The Nittany Turkey Panel of Experts Pipes Up
Good day, Nittany Lions football fans! All the predictions for Penn State football 2015 are now in, with the late entry this evening from Toejam. Toejam, as well as I, lived in the Penn State East Residence Hall “E” (presently called McKean) back in 1964-5. We’ve both done well to be around 50 years later, but I digress.
Quite a few regulars weighed in with predictions and detailed analyses. Best of all, they submitted plenty of unfounded conjectures and opinions. I’ll summarize their prognostications along with a couple of snips of their diatribe in each case before issuing my own Official Turkey Poop Prediction.
First in was Artificially Sweetened who doesn’t usually make predictions but was feeling lucky. She’s looking for an 8-4 regular season and a possible bowl appearance in Nashville. “I know I’m being generous. As for the bowl game, I’ll predict they go to the Music City Bowl, but I won’t hazard a guess as to their opponent because I’m too lazy to do additional research right now, and because I am thinking of cupcakes.”
RD believes PSU will have a 9-3 regular season, although he is worried about the offensive line, as well he should be. “’Hope for best, expect the worst’ –Mel Brooks. When we progress beyond FTC, wild-eyed predictions may abound. Even so, I’m predicting 9-3 while harboring massive worries about the OL. I may need a few more disclaimers but there’s plenty of time to embellish before Temple.” So, embellish, already!
Drozz was very terse, considering that he’s a lawyer. His numbers for the regular season are 8-4. “My hopes are simple-hack progresses, and franklin’s playcalling and clock management improves to marginal.”
Our consummate optimist and Chief Sanguinarian, K. John, likes the defense even better than last year and says Christian Hackenberg is the best QB in the Big Ten. This combination enables him to confidently predict a 10-2 season and a trip to the Rose Bowl. “While I do not think this team is playoff worthy, even if they run the table during the regular season and make the playoffs (Note: Ohio State was not worthy of the playoffs but got hot at the right time which is why there should not be a playoff), they should take major step forward in year two under Franklin and be the odds on favorite to win the Big Ten in 2016 in Hackenberg’s senior season where they will be loaded for bear.” Think so? I’m thinking that this year will be Hack’s last year, unless he completely sucks, in which case he’ll need another year to impress the NFL scouts.
Joe Z likes the same 9-3 number favored by both RD and Phil Grosz, even though he, too, has significant concerns over the offensive line. After all, it was he who coined the term “Five Traffic Cones” to describe that unit. He thinks Penn State will play in a halfway decent bowl game. “I will say I do expect them to win the non-cons and I will be apoplectic if they lose to Rutgers, Maryland, Michigan or Northwestern. And they will be playing in a better bowl than the FAMMCB!”
Big Al, while believing it is too early to make an even halfway accurate season prediction on account of the plethora of variables that can affect the outcome under the Many a Slip Twixt the Cup and the Lip Theory, nevertheless finds his way to predict an improvement over last year’s winning 6-6 prediction by interpolating between a best case 9-3 and a worst case 5-7 to arrive at 7-5. “I think most of your readers have forgotten how shitty last year’s offensive and special teams were and how poorly the defense performed during their last 3 games. If Fat Julius had been the kicker last year instead of Ficken, State would have been a 4 and 8 team. So, I would argue that a 7-5 record this year actually represents a 3 game improvement.”
Mike (aka Jackstand) thinks Penn State will finish with an 8-4 season with no particular reasoning or supportive logic. “I’ll go with 8-4, provided I can revise my prediction no later than 12 hours before the scheduled kick-off time of the season opening game.” This turkey looks forward to alternating hosting of the weekly watch parties with Jackstand.
From the great football mecca of Pottsville, PA (home of the erstwhile NFL Pottsville Maroons), Toejam weighed in better late than never. He goes with either 9-3 or 10-2, right up there with the Sanguinarians and/or Phil “The Pill” Grosz. “Not knowing what the O line is going to look like, it is difficult to project wins over anyone except maybe Army and Buffalo. Assuming at least an average line somewhat better than last year I would predict a 9-3 or possibly a 10-2 season with losses to OSU and MSU and a possible victory over Michigan since it is the 11th game and is at the Beav.”
That brings us to this turkey’s prediction, now that I’ve received the benefit of all your wisdom. Mostly, I’ll just throw wisdom out the window and hope that it doesn’t fly back in through the screen door. I firmly subscribe to the Many a Slip Twixt the Cup and the Lip Theory, but I’ll actually take a stand without waffling. I was originally going to break the schedule down into two parts, so I wouldn’t bore you too much with lengthy posts. I figure you can always stop, do something else, and pick up where you left off. Accordingly, I present my take on the season ahead.
Official Turkey Poop Season Prediction
I’m going with 7-5. Here’s how I think it will go down.
The Nits open on the road against Temple (6-6). How many times has Temple ever beaten Penn State? Speak up! Yeah, this one is another PSU win.
Returning home for the Cupcake Homestand, Penn State takes on the Buffalo Bulls (5-6). The home opener will go to the Nittany Lions without a doubt.
Next is a prime-time home conference game against the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers (8-5). One big question will be which of the two sophomore candidates replaces Gary “Turn” Nova at quarterback. Losing Nova isn’t a bad thing for Rutgers in the PSU-Rutgers non-rivalry; he was intercepted five times in last year’s game. Also, remember that Rutgers really knows how to block kicks, having led the nation last year. That doesn’t portend well for Joe Julius’ unorthodox style. Rutgers’ defense dominated last year, and this will be a key breakout game, as far as this turkey is concerned, for Hackenberg and the offense. If they can generate any offense, our Nittany Lions will pull this one out. Will they? Can they? I say they won’t have an offense, so they go down at home.
San Diego State (7-6) had as much trouble putting points on the board last year as did Penn State, but their defense ranked 13th in points against, keeping them in some games they won but should have lost. Their rushing defense is not going to ring up very many yards against the Lions, and so this will be win number three for the Kitties.
Attention! Army (4-8) is next on the cupcake list. No Bronze Stars will be handed out for this one, as Army’s almost completely rushing oriented offense will become a prisoner of war of Zettel and Company Z. Put this one in the win column for the Allies.
Traditional Big Ten Whipping Boy Indiana (4-8) takes on Penn State in a nooner at Beaver Stadium. Nooners have long been problematical for PSU; this one won’t be. With Nate Sudfeld returning, the Hoosiers might actually be barely bowl-bound after taking that Oaken Bucket again from hapless Purdue, but they’ll still suuuuuck badly enough to ensure a happy day for the Nittany Lions. It’s just that Purdue sucks worse, so that leaky bucket will be going to Bloomington. This win brings PSU to 5-1 going into the dreaded Horseshoe.
And that’s the next stop, for a prime-time, nationally televised game with the 2014-5 national champion Ohio State Buckeyes (14-1). They’re just loaded. Although the Nittany Lions gave them a good run for their money last year and damn near won, I maintain that the Buckeyes came out with “that dullard look” (to quote Urban Meyer’s description of a generally unfocused and disinterested team). Look, even the vaunted Penn State defense will find it hard to contain Zeke Elliot in the fourth quarter after being pounded for the whole damn game. Zeke vs. Zettel should be fun to watch, though. Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett are both potential Heisman quarterbacks, while last year’s starter, Braxton Miller, is now an H-back. There’ll be no Sam Ficken this year for PSU to pull it out if it should happen by some quirk of fate and dullard looks to be a close one, which I think is a remote possibility. Nah, I don’t see PSU coming out of Columbus with a win by any stretch of the imagination, so keep on dreaming of 1964 and maybe lightning will strike twice in the same place!
Maryland (7-6) has a remodeled defense. In this rivalry-that’s-not-a-rivalry home game, Penn State has a good shot at avenging last year’s 20-19 defeat at Baltimore. Randy Edsall deserves a major spanking, but after the Ohio State loss, this one will be a bit of a let-down for the boys, and Baltimore’s mayor might have something to say about that, but they’re not playing this one in Baltimore, so PSU wins big time over the turgid turtles.
The two-game home stand continues with Illinois (6-7). We all hope this will be Asshole Tim Beckman’s (ATB) last year, so the Nittany Lions must do their share to send him packing. The Illinois defense has been crappy and I see no reason to believe it will improve under ATB, even though he’s a defensive guy. With all the crap surrounding ATB mistreating players, this is as sure a win as any for Penn State.
PSU will head west to Evansville to take on Northwestern (5-7). Why the hell should I have such a queasy feeling about this game? I don’t know, but I do! Even with a quarterback controversy and a pretty sucky team in general, there is always that thing about Pat Fitzgerald pwning Penn State. You know, like as in the Nittany Lions getting their asses kicked horribly in front of a Beaver Stadium home crowd last year? Somehow — in a way no analysis can glean — there is some mojo working in the Wildcats, so the lesser cats typically give the big cats all they can handle. Here, the intangibles outweigh logic. I’m betting this will be a noon start, and you know what noon starts on the road mean. Yeah, another jewel in Northwestern’s crown.
Back to the Big Beave after a bye week, the well rested Nittany Lions will face Michigan Man Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines (5-7). The losing record ended all hope for Michigan Man Brady Hoke, who was summarily fired, which cleared the way for Michigan Man Jim Harbaugh to hop off the 49ers train before he got fired in San Francisco. Again, already, we have a team in quarterback flux; however, I think the team will respond to Harbaugh’s cranky leadership. By the time the Wolverines hit Beaver Stadium, they’re liable not to suck quite as badly as many think. If Harbaugh gets the running game on track, and can score a few more points than last year, the jig will be up for the Lions. Of course, this is a tough call, given the vaunted Penn State defense, but I believe that after the Northwestern loss and the bye week, the boys will be disheartened, distracted, and defocused so they’ll lose this quintessential trap game that is not a trap game.
Finally, our wonderful Land Grant Trophy game, with the trophy permanently in East Lansing (we hope). Rumor has it that the trophy will be replaced by something more aesthetically pleasing (that wouldn’t take much). Anyhow, Penn State travels to East Lansing to visit the LGT and get their asses handed to them by the Michigan State Spartans (11-2). Connor Cook will be back, and this turkey thinks he’s a really solid and underrated QB. Narduzzi is gone, though, which will lead to the inevitable questions about the defense being up to Narduzzi standards. I’m betting that it will be. Speaking of trap games, though, this one could be a trap for Moo U. I’m betting that it won’t be. Put it in the big L column for the Nittany Lions.
Ending the season with three straight losses is cruel, cruel, cruel. I’m just sayin’. After all that built-up hope, daunted only by the early Rutgers loss, the Nittany Lions torment their fans with a season ending nosedive and a 3-5 conference record. Damn!
Don’t send death threats. It’s only my opinion, and wrong as I usually am, you should be happy that I’m going this way. You know how I love playing devil’s advocate while secretly hoping for 11-1. So deal with it!
That’s a Wrap!
In summation, I’m pretty much in tune with Big Al. (We’re always the pessimists.) I’m certain that the boys will improve, but not quite as quickly as the Sanguinarians predict. They have nowhere to go but up after the sanctions years. I’m thinking we’ll really start seeing some humongous improvements starting next year, but this year is still transitional.
There will be a bowl game, but probably not a New Year’s Day game, for the Nittany Lions. Hell, there are too many teams that will finish ahead of PSU — even in the Big Ten — for us to be thinking about New Year’s Day. tOSU will likely go to the CFP, Wisconsin or Moo U to the Rose Bowl, and Mysterious Nebraska is also likely to finish ahead of PSU. So, call it the Toilet Bowl in Kohler, Wisconsin, which is my euphemism for some sucky bowl that I, like Artificially Sweetened, am too lazy to research.
I guess the losses to Rutgers, Michigan, and NWU will make Joe apoplectic, but such is the way of the football gods. Remember that this turkey is a Penn State fan through and through. I’m not wishing a crappy season on the boys. I’m just trying to be coldly analytical. Or more accurately, coldly bullshittical. One or the other.
Win or lose, this will be a fun season, and it will be interesting to watch Hack and the O-Line develop. I just wouldn’t count on too much, too fast. The defense will definitely be fun to watch and any positive signs from the offense will be exhilarating. Can’t wait!
I’ll be back!