Penn State Football 2015 is Nigh
The pre-season college football coaches’ poll is out, so that means your favorite turkey needs to get his feathered ass in gear to begin his coverage of the 2015-2016 Penn State football season. I guess a good start would be to once again poll my faithful readers, all five of you — we lost Mom back in 2011 — to see how everyone views the season ahead. I’ll review last year’s results, too, just so you know how you made out, or to laugh at you — one or the other.
This is an anniversary season, just like every year, so it is my pleasure to tell you that I have been writing this blog since August 2004, although the Nittany Turkey had been in existence for at least ten years prior to that as a mailing list. I wish I had the archives from back then. I know I was as full of crap back then as I am now, but Penn State football has undergone some enormous transformations in my 20+ years of combined turkey prose. The highs (1994-5, 2005-6), the lows ([cue cello] The Dark Years), and so many in-between years that pissed us all off when we thought they would do better. We loved St. Joe when he brought us a Rose Bowl Championship in 1995 and an Orange Bowl Championship in 2006; we hated him when the team languished during the [cue cello] years and through all the in-between years, come what may. Who knows where the road would lead us? Only a fool would say. Well, this turkey fool did, and half the time I was wrong, but I had great fun along the way.
2015 Pre-season Amway Coaches’ Poll
So, here we go with the poll, already. Many of you have already seen it, but for those who haven’t, here it is again.
- Ohio State (62) – 1598 points
- TCU (1) – 1487
- Alabama (1) – 1452
- Baylor – 1365
- Oregon – 1260
- Michigan State – 1230
- Auburn – 1103
- Florida State – 1057
- Georgia – 1026
- USC – 1014
- Notre Dame – 883
- Clemson – 838
- LSU – 727
- UCLA – 697
- Ole Miss – 668
- Arizona State – 577
- Georgia Tech – 573
- Wisconsin – 470
- Oklahoma – 407
- Arkansas – 377
- Stanford – 365
- Arizona – 299
- Missouri – 229
- Boise State – 190
- Tennessee – 166
Here are the other teams that received votes:
Mississippi State 164; Texas A&M 149; Oklahoma State 89; Virginia Tech 70; Utah 40; Kansas State 37; Louisville 27; Nebraska 27; Minnesota 25; Penn State 20; South Carolina 18; Miami (Fla.) 16; Texas 8; Illinois 7; Duke 6; Air Force 5; Louisiana Tech 5; Marshall 4; Utah State 4; West Virginia 3; North Carolina State 3; Brigham Young 3; Florida 2; Georgia Southern 2; North Carolina 2; Maryland 1; Michigan 1; Kentucky 1; Central Florida 1; Cincinnati 1; Washington 1.
Yeah, that’s right. The damn fool coaches picked your Nittany Lions to wind up around 35th, right behind Nebraska and Minnesota. If schadenfreude provides any consolation, how the mighty have fallen when Michigan gets one lousy vote and finishes 53rd. Nobody is showing Jim Harbaugh any respect. Well, hell, he has a significant rebuilding job with what Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke left him. Once powerful Texas is also behind Penn State in the early polling — no respect for Charlie Strong, either, in his first year leading the burnt orange.
These guys are always wrong but I posted it anyway. It’s a good conversation starter, and I know that some of you still don’t think Ohio State is any good, so I wanted to be amused. Consider the Buckeyes’ quarterback situation: they’re so well stocked at the key position that last year’s early season starter, Braxton Miller, has moved to wide receiver. It’s hard to repeat as national champ, though, and when you’re the king of the hill, everyone’s gunning for you, as St. Joe used to say. Moo U. is getting a lot of early respect from the pollsters, as well they should, and Oregon is getting too much, having lost Marcus Mariota.
Nittany Turkey Panel of Experts
As you know, the Nittany Lions were made eligible for post-season competition during the 2014-15 season, but that was not known to be true back in August 2014 when we did our prognosticating, so we predicted only 12 games. Therefore, we won’t consider the exciting Pinstripe Bowl win over Boston College in evaluating y’all’s 2014 predictions. Without the bowl game, Penn State finished 6-6 in 2014.
Our Nittany Turkey Panel of Experts predicted results ranging from 6-6 to 10-2. The panel’s overall consensus was 8-3-1. We all picked individual game results as just wins or losses. And although he got some of the games wrong, our big season winner was Big Al, who correctly predicted a 6-6 year for the Nits. None of us including Al thought PSU would lose to Northwestern or Illinois, but yeah, those were the low points of the season. The high points were the Croke Park, Ireland win over UCF and the overtime game against the Buckeyes — damn near a victory — but clearly not the same OSU team we saw in the playoffs.
This Turkey predicted 7-5 for last year — I was among the fools who thought Penn State could beat Northwestern and Illinois.
So, what do you think?
This year, our schedule is front-loaded with cupcakes, and it’s pretty favorable looking in general. Penn State opens on the road against Temple on Saturday, September 5, followed by home games against Buffalo, Rutgers, San Diego State, Army, and Indiana — so the common wisdom is that PSU will be 6-0 going into the Horseshoe for the “showdown” [chortle] with the Buckeyes on October 17. Yeah, that’s pretty common-ass logic, but of course, this Turkey has to believe that at least one of those so-called cupcake games is a loss. (Absent such a perspective generating loss, can you imagine the sanguinarians’ diatribe at that point in the season? The sentiment Peter Meter will be pointing straight up. Jeez! They’ll be thinking Penn State will never ever lose another game! But I digress.)
After the Ohio State loss and an away game at Maryland, the Lions get to see if they can avenge a couple of last year’s losses against Illinois (home) and Northwestern (away). Then, after a bye week, the boys return to home turf to take on the Hokeless Wolverines followed by a trip to East Lansing for Thanksgiving weekend, when this turkey must lay low and the Nittany Lions will end the season on a down note. Don’t worry about the Big Ten Championship game. PSU won’t be in it. Phil the Pill Grosz thinks this team can go 9-3 in the regular season, given his usual list of pipe-dream generated fantasy requirements. As for me, I don’t think they’ll get there. How about you? What do you think?
If you get overly optimistic, temper your thinking with visions of the offensive line.
We should expect Christian Hackenberg to have a good season, in spite of the Five Traffic Cones (FTC). After all, it is his final opportunity to impress NFL scouts. After last year, his stock dropped tremendously, so it’s either stop the bleeding or wind up someone’s afterthought on Draft Day. Everybody is thinking that Anthony Zettel and the defense will propel Bob Shoop to a head coaching job somewhere better than Columbia, in order to make sense of the hiring of Jim Haslett during the off-season. The special teams are up in the air again (pun intended), so we’re all waiting to see what shakes loose there.
Please chime in with your predictions for the 2015-6 season of Penn State football. If you think the Nittany Lions will be going to a bowl, please include which one you think they’ll be in, against whom, and whether they’ll win or lose. I’ll do the same. I’m doing this early this year just so’s you can take a while to think about it and so’s I can get cranked up in writing mode. I know it will take a while for loyal readers to notice that I’ve come out of hibernation, and some might not be ready for football yet. Accordingly, I will expect predictions to trickle in slowly. But by all means, do opine. Don’t be shy. Let us know what you think!
Meanwhile, I’ll be working on my Penn State football 2015 game-by-game analysis — or concocting game-by-game bullshit, as the case may be (and often is). I will be back soon with a look at some of those damn cupcakes.