers and 139 versus Maryland. Butbutbut, J.T. Barrett is also a formidable runner, with 107 and 71 yards on the ground in those two games, respectively. He seems to be settling into his all-purpose role at OSU. They play behind a monofreshmaniac offensive line averaging 305 lbs. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Oh, sure, Mike Hull and the Penn State front seven will make some stops. They’re pretty damn good. And J.T. Barrett is no Braxton Miller — not quite yet, anyway, but the gap is closing.
Screw the stats!
I guess I dwell too much on stats, but everybody needs something to fall back on when they want to substantiate a preconceived notion of what will happen. And man, I don’t think what will happen will be very pretty.
With the usual first-quarter let-down accompanied by that dullard look, Penn State will begin the foot-shooting early, allowing OSU to grab a quick 14 points, which will dampen the crowd, turning their whited-out asses blue. Ohio State DE Joey Bosa will be in Christian Hackenberg‘s face (and he will be on his ass) most of the night, furthering the sophomore’s frustrations and thwarting any possibility of a comeback. The foot-shooting will continue when Hack gets lucky on a play or two and gets the ball into the hands of DaeSean Hamilton (or maybe even the mysteriously vanished Geno Lewis) in the scarlet zone, but the usual crappy red-zone play calling and execution will reduce the scoring to whatever Sam Ficken is capable of producing.
Urban Meyer will have his boys ready for this game. They have a lot to gain here. It’s a prime-time match-up and they’re gunning for restored credibility after the early loss to Vagina Tech. They’re shooting for the Big Ten/Fourteen record of 20 straight regular season wins (kind of phony because they lost to Moo U. in the championship game). They play Moo U. in two weeks, so the big danger would be looking past Penn State to the pastures and ghettos of East Lansing. Fat chance! Urban Meyer is headed to the College Football Hall of Fame, whether you like it or not. There will be no dullard look. Besides, he has the best position coach in all of football, Larry Johnson, Sr., who knows too much about Penn State, right by his side. They’ll be ready.
I haven’t seen much that I like about the Penn State offense this year, other than the beleaguered Christian Hackenberg. One has to wonder whether he’ll have the fortitude and perseverance not to transfer out of Happy Valley to someplace where he can play behind a competent offensive line. Speaking of offensive lines, I note that überyinzer Miles Dieffenbach has been working out but still does not appear on the aptly named depth chart. Some Sanguinarians think he’ll be the salvation of the O-line and PSU when he returns. This turkey thinks the O-line cannot be saved by one converted guard. The Buckeyes have 10 sacks in six games thus far, thanks to the aforementioned Mr. Bosa, and Penn State has allowed 20 in the same number of games. Hackenberg will be running for his life most of the game, and will thus be prone to making mistakes.
So, count on a few sacks and an interception or three, and maybe a couple of them for pick-sixes. (And that’s not where the turnovers will end. The Lions will cough up at least one on the ground at an inopportune time.)
No knock on the Hackster, but he won’t be able to so much as wipe his ass against Ohio State. Blame the sanctions for sticking us fans with an offensive line that to say the least has caused much consternation and at its worst has made us a national laughingstock.
What running game?
(this space intentionally left blank)
I’m not done yet!
Penn State’s special teams are atrocious, with the only bright spot being Sam Ficken’s consistency, which took a few years to develop. I can foresee at least one punt return for a TD by tOSU. Penn State will be doing a lot of punting, and at punting they do so badly suck — last in the conference with a net average of 29.6 yards per game. Bleeeeeeeccccccccccccccccccchhhhhhhh! Kickoff coverage sucks, too. They’re 13th out of 14 there. Oy vay! The only merciful thing about the latter is that they sure as hell won’t be doing much kicking off in this game. Well, hell, they have to kick off at least once, and I hope to hell that it isn’t run back for a TD!
Oh, and the Nittany Lions have been flat-out frickin’ awful in games following bye weeks. Why assume that this string of failures is going to be interrupted by a miraculous performance here?
How’s da wedda?
(So happy to-geth-er, ba-bum-bum-bum…)
[Cue Keith Jackson voice.] It’s a beautiful football evening in Happy Valley, clear, with a bit of a fall chill in the air. The forecast high is 58° with a low of 42°, absolutely perfect weather for this white-out blowout under the lights of rocking and rollicking Beaver Stadium. Yes, indeedy doody, we’re expecting a real barn-burner here tonight, because arsonistic Nittany Lions fans will feel like burning a few barns after being circumcised by the lads in scarlet and gray.
But no, the weather will not be a factor for either team, although the forecast low humidity should make barn burning all the more viable.
Distinguished Alumnus (does anyone read this shit?)
Here is where I can have some macabre fun and maybe exact some revenge for the expected beat-down. Today’s opponent’s distinguished alumnus is a serial killer, alcoholic, sexual deviant, necrophiliac, and borderline personality disorder case named Jeffrey Dahmer, who was famous for cannibalizing his victims. He attended Ohio State for only one term, but what the hell. When you don’t have the goods on the field, you have to find other ways to disparage your opponent, as it were.
Dahmer’s story is way too gruesome and over the top to publish here. If you want the details, check out Wikipedia.
Fortunately for the rest of the world, Dahmer paid the ultimate price for his murdering ways although the price was no compensation for the seventeen lives he snuffed out. Having been convicted of fifteen counts of murder in Wisconsin and another in Ohio, he was given sixteen consecutive life sentences. At first, he was kept in solitary confinement to protect him from other inmates, who don’t take kindly to pervs like Jeff, but eventually, while unsupervised, Dahmer had the shit kicked out of him and his head bashed in by a fellow inmate.
That brings us to what you skipped all the bullshit above to read: The Official Turkey Poop Prediction. But if you had read it, you wouldn’t have had the joy of anticipation. On the other hand, you knew what it was going to be all along. I even set it in bold below so you won’t even have to read my intervening bullshit, even.
The pre-season consensus was unanimous to a man on this one. Not a single, solitary one of the Turkey’s Distinguished Panel of Experts believed that the Nittany Lions would escape this one with a win. Is there a shred of optimism out there? If so, I want to hear about it. I see this one getting ugly fast, maybe not last-year-ugly, but ugly enough. Penn State has scored only two touchdowns in Big Ten/Fourteen play thus far, and those were against less than credible defenses. They will not improve that total this week. Ohio State is a 13.5 point favorite, with an over/under of 52, suggesting a 34-18 game or thereabouts. It’s hard to think that one could lose betting on PSU and taking the points, but based on what I’ve seen so far, I wouldn’t touch that bet with a fork! How can this offense score 18 points without spiking the Buckeye’s drinking fountain with LSD or something. (Then, you’d sure as hell get that dullard look.) Ohio State 48, Penn State 6. Take the over, and it won’t be because of PSU’s offensive production, either.
I’ll be back sometime with my post-game synopsis, in which I’ll either be wiping egg off my face or more likely, expressing some disdainfully prosaic thoughts.
*The title for this week’s tilt (tilt title — type that 10 times real fast) is an obscure reference to a texted retort Artificially Sweetened sent to me that AT&T repeated about 200 times, like it got stuck in the network and couldn’t get flushed out. I had made a snide comment relating to a TV promo involving Scarlett Johanson as we were watching TV together via Slingbox link. AS’s response was delayed, as AT&T is frequently wont to do with our texts. When it eventually came through, everything she sent for a while was translated by the network to “Who is Scarlet?” It was at first frustrating, then annoying, and finally very amusing. So the theme this week is, “Who is Scarlet?”
You didn’t really need to know that.