Illinois 16, Penn State 14
No one can dispute the ugliness of today’s Penn State (6-5, 2-5 Big Ten) loss to Illinois (5-6, 2-5), two bottom feeders seeking some salvation for a forlorn season. It sucked. Illinois won 16-14.
Neither team showed much in the way of offense, and in the end, the vaunted Penn State defense gave out, allowing the Illini a minuscule opportunity, which they took. It was good enough for the win.
There were no winners in the vaunted Nittany Turkey Officially Esteemed Panel of Occasional Experts derby this week because no one picked Illinois, although two deserve honorable mention. Big Al said it would come down to turnovers, and whoever had the most would lose. Illinois didn’t lose the ball, while Penn State had one (two, if you count the kickoff turnover) and lost. Another honorable mention goes to erstwhile PSU football blogger Drozz, who set the over/under for Hackenberg pass attempts at 18. As it turned out, he had 15.
It was another game where, faced with one of the worst rushing defenses in all of college football, Penn State could have asserted its superiority with a running game, but didn’t. Mangiro was back at center, and Wendy was nowhere to be found. It wound up 172 yards on 47 attempts, for a 3.7 yard average, which wasn’t good enough.
Defensively, RD wanted to know why Illinois’ best receiver, Mike Dudek, was always being covered by a safety. WTF? I have no answer, other than our secondary still sucks, which is a non-sequitur, but a truism. The soft zone returned with a vengeance.
Both teams sucked as expected in third down conversions, with Penn State being the “better” with 6-15, as opposed to 2-16 for Illinois.
Actually, Penn State’s opening drive is where they looked the best, and even there, I wonder whether a closer review would have revealed that the touchdown catch was actually bobbled. Doesn’t matter though. In the end, they sucked and they lost.
The announced crowd of 35,172 looked more like 20,000, but that didn’t matter, either. Neither did it matter that the meager television audience that stuck around to watch this thing undoubtedly wasn’t of sufficient size to stem the flow of red ink attributable to this game on ESPN’s P&L statement. Whoever watched this debacle wound up getting to witness the momentous event of Beckman the Asshole’s third Big Ten win in three years of coaching.
If Illinois can somehow manage to pull off a win next week against Northwestern, which I doubt, they’ll be bowl eligible. Ain’t that special!
You know, really, we keep hoping that these Nittany Lions are better than this. Even the defense — our crowning glory — wore down, allowing that final, winning field goal. The offense sucked (what else is new?). When are we going to start admitting that this Penn State offense cannot score enough points to win consistently in the face of empirical evidence supporting that assertion? Even I had them scoring 23 points this week. Clearly, I’m in some form of denial, but they really are that bad. We keep thinking it will get better next week, and there’s only one more next week. Let’s hope they will not be a total embarrassment against Moo U.
How about Hack and Donovan standing next to each other on the sideline, looking different directions, not saying a word to each other?
And so, let me hear the excuses. And I really want to know who still thinks this team can beat Moo U. Get real!