Rutgers vs. Penn State
The aerial view of Beaver Stadium from whoever sponsors the blimpage should be very cool on Saturday night, as our mighty Penn State Nittany Lions (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) host the Rutgers
Criminals Scarlet Knights (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) in a prime time Big Ten Conference match-up. A stripe-out has been declared! Yay! (Sorry about the sarcasm — what did you expect?) This means that our well-disciplined Penn State fans will alternate blue and white apparel in adjacent sections of the stadium to create a striped effect (see photo). This is becoming an increasingly popular, albeit trite, practice around the college football universe. When it works, it’s a lot of fun. I have to believe that Penn State started this shit way back when with the “Whiteout”.
The Nittany Lions are still celebrating an amazing 27-14 win over MAC powerhouse Buffalo (more sarcasm) while the Scarlet Gang Bangers beat Washington State 37-34 last week.
Law & Order: Criminal Intent
Just exactly which Rutgers players show up depends upon how many get out of jail in time, either through parole or the New Jersey State Corrections Department’s play/release program. I’ll discuss arrests and convictions more in the CSI: New Jersey section of this report. OK, I’m just kidding. I don’t want to besmirch TV-Land too much, lest Dick Wolf and Jerry Bruckheimer come down heavily on my ass with their Hollywood big bucks.
Where do we begin? Oh, hell, let’s just look at this year’s New York Times headlines from this fledgling season. They’re already using terms like “embattled” and “rocky times”.
On August 25, the Times published a report that head coach Kyle Flood did something very, very bad that should cause his dismissal and provoke a Freeh Report at the behest of the Board of Trustees or at least a suppressed North Carolina-style investigation. Rutgers has admitted that Flood improperly contacted a faculty member concerning the academic status of one of his star
criminals football players. In Hillary-like fashion, Flood emailed the faculty member from a personal email account about junior cornerback Nadir Barnwell, who was a dumbass about to flunk out or at least become academically ineligible and who would later get into even more trouble, as you’ll see below. Barnwell was regarded as a key player in the Scarlet Knights’ defense, but he will not be playing against Penn State. Read on for more Barnwell crap.
[Update: As of September 18, Flood has been given a three-game suspension.]
At the same time as the Flood shenanigan was disclosed, Rutgers suspended star receiver Leonte Carroo and quarterback Chris Laviano along with three other players for the first half of the season opener against cupcake Norfolk State, for a curfew violation. Laviano was also trying to use fake ID. Flood has declared that Laviano will be the starting quarterback for the Penn State game on Saturday. More on Carroo forthwith.
Moving forward to September 3, Rutgers once again generated headlines in the New York Times, when it revealed that five of the team’s players had been charged with assault. These animals surrounded at least four people like a pack of wild dogs, inflicting upon them an unprovoked attack that resulted in a fractured jaw for one of their victims. The players accused were the aforementioned Nadir Barnwell, Andre Boggs, Razohnn Gross, Ruhann Peele and Delon Stephenson.
In a separate case, defensive back Andre Boggs was also charged and accused of being involved in a series of robberies of students in which thousands of dollars of cash and marijuana were stolen. It is not known whether he smoked or sold the weed.
Athletic Director Julie Hermann issued the following statement:
The students involved are currently suspended from our program. We continue to monitor the situation. We will have no further comment as this is a pending legal matter.”
Obviously, none of the listed players will be playing against Penn State.
Barely more than a week after the above six players were charged and suspended, wide receiver Leonte Carroo was back in the news again. On September 14, the Times reported that Carroo was charged with assault under domestic violence in connection with an episode outside Hale Center, the team’s training and administrative building, after the Washington State game. Carroo has been suspended indefinitely, according to Flood.
So, that brings you up to date with the Rutgers criminal activity. Seven players essentially kicked off the team, one happily smoking his new-found stash, with the others wishing they had some. None of the Stupid Seven will play against Penn State on Saturday.
What’s Left for Rutgers?
Not much of a defense, that’s for sure, as last week’s 37-34 loss to Washington State revealed. In that game, however, they did exhibit some offense, with Chris “Fake ID” Laviano completing 23 of 29 for 204 yards with one touchdown and one interception. But four of those completions went to Leonte Carroo for 52 yards, and ol’ Leonte will be smoking weed with Andre Boggs this weekend. So, the Rutgers offense takes a hit, so to speak, from criminal activities, too.
On the other hand, junior wide receiver Janarion Grant is a dangerous force in the passing game, running end-arounds, and on return teams. He torched the Cougars for 65 yards receiving, 21 yards rushing, two punt returns for 56 yards (one was 55 yards), and he returned six kickoffs for 195 yards, including one 100-yard TD return. The vaunted Penn State defense will have its hands full with Grant, especially if Grant Haley isn’t ready for action. Without Carroo, all eyes will be on Janarion, as they should be, assuming that he hasn’t visited Boggs for his weekend relaxation toke.
Another Floridian, 5’10”, 215 lb sophomore Josh Hicks has proven to be a serviceable runner for the Scarlet Knights. In the Wahington State outing, he had 16 carries for 91 yards with a long run of 23 yards.
Rutgers kicking and punting units are competent. However, unlike recent years, the Scarlet Knights have no blocked kicks yet this year, so they might be fading back to obscurity in that category.
Will off-field crap affect Rutgers in this game? Damn straight it will, in many ways not immediately apparent.
Meaningless Stat Comparison
Both Rutgers and Penn State suuuuuuuuck offensively. PSU is ranked 122 in total offense, while Rutgers is 40th; however, the Scarlet Knights’ rushing offense is ranked a pretty decent 26th through two cupcakes. That won’t hold, though, given the mighty Penn State defensive line, lemme tellya! But unlike Penn State, Rutgers is 8-8 in red zone scoring. Penn State is 5-6, but three of those were field goals they settled for. Better than last year, anyway.
Temper any expectations based on meaningless stats unless you need something to cry about after the game. With six or seven Rutgers jailbirds missing, the whole damn game complexion is changed.
Penn State Depth Chart Uncertainty
While the depth chart now reflects the offensive line as it was composed for the Buffalo game, it seems to be a week behind the times. Andrew Nelson is listed at left tackle, and he might not even be available to play! Mike Gesicki is still listed as first-string tight end, and God knows he should not be there after last week’s two high-profile drops and shaky blocking.
Well, how about the injury front? Head coach James Franklin remains optimistic that injured Lions Grant Haley, Andrew Nelson, and Brandon Bell will return this weekend, but he properly waffled when he said it would be up to the training staff to make the determinations.
Our back-up center, Wendy Laurent, hasn’t been 100% available over the past two weeks, according to Franklin. What does that mean? Wendy had her period, or what? But the implication was that Wendy is back to 100% availability this week, which gives Herb Hand more flexibility with the Five Traffic Cones. Perhaps K. John will get his wish and see Angelo Mangiro moved to guard.
As for me, I’m thinking that the McCabe Sisters might be an adequate second team for this offensively offensive line.
Franklin is worried about Janarion Grant, especially as a punt returner. With Penn State’s punting game being what it is, there is much to be worried about.
Distinguished Alumna of the Week
Rutgers is the alma mater of the great porn star Asia Carrera (née Jessica Steinhauser), whose father was Japanese and whose mother was German. Her family must have decided that she looked more German than Japanese, but she made megabucks with her eponymous Asianness. The precocious Steinhauser studied piano as a child and performed twice at Carnegie Hall before the age of 15. At 16, she taught English at a college in Fukui, Japan. She was a National Merit Scholarship winner, and she considers herself a nerd.
Asia’s adult film career spanned the decade between 1993 and 2003. She starred in over 400 films and video features. Her stage name for the porn productions was derived from that of actress Tia Carrere, slightly changed to avoid legal issues.
Carrera was the first Asian performer ever to win the AVN Female Performer of the Year Award.
Although Steinhauser did not graduate from Rutgers, she was there on a full academic scholarship, and dual-majored in Japanese and Business. She is a member of Mensa, with an IQ of 156. On her website, she identified investor Warren Buffett as her hero. He was very pleased to learn that, the dirty old man.
The weatherman calls for the weather on Saturday to be mostly sunny and very warm, with a high of 82ºF. By kickoff time, 8:00 PM, it should cloud up a bit and drop down to a comfortable football temperature but with high humidididdidity and a chance of rain. No snow. Not yet, anyway. Advantage, no one.
Official Turkey Poop Prediction
In my pre-season picks, I went with Rutgers for this game, due to their defensive effort last year and the fact that losing quarterback Gary “Turn” Nova, who was intercepted five times by the Nittany Lions, was not such a bad thing. Yea, verily, that was then and this is now. With the team having been decimated by arrests, and the head coach having been told he’s a bad boy, I’ve changed my mind. So has Lost Wages, where Penn State has grown to a ten-point favorite over Rutgers after opening with a seven-point line. The over/under is 45, suggesting a final score of 27-17. Remember the old maxim: you will never go broke betting on Penn State against the spread. While I think PSU will win, they will win ugly, with Rutgers completing some passes we don’t like, making some outside runs, and Janarion Grant giving our boys trouble on four fronts. Nevertheless, if you have to defend against only two or three guys, it’s manageable. The Penn State offense, as usual, will sputter at times, giving us more heartburn, but in the end, they will pull it out by the skin of their teeth. Penn State 24, Rutgers 23. Take the under, and deal with it.
I’ll be back after the game with some lies about why I was right all the way about this one.