The #70 Temple Hooters (5-4, 3-3 AAC) come to Beaver Stadium to face the resurgent mighty #47 Penn State Nittany Lions (5-4, 2-4 Big Ten) in a battle of titans the likes of which American football has not heretofore seen.* Chances are, after seeing this one, no one will ever want to see another, but I digress. Temple is coming off a heartbreaking, ball breaking 16-13 loss to Memphis, while as you all undoubtedly know, Penn State is poised for greatness, having just beaten off a challenge from the worst team in the Big Ten by the miraculously TCU-like score of 13-7. (Hey, don’t knock it. The Ravens and Steelers, for example, have played some mighty good 13-7 games! And it sure beats 6-4!!!)
So, what do we have to look forward to here in this clash of titans, you ask? Vell, I’ll tellya. Oy, vay! Foist of all, the mighty Nittany Lions can become bowl eligible here should they somehow pull off the victory. And Temple? Well, hey, I think everyone in the AAC is 5-4, so maybe they could do something to be different. Ya nevah know! They’re riding in the middle of the pack with a 3-3 conference record, but that sure as hell beats 2-4, right PSU?
If I’m Penn State, I get up for this game like I just took a whole bottle of Viagra®.†
Alright, I’ll tellya. It’s not just bowl eligibility; it’s the season. It’s respectability. It’s for what happens when life is over and the Rapture happens. It’s for God and Country. It’s for duty and humanity!
I’m trying to think, but nothing happens! —The Three Stooges
However, that’s all a crock of shit, because this promises to be another crappy game. Yes, another noon start on ESPN2 means another slow start. At least it isn’t on the road, but the home crowd doesn’t show up at the crack of noon for these crapfests, anyway, so it doesn’t much matter. One early Temple touchdown (scored by the defense, of course) will put those who do arrive “early” right to sleep and they won’t be heard from until after the first 12 beers at the ‘Skeller. Temple fans won’t brave the cold to make the trek halfway across the state for this snoozer. Yawwwwwwwwwwwwnnnnn!
I think people are finally getting the message about this Penn State offense. I did something I don’t usually do: I peeked. Looking at the predictions in BWI was enlightening. They’re starting to get it. Other than publisher Phil Grosz who usually has his head completely up his ass, the predictions called for 16, 17, 13, and 17 points scored by PSU. Phil thought they would score 24. Jesus, Phil!
Here’s a quote from one of the BWI predictors, Matt Herb:
Whatever was hindering the offensive line earlier this year was apparently contagious, because hardly anyone is doing well on that side of the ball right now.
Yeah, no shit, Sherlock!
This pairing of teams used to be a perennial mismatch, with Penn State dominating the all-time series 38-3-1. Mighty Penn State lose to Temple? Nahhhhhhhh. Can’t happen.
Remember Maryland? Yeah, it could happen. Remember Rutgers? Yeah, it could happen. This year’s offense sucks that badly. The gap has narrowed measurably. Let’s not take this one for granted, dude.
Neither team has a ground game. Both have offensive lines that suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. But where Temple shines is in its defense forcing turnovers. That plays right into Penn State’s offensive offense’s penchant for giving up the ball. So, we’re likely to see two defenses scoring some points or at least setting up scores, but the more likely beneficiary of that kind of shenanigan is Temple.
Not Too Bad Defense
Temple has a decent pass defense. It’s allowing 200 yards per game. Penn State’s once prolific passing offense has been withering as the season progresses. It’s ranked artificially high due to some early success against the cupcakes, but it’s sinking fast along with Christian Hackenberg‘s mood. So, I’m not looking for any redemption of the passing offense here. No run, no pass — no shit? Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Temple won’t be able to do much against the Penn State defense. This is not to say that sophomore Temple QB P. J. Walker isn’t a decent passer. He is, and his completion percentage is better than Hack’s. They’ve got some injuries on the receiving crew, including their stud receiver Jalen Fitzpatrick, who is questionable for this game. Not that Penn State has a great secondary or anything, but Walker, missing his primary target, might be somewhat curtailed.
Temple is even worse than Penn State when it comes to red zone offense. Their percentage is 69.7% vs. Penn State’s merely awful 80.6%. And that’s why I think it will be the defenses that do the scoring here. Hello, 6-4!!! We might just approach that decade-old benchmark in futility.
Special Teams’ll Killya!
When we get to special teams, we have to think about Sam Ficken‘s penchant for getting blocked (four times this year) and Temple’s penchant for blocking kicks. Temple is tied for fifth in the nation with four blocks in nine games, while Penn State is tied for 120th with four kicks having been blocked in nine games. Something’s gotta give! Ficken better get his balls in the air quickly! (Take that however you wish.)
As for punting, you know how badly Penn State suuuuuuuuuuuuucks! Two walk-on freshman punters, man. Whattya expect? But guess what? Temple ranks first in the nation in blocked punts. Yeah, you heard me right. They’ve blocked three of their opponents’ 51 punts in nine games to lead the entire FBS. What’s that you say? It’s the AAC? Uh huh. Keep thinking that way. You, like those big-ass crocodiles, are in de Nile. But they’re averaging only 35.8 net yards per punt vs. Penn State’s mighty 34.4 (good for 111th in the country). Two sucky punting teams, but the difference is in the Temple defense. Penn State’s offensive line and Temple’s blockophilia is a bad combination. Beware!
Penn State ranks 84th in turnovers lost, with six fumbles and twelve interceptions for a total of eighteen. Oops. That sucks, especially when you note that Temple ranks 7th in the FBS at takeaways, with 25, of which seventeen were fumble recoveries and eight were interceptions. Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch, I’m talking to you here. Protect the damn ball! You too, Hack! You’re out of touch. This is a defense that is serious about forcing turnovers, so don’t be in de Nile, damnit! Do you hear me? Private Eyes Are Watching You!
Da BROADcast Crew
Yea, verily, another noon start on ESPN2 means that we get da broad: Beth Mowins. She’s a Maneater. This turkey has to reluctantly concede that she ain’t too shabby an announcer. She’s one helluva lot better than Pam Ward (She’s Gone!) ever was, even in her wildest wet dream, but I digress. Mowins is joined by analyst Joey Galloway and sideline blonde wannabe Paul Carcaterra. He’s a Rich Girl.
Collllllllllld. The high is going to be 39º, but it’s a wet cold, with snow showers having been forecast for today and Friday. The so-called RealFeel® temperature, courtesy of AccuWeather’s own former PSU BoT Member Joel Myers, is 29º, but remember, it’s a noon start, so it will feel a lot colder than that, and the ball will feel like a boulder in the unsure hands of the Penn State offense. Plus, you know how when it’s cold and people have gloves on how their applause sounds sirrisly muffled? Yeah, that’ll add to the general ennui of this snoozefest. I Can’t Go for That (no can do). Sirrusly.
Distinguished Alumni of the Week
If you haven’t figured it out from the veiled references to their hit songs I sprinkled throughout the above commentary to alleviate my boredom, Daryl Hall and John Oates are our alumni of the week. Hall & Oates met at Temple, where they encountered each other in a fight at a dance when Daryl was a senior and John was a freshman. They played music together at Temple until Oates transferred to another school.
Hall had been recording music since his high school days and he worked as a session musician as well as forming a vocal group called the Temptones while at Temple, a harmonic act that was successful in vocal competitions and recorded singles with Arctic records. They performed at the Uptown Theater in Philly, where Hall formed creative affiliations with such artists as Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, and many other R&B acts of the 1960s.
Hall dropped out of Temple in 1968 and the following year got together with Oates. Hall had been recording singles covering other artists, which maintained his presence in the music industry, leading to the first recording contract for the duo in 1972.
From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, Hall & Oates scored six U.S. Number One singles, including “Rich Girl”, “Kiss on My List”, “Private Eyes”, “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)”, “Maneater”, and “Out of Touch”. They had six multi-platinum albums.
Daryl hates deer and rabbits, prompted by his career-threatening bout with Lyme Disease. He continues recording and performing to this day, as does Oates.
Hall & Oates were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame this year.
It’s time for that for which you’ve been awaiting for which. Parse that sentence, willya! Anyhow, what I mean to say here is that it is time once again for that great feature of this weekly column, the Official Turkey Poop Prediction. Back at the beginning of the season, every one of our crack Panel of Expert Prediculators chose Penn State to defeat the Hooters. That was then and this is now. No one had any idea how crappily this season would play out at that point, as evidenced by their consensus aggregate total final record prediction of 8-3-1, with a low of 6-6 and a high of 10-2. We’ll wind up on the low side this season, although 7-5 is certainly plausible. In this game, we’re looking at a current spread of 11.5 in favor of Penn State, which I think is an overlay, and an over/under of 39. (The gamblers are slowly reaching the dawn of reality, too.) This suggests a final score of something like 26-13 in favor of Penn State. Cold hands, fumbles, noon start, and the usual bullshit will conspire to make this another frustration filled viewing experience with Penn State coming out on top, just barely, while not covering the spread. I like Sweet 16. We didn’t quite get there last week, so we’ll try again. Temple lost 16-13 last week, so that sounds good enough for me. Both defenses score seven points and we wind up with Penn State 16, Temple 13. Take the under.
I’ll be back after the game with a recap, if I’m not completely anesthetized by it. The forthcoming week, which includes this turkey’s birthday (an old turkey, indeed, and turkeys have to be pretty damn careful this time of year), might also see the resurgence of the famous “Laser Focus” series, as the NCAA crap the courts are examining now is just all but too tempting. (I know, I promised that I would stop writing about the Sandusky Scandal and related fallout, but hey — I’ve lied to you before, haven’t I?)
*Rankings courtesy of CBSsports.com.
†That one is there just for you, Jenny, my love! (OK, for those not on the inside of our humor here, “If I’m [insert name of a sports team], I [insert present tense indicative verb instead of the grammatically correct future tense subjunctive] here…” For example: “If I’m Green Bay, I punt here.” This is one more grammatical abomination uttered by sports broadcasters, unearthed by none other than the lovely Artificially Sweetened.