How will Penn State finish?
We all sort of waffled at the season’s outset when I called for our annual predictions. Yes, it was too early, with a veritable plethora of unknowns to cloud the crystal ball at that point. However, now we’ve seen ten games, so we know a lot more. I’m asking you to tell me what you think will happen with Penn State’s remaining two games, plus your bowl prediction: site, opponent, and outcome. I’ll do the same.
I won’t be insulted if you choose not to play. The roller coaster has worn all our asses down, and indeed, some have given up on the Nittany Lions for the year. Moreover, the season-ending injury to Jordan Lucas will daunt some of those who were already discouraged by the team’s inconsistency. Some of you won’t have the time or patience to play my game with me. That’s cool, too. In any case, I’m really interested in your thoughts.
I’ll kick-start it with my own ruminations. I’m an attention hoe, so since I didn’t get any comebacks to what I wrote in the Northwestern game recap regarding the rest of the season — perhaps because you were all too disgusted with the game itself to read it — I’ll repeat some of my drivel below. It will serve as a lead-in to my own season projection and my ultimate reveal of the Official Nittany Turkey ToiletBowl.com Mystery Bowl.
Two Tough Games Ahead
The suckage is real. Bye week or not, White Out or not, there are two tough games ahead, and anyone who favors Penn State in either needs to have his or her head examined. The stars will really have to align for either of the two games to wind up in the W column. Both? We’re looking at astronomical odds.
Oh, sure, I know that Nebraska beat Moo U. … and the Moo U. defense isn’t what it has been in years past. And yeah, I know that Michigan hasn’t got much offense to speak of. But you know what? Both of those teams are well coached, and they know how to use the talent they have. Everybody has flaws, but the winners are those that can win in spite of flaws. Penn State hasn’t shown that it’s in that league yet. They’re still a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team.
Yes, the sanctions against Penn State have caused a talent deficit in some areas and some lack of depth in others. I’m not negating that. What I’m saying is that they could be doing better, given who they are and what they have right here, right now.
Raw talent without coaching is like gold left in the mine.” —paraphrased old Arab saying
There’s a lot of talent on this team, but the motivational aspects seem to be lacking. Guys with exceptional talent playing at 80% are less effective than guys with lesser talent playing at 100%. Imagine what these Penn State players could do if they could somehow be elevated beyond their sometimes lackadaisical and disengaged performances. Coaches like Jim Harbaugh and Mark D’Antonio can get the maximum out of their guys. These Nittany Lions don’t seem to have the fire or the fear of God instilled in them, with a few notable, self-motivated exceptions.
The team must be demoralized after the close loss to Northwestern. Some will say they need the bye week to straighten out their heads as well as their battered bodies. It would be great to see the Nittany Lions freshened up with a determined mindset going into the two remaining games with a winning attitude. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. (Neither did I think so in 2012, when they rallied to beat Wisconsin in overtime to close out a miraculous 8-4 season for Bill O’Brien in the first year of the (cue cello) dreaded sanctions. But the mindset and the coaching staff are different now.)
Yes, I’m saying that Penn State will lose the remaining two games. Michigan should cruise past Indiana this weekend going into the White Out at Beaver Stadium on November 21. Some would think of the Penn State game as a trap, with Michigan going home thereafter to play the huge season-ender against arch-rival Ohio State. That’s fine. Could happen. Crappy Michigan offense or not, though, I’m saying it won’t.
As for Moo, the loss to the Cornhuskers must have been extremely demoralizing — an end to their relevance in the college football playoff picture along with dashed dreams of an unbeaten season. D’Antonio will have his hands full trying to motivate this downcast lot for the final three games. They’ll be able to beat Maryland regardless, but then they have to tackle Ohio State. Sure, tOSU could soften them up for their final game, a fight to see who is lucky enough not to get the Land Grant Trophy, but these perennial wannabes will be fighting for the Citrus vs. the Outback Bowl and they’ll be playing on their home turf against a team with a crappy mindset.
That gives us a 7-5 season for Penn State. To which bowl will they be invited?
Whither Goeth Penn State in the Post-Season?
Boy, that’s a tough one. There are several possibilities, among them the Pinstripe, the Music City, and the Foster Farms. LOL. Toilet Bowls, indeed! I’ll eliminate the Pinstripe in New York, because the Nittany Lions went there last year. So, it’s between Nashville and San Francisco.
I’m going with San Francisco. The Foster Farms Chicken Bowl is played at Levi’s Stadium (actually in Santa Clara), home of the San Francisco 49ers, on December 26. Last year, the Chicken Bowl featured Stanford kicking the shit out of Maryland 45-25 before a putrid announced crowd of 34,780. The sponsors were hoping to fill the stadium, and perhaps Penn State can help with that.
You’ll recall that Foster Farms is famous for selling salmonella bearing chicken in California and elsewhere on the West Coast. This bowl game used to be called the Fight Hunger Bowl — I guess one way to fight hunger is by causing food poisoning. Ahhh, rename it the Ptomaine Bowl! (Does anyone actually know what ptomaine actually is?) Prior to being the Fight Hunger Bowl, this post-season classic was called the Emerald Nut Bowl. A bowl game with such a distinguished history is absolutely poifect for the Nittany Lions this year!
So, whom will the boys face in the Emerald Nuts Hungry Poisoned Chicken Wearing Levi’s Bowl?
This turkey has a great idea! If Oregon can limp through the rest of the season to finish fourth in the Pac-12, they’ll be Penn State’s opponent, in a rematch of the 1995 Rose Bowl, albeit with smaller attendance. No, Ki-Jana won’t be playing, but our 2015 equivalent, Saquon Barkley, will be. No, Kerry won’t be playing, but our brightest hope at QB since those days, Christian Hackenberg, will be. No, the Turkey won’t be attending, but I’ll be watching on TV. Those things will be different, but the outcome will be similar to 1995. The pressure will be off Hack. Unleashed by the coaching brain trust, his full potential will be reached in Santa Clara. The boys will just go out and have fun, playing a lot of pitch and catch between Hack and Godwin/Hamilton/Lewis. The defense will do its job. Final score: Penn State 38, Oregon 20. I’m just glad I won’t be there to hear all those crazy-ass Oregon fans blowing their damn duck calls, which drove me nuts in 1995.
Now, let me put down my pipe and go to sleep.
This superfluous bye-week diatribe has been brought to you by Emerald Nuts and Foster Farm Chicken, neither of whom paid me a damn dime for the plug. I’ll be back with a full and well thought out preview and prediction for the Heap Big White Out Michigan Game next week.