Michigan State 34, Penn State 10
The Michigan State game went as most of us non-delusional fans expected deep down, even though a few of us held out hopes for a close game. If you want to play the K. John game and nullify the opening kickoff return for a TD, the first half ended with a Moo U. 6-3 advantage. However, even without the Sanguinarian filter, we knew that 13-3 would be about as good as it would get for dear old State. That became apparent when they could only manage to squeeze three points out of several decent opportunities in the second quarter. In the end, it was Moo U. 34, Penn State 10, and there’s no debating that.
As I predicted, Moo U. senior running back Jeremy Langford did indeed get his 16th 100-yard game in a row to lead the FBS, but because there were fewer missed tackles by the PSU defense than in the Illinois game, at least he didn’t get the 150 I predicted if that didn’t change. He got 118 hard-fought yards. Mooster quarterback Connor Cook was able to pick open spots in the Penn State secondary in the second half as we watched yet another failure of zone coverage similar to the prior week’s Illinois fiasco. Michigan State would wind up with 180 yards passing for a total of 298 yards.
Penn State’s inability to establish the run was costly, with only 38 net yards for the game. Passing wasn’t much better, amounting to 195 yards. Christian Hackenberg was 21-45 with no touchdowns and only one interception, but he also fumbled one away. He was sacked three times. He played a much better game than he has of late, though, and the much maligned offensive line did a better job of protecting him. He made a few good throws and a few really bad ones, but his attitude seemed better and by the end of the game he seemed more comfortable in the pocket. Maybe he’s just relieved that this season is close to being over. His receivers let him down somewhat by either not getting open or dropping balls they should have caught. Hack was sacked three times for 26 yards, setting a new record for sacks of a Penn State quarterback in a single season, and surpassing Brooks Bollinger on the all-time Big Ten horizontal quarterback futility scale.
Overall, the Penn State offense sucked, as it has for most of the season. At just 6-16 third down conversions, and a mere 25 minutes of ball possession, there was no chance of winning against as powerful an opponent as this one.
Defensively, the Penn State defense was there playing well, but it was eventually overwhelmed by the Moo U. offense. While Langford got his 100-yard game, he averaged only 3.9 yards per carry on 30 carries, with a long run of 17 yards. Anthony Zettel’s interception of Connor Cook at the 43 yard-line was a thing of beauty. Alas, it produced no points, as the half-ending drive ended in a Hackerception in the end zone for a Moo U. touchback. To Hack’s credit, Chris Godwin should have caught the damn ball, but wound up tipping it to the defense.
Nobody had everything right, but I’ll give the best prediction award this week to Mike and me, the Nittany Turkey, who said the final score would be 31-16. K. John was the best predictor in his own mind, according to his testimony, but I don’t think the bookies would pay off on 19-15 really meaning 34-10, and I sure as hell won’t, either. In any case, Moo U. covering the spread and taking the over would have been two winning bets. The o/u wound up at 43 and the spread at 13.5. I also mentioned in a comment that PSU would get blown out in the second half, which I would say was the case — three touchdowns to one is a blowout. Big Al also gets the Pattern Recognition Trophy for his recognition of the Nittany Lion repeating pattern of playing two crappy games following one good game. Furthermore, Al is the only one of you geniuses who correctly pegged the Penn State season at 6-6. (If you apply the Sanguinarian filter, K. John was also correct with a 10-2 prediction.)
Moo U. was true to form as regards time of possession. They held onto the ball for almost 35 minutes.
For once, the Penn State punting game was not too shabby, with five punts averaging 40 yards, three of them downed inside the 20. However, Sam Ficken’s first field goal attempt was as ugly as any from two years ago. Just awful — yet another thing to compound PSU’s red zone woes. Furthermore, his opening kickoff was similarly ugly, resulting in a touchdown for the Spartans on an R.J. Shelton runback. Too bad the senior kicker has to go out as somewhat of a goat after this one, but he winds up having set a single-season record for his 23 field goals.
It’s a Beautiful Thing!
The Land Grant Trophy will stay in East Lansing. There is some hope that it will be retired there and a new one will be designed for future editions of this manufactured rivalry. One can only hope!
Congratulations to the Seniors
That Penn State would be outclassed on the field was no surprise to most of us Antisanguinarians, including this antediluvian turkey. I’m sad for the classy group of seniors who stuck with the program and worked so hard, giving us their most productive college years, but ya can’t win ’em all. Good show, guys! You’ve earned everybody’s respect and admiration, and you’re going out as heroes!
Food and Beverage Issues
For the game, we partied at Mike’s house, where he torched up some steaks and I made my signature Caesarian™ Salad (don’t ask what’s in it, but it comes out good!). I also invented a drink to salute our opponentry, the Spartan Green Margarita, which was downed to favorable reviews by the assembled multitude.
What’s with the Bowl, Already?
Now about this bowl thing. Maryland and Rutgers wound up with identical 7-5 records, so in order of their overall records (not counting the Big Ten Championship game), the conference’s bowl eligible teams are tOSU (11-1), Moo U. (10-2), Wisconsin (10-2), the Pelliniless Nebraska (9-3), Minnesooda (8-4), Iowa (7-5), Maryland (7-5), Rutgers (7-5), Illinois (6-6), and PSU (6-6). That’s ten teams. TCU seems a better bet than tOSU to get into the final four, but tOSU will get a major bowl bid if the Schmuckeyes™ beat the Badgers in the Big Ten Championship. Hey, Pitt and Miami are both 6-6. Wouldn’t one of them make a great opponent for old times’ sake? Screw Notre Dame, already! Anyhow, I’m all kinds of confused about which minor bowls are which and how the conference gets involved this year, so would you geniuses out there please give me a hand with this one? Where do you think PSU is going bowling (another worn-out bullshit dumbass sportswriter cliché if I ever heard one!)?
(An earlier version of this article left out Illinois. God forbid I should leave out Illinois, already!)