First-Ever Contest with San Diego State
The Penn State Nittany Lions (2-1, 1-0 Big Ten) continue their lengthy home stand at Beaver Stadium, taking on the San Diego State Aztecs (1-2, 0-0 MWC) for the first time at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Penn State is coming off a much-needed blowout win over Rutgers by the score of 28-3, whereas San Diego State lost in overtime last Saturday to Sunbelt Conference South Alabama Jaguars, having blown a 14 point lead, in the process, snapping a nine-game home winning streak.
Trivial fact: The PSU-SDSU game is the second-longest travel game within the continental United States in 2015. The longest travel was UCF to Stanford a couple of weeks ago.
Montezuma’s Revenge, Already!
Montezuma II was an Aztec who was killed during the Spanish Conquest of Mexico by Conquistador Hernán Cortés and his band of merry men in Tenochtitlan, back in 1520. Montezuma had a veritable plethora of wives, but he had only two queens: Tlapalizquixochzin and Teotlalco. He kept them close by, because if he would have had to write to them, he would have to remember how to spell their names, and maybe that’s why he was king.
Here’s another interesting trivial fact: the Marine’s Hymn’s opening line “From the Halls of Montezuma” refers to the Battle of Chapultepec in Mexico City during the Mexican-American War, which was long after Monty’s demise. But I digress.
Montezuma’s Revenge is a colloquialism for traveler’s diarrhea contracted by visitors to Mexico. The urban legend states that Montezuma II initiated the onslaught of diarrhea on “gringo” travelers to Mexico in retribution for the slaughter and subsequent enslavement of the Aztec people by Cortés.
So how did a college in Southern California become a tribute to the Aztecs? First, let me say that the NCAA didn’t make them change their name like the Fighting Illini because the Aztecs had already been conquered and as such they couldn’t give the NCAA any shit about the demeaning use of their name.
Anyhow, local news reporters in San Diego refer to sports reports from the SD State campus as coming from “Montezuma Mesa.” The campus happens to be on a mesa overlooking Mission Valley, at the intersection of Montezuma Road and College Avenue. Montezuma Mesa had been around for a long time before anyone thought about associating SDSU sports with the Aztecs. Actually, the “Aztecs” name was chosen by student leaders in 1925 over such uninteresting names as the Staters, the Professors, the Wampus Cats, the Panthers, and the Balboans.
OK, like, I’m running off at the mouth with digressions here — diarrhea of the keyboard, Montezuma’s Verbal Revenge.
Who are the Aztecs at this point in time?
San Diego State has played unevenly this season. Winning their first game against FCS cross-town opponent San Diego, they proceeded to lose the next two games to Cal and South Alabama.
Head football coach Rocky Long has expressed a great deal of respect for Christian Hackenberg, whether or not it is particularly deserved in view of performances of late. That freshman year sure has legs. More on this Turkey’s thoughts about Hack later; let me not digress here. The obsession with Hackenberg is sure to bring some defensive measures that will test the Five Traffic Cones and Hack’s use of the pocket (or lack of same). The Aztecs have a wacko defense that certainly will create some confusion among the already confused Cones, running a kind of perpetual nickel scheme with a three-man front.
This is a situation in which the Penn State rushing game must continue its progress, especially if SDSU plays Whack-a-Hack the entire game. The Aztecs’ rush defense isn’t too swift, ranked 72nd nationally. The Nittany Lions can impress this turkey with some steady and consistent running, not just a few big plays. I’m more interested in seeing some long drives and third-down conversions more often than not. This is what PSU will need as the Lions hit the meat of the schedule.
The Penn State passing game flat-out sucks, ranked 13th in the Big Ten and 111th overall in the FBS through three cupcakes. Mike Poorman of StateCollege.com wrote an interesting article about Christian Hackenberg’s transformation from a gunnery sergeant to a field general. This is the first anniversary of Hack’s last 200+ yard game that was not an overtime game or a bowl. So now, we’re looking for excuses about why Hack’s crappy performance is good for the team. It is as if he should now be regarded as someone who knows how to check off passing plays at the line of scrimmage so he can hand the ball off. Well, if I threw balls that consistently sailed over receivers’ heads or bounced at their feet on third down and if I had receivers that inspired no confidence in them being where they were supposed to be at any given time, I’d be tempted to hand the ball off, too.
Which brings me to the oft-abused and trite phrase “at this point in time”. It suuuuuuuuuuucks. Time doesn’t have points. Geometrically speaking, a line has points and a plane has points, a three-dimensional cube has points and a four-dimensional tesseract has points. However, time is not a geometrical dimension unless you regard it as the fourth dimension, which I’ll have you know Einstein never did. Still, it wouldn’t have points, would it? But those minds that are hampered by athleticism think that time has points, so what can I say? If I’m time, I’m stiffening up my defense here. It is what it is, to coin a phrase. And that’s life in the space-time continuum, as it were, at this point in time. Right, Kubany?
Oh, I was supposed to be writing about the Aztecs. I seem to have changed course in mid-verbal-diarrhea flow, hence tying into the theme of Montezuma’s Revenge. Holy Shigella!
San Diego State has a huge offensive line, which should make for an interesting test for the vaunted PSU defense. If SDSU can hang onto the ball long enough, the size factor can wear down the defense. That’s why Penn State needs some long damn drives instead of just big fucking plays (BFP). The defense needs a rest, already. These Aztec warriors average 6-6, 320, and big guys like that get tired themselves, too. Let’s see who wins the conditioning war, as it were. Nevertheless, the passing game of SDSU is dependent on protection that these leviathans might not be able to offer against the superior, infallible Penn State defensive front seven. Worse, Long doesn’t seem to be able to settle on a quarterback, but whoever is back there, either Kentucky transfer Maxwell Smith or redshirt freshman Christian Chapman, is bound to have a rough ride.
Accordingly, San Diego State will have to rely on a running game that ranks 94th nationally, although junior running back Donnel Pumphrey is a force to contend with nonetheless, even, already. (You can tell I’m getting totally bored writing about cupcakery here. Let’s face it — SDSU is a crappy team, there’s not much to write about, and I ain’t getting paid to write this crap.) Although he ran for 100 yards in ten games last year, he hasn’t yet had a breakout game thus far this year. Don’t look for it to happen against Penn State’s mighty 12th ranked rushing defense.
On the special teams end, Penn State must win the battle of field position, for SDSU is tied for first place in red-zone offense. Let ’em get close to paydirt and they’ll claw their way in there! To this end, Chris Gulla seems to have earned the spot as #1 punter, and we hope he will be able to improve on the Nittany Lions’ shitty 36.47 yard season punting average. Meanwhile the Aztecs have a competent punting, kicking, and return game. With excellent punt and kick returners in Lloyd Mills and Rashaad Penny, I’m giving the special teams’ edge to the Aztecs.
As far as coaching is concerned, Rocky Long has come under fire by the ruthless San Diego sports press, such as it is, because he hasn’t brought much improvement in the five years he’s been there since taking over for Brady Hoke. That doesn’t make him a bad coach, just not the darling of the media. On the other side, we have John Donovan. Nuff said? I didn’t really say anything, did I?
Alumnus of the Week – Stephen Strasburg
Sorry, I couldn’t find any porn starlets this week. Those of you who came just because of Asia Carrera last week will be disappointed, as was I. I mean, after all, California, the home of Vivid Productions, certainly has enough girls working their way through college that some of them must be attending SDSU, right? I mean, they all can’t be hanging out at UC-Irvine, can they? So sorry to disappoint you, but I couldn’t find any.
Therefore, Washington Nationals ace right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg is our alumnus of the week. After a high school baseball career at West Hills High in Santee, California that attracted the attention of pro scouts, Strasburg wanted to attend Stanford, but he wasn’t accepted there. He decided on San Diego State, where both of his parents had matriculated. His coach for the Aztecs was the late MLB Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who has to be credited for recognizing Strasburg’s talent, even though at that point he looked like an unlikely candidate to go very far. Strasburg was a fat kid who was so badly out of shape that his conditioning coach named him “Slothburg” and encouraged him to quit. He lasted about five days in his dorm before moving back in with his mom. Then he lost 30 pounds and toughened up mentally.
At SDSU, Strasburg started as a relief pitcher. In the second season, he pitched middle innings relief before finally becoming the Aztecs’ closer. He became a starting pitcher as a sophomore and went 8-3 that season with a 1.58 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 98-1/2 innings. He struck out 23 batters against Utah, having increased the speed of his fastball by eight mph to the upper 90s. On May 8, 2009, Strasburg threw his first career no-hitter, clipping the wings of the Falcons by striking out 17 Air Force Academy batters.
Strasburg played on the 2008 World University Baseball Championships and the 2008 U.S. Olympics Team. His best season in the Bigs was 2012, the year in which he made the All-Star team. He also won the Silver Slugger award that year with a batting average of .277 with a home run, 7 RBIs, and three walks. In 2014, he led the NL in strikeouts. This year, he’s 10-7 through 21 starts, with an ERA of 3.81. Is the bloom off the rose for the 6’4″ 228 lb 27 year-old?
Fall has arrived at the future Paterno Field at BNY Mellon-Beaver Stadium, and we’re looking at a beautiful autumn day for the game with the Aztecs. With a high of 69°F and partly cloudy, neither side should have a significant advantage, other than the fans. There is no good reason for seeing empty seats in this one, aye?
Official Turkey Poop Prediction
Wow! You read all that crap above? I don’t believe you.
Anyhow, let’s wrap this thing up with a prediction for this cupcake game in a “rebuilding year.” I don’t want to dwell too much on it, because when I over think things, they come out crappy. In fact, when I don’t over think things, they come out crappy, too, but who’s counting, already?
Let us pray to Shamma for guidance here. In this turkey’s writing toes, thy divine guidance, the source of all football wisdom and healing, shalt bring prescience to His humble servant poultry, in whose name we pray. Amen.
WTF? Well, it’s my blog and I can write whatever I want, and pray sometimes, too.
The gamblers have expressed great favor for PSU this time, bidding them up to a 15-point favorite at the time I am writing this from an original opening line of 12. Meanwhile, the over/under is 39.5, displaying how little faith Las Vegas’ finest have in Penn State’s ability to score points. Altogether, this would suggest a 27-12 Penn State victory. Never let it be said that I lack faith in the Nittany Lions’ ability not to cover the spread. (How’s that for triple negatives?) Penn State 27, San Diego State 13, and take the over.
I’ll be back after the game for a turkey wrap.