Nittany Lions (1-1) host Temple Owls (1-1)
Owls’ meat will be served up in large doses at St. Joe Memorial Stadium at Beaver on Saturday, along with a controversial side dish of St. Joe memorializing. The latter has detracted somewhat from the majesty of this in-state rivalry clash as opposing sides square off, spout off, and generally jack off.
If people want to commemorate St. Joe’s mythical 50th anniversary, so what? I know that the opposition believes that we all should move on and put the embarrassment of the past five years (and more that was kept under wraps) behind us. But hell, it’s a fucking football game and lionizing a formerly revered football coach is all that’s going on here. No one is validating the Tickle Monster’s behavior or that of the administration, which might well have swept it under the rug (because that’s what universities do), or the that of the coach who might have been complicit in the subrugxation. This is about football — the well-known culture of football at Penn State — says the Turkey tongue-in-cheek.
James Franklin’s take on the whole thing? “Joe Paterno did a lot of wonderful things for the University, but right now our focus is on Temple.”
But I digress. Like Franklin, that’s all I’ll say on that sordid subject.
On the other hand, there will be players from the 1966 team, which should make many of us old farts happy. I mean, everybody loves Mike Reid, right? How about Steve Smear? Yeah, these dudes are in their 70s now, just like some of us. They were the heroes of our youth, which they can’t bring back, but it’s the next best thing.
Let’s get to the damn game, already!
Moving right along to this weeks hotly contested in-state rivalry, you’re all aware of what the mighty Owls did to Penn State in Philadelphia last year, but to regurgitate, those damn pesky spotted Owls prevailed 27-10 and registered 10 sacks on hapless Christian Hackenberg. They also put Nyeem Wartman-White out of commission for the year. That win snapped a Penn State winning streak that spanned 60 damn years. It was a total clusterfuck.
Why it won’t happen this year.
This year’s game is on friendly home turf. Last year’s was the first contest of the year, while this year the Nittany Lions have two games under their capacious belts. This year, while largely the same Five Traffic Cones exist, Penn State has a quarterback who can scramble a bit and who might even be capable of getting rid of the ball when a sack is imminent. (Let us pray that getting rid of the ball means an incomplete pass, not a change of possession.) Besides, James Franklin says, “We’ve improved dramatically, but we still have a ways to go.” Moreover, Joe Moorhead beat Matt Rhule’s Temple team in 2013, so he’s going to do it again this year with a slightly more talented offense. Last, but not least, All-America stud linebacker Tyler Matakevich is gone, hopefully providing the Pittsburgh Steelers with the kind of performance he exhibited against Penn State last year.
Why? Because I said so.
Anyhow, Temple’s stud running back Jahad Thomas might miss the game due to some kind of thumb injury, too, adding fuel to the fire.
Last week the Owls rolled over the Stony Brook Seawolves (snicker) 38-0. Stony Brook is a FCS team in the CAA, which I’m pretty sure is the Canadian Automobile Association, forcing four turnovers and tripling the over-matched Seawolves’ yardage output. Complete domination only begins to describe this contest, which was over at 8:54 of the opening quarter when Temple first scored.
Ahhh, but in spite of that masterful, dominating performance against Stony Brook, Temple sports the 96th ranked rushing offense and the 116th ranked passing offense in the FBS. In other words, their offense suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks!
They do it with defense. Temple ranks 14th in total defense and they’ve recorded four sacks in two games. They must be salivating when they think they could increase that to 14 sacks in three games, but it ain’t going to happen. Not in OUR house!
Remember who the Owls played. They were porous against the run in their first game with Army, whose ground game amassed 326 yards in an easy win. So let’s assume that Saquon Barkley will make owl meat out of them if he gets any help at all from the older and moldier Five Traffic Cones of Penn State. (If they were all mah people they’d be the Five Traffic Cohns, but I digress. Oy vey.)
How’s Penn State looking in the stats?
Oh, hell, I’m glad you asked. Let me check. (Sound of pages turning.)
Look! The Nittany Lions are 83rd in total offense. That’s a big improvement from last year. Even third down conversions improved from 125th to 115th — that’s ten whole positions! And, glorioski, the Red Zone Offense is tied for 45th at .900! That one ain’t too shabby.
However, our defense has really fallen off, with most of them forgetting how to tackle during the off-season. When is the last time you can remember Penn State being 65th in total defense? I can’t. Rushing defense ranks 116th. Ouch! This is what I’m talking about, a reorientation that Nittany Lions fans will have to undergo in order to derive entertainment from this year’s team. They can’t go out and make free agent acquisitions that will bolster the defense. In the sportswriter’s vernacular, it is what it is.
After the Owls’ defense did so poorly against Army, Temple head coach, former Penn State linebacker, and State College native Matt Rhule organized a ping-pong tournament for his players. Wait, what? Perhaps James Franklin could take a leaf out of Rhule’s book. I think maybe he should up the ante by holding a beauty pageant for the team, replete with swimsuit competition and Miss Congeniality (an appropriate title for the Nittany Lion defenders). Now that‘ll get them going!
Pullin’ and Trappin’
No, we’re not talking about the Five Cones here. Well, not much. Not here in our house. Not now. Nuh-uhh. We’re talking about trap game potential.
The Nittany Lions could well look past Temple to see the Michigan Wolverines on the near horizon. All the great components for a trap game are there: Lions’ big letdown after a tough loss, Owls pumped up with something to prove, Lions looking past Temple to Michigan, noon start, Franklin’s mouth — it’s all there. All but one. Not in our house! Not now! Not ever!
We have no idea when Jason Cabinda and Saeed Blacknall will be returning from their injuries, because Franklin doesn’t ever divulge injury information. Both are big losses if they don’t play.
We Had to Do It
It ain’t only Penn State that has to deal with the skeletons of its past. I mean a little Schadenfreude here will help us feel better about ourselves, right? Where the hell am I going with this?
For every Sandusky, there is a Cosby.
That’s right, folks, this week’s extinguished alumnus of the week is the Owls’ own Cos, William Henry “Bill” Cosby, America’s former favorite kid-friendly stand-up comic, TV dad who shared his TV wife with Ahmad Rashad. While Cos’ undergraduate career was at Temple, which he departed to pursue a career in comedy back in 1961, he later was awarded masters and doctoral degrees from University of Massachusetts at Amherst where his Ed.D. dissertation topic was on the use of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids as a teaching tool in elementary schools.
Fast forward to now. The 79 year-old Cosby has been accused by 60 women of rape, drug facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery, child sexual abuse, and sexual misconduct, with the earliest alleged incidents taking place in the mid-1960s. Numerous related lawsuits against Cosby are pending, and he faces one felony charge of aggravated indecent assault in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He surrendered to authorities on December 30, 2015 and was released on $1 million bail.
Whoooooooo! Whooooooo! Not you…
Yeah. So, there you go.
Saturday promises to be a nice fall day at St. Joe Memorial Stadium at Beaver for the most part with a high of 77°F and the possibility of a thunderstorm or a shower. It is raining here now. I thought I would throw that in.
Finally, A Prediction, Already!
As our friends with the green eye-shades and suspenders see it, Penn State goes into this as a nine-point favorite over the Owls with an over/under of 50. That suggests an outcome that will render happy all of us but the most delusional Nittany Lions Fans (who think we’re just on the verge of cracking the Top Ten), a successful home outing with a final score of something like 30-20 in favor of the good guys.
Well, now, we have some different ideas about that here. See, Temple only thinks they have a defense, as do some Penn State fans who are in awe of former Penn Stater Matt Rhule. “Like, Penn State linebackers rule, man!” Yeah, right. Unless Trace McSorley fumbles three times and throws a couple of picks, I see this one going all the Lions’ way. Saquon Barkley will have a career day running on a defense that couldn’t stop Army. The worst problem he’ll have is moving the Five Traffic Cones out of his damn way. Sweet revenge! Penn State 44, Temple 13. Take the Über.
I’ll be back after the game with my sarcastic, semi-serious comments.
Big Al says
Turkey, you must have been drinking the Kool Ade again – and it must have something more in it than just sugar. Temple’s run defense did suck against Army, but Rhule gave a pretty good explanation why at his mid week press conference last week – poor preparation by him and lack of discipline by the defense. They prefer to attack and converge on the ball carrier and you can’t do that against a triple option team. Each player has an assignment and they have to carry out the same assignment play after play after play. Basically the defense got bored and started freelancing and the offense lost their poise because of the limited number of possessions and started pressing. Also, Stony Brook is a slightly better than average CAA team. Don’t you know the CAA is the SEC of the FCS?? (actually the Missouri Valley Conference is, by Espin likes to hype the CAA as much as the real SEC)
Since Dear Old State has only one true running threat – Barkley, I expect Temple to key on Barkley and dare McFumble to beat them with his legs and passing. And he will eventually beat them, provided he doesn’t commit more than 2 turnovers. Temple is a better team than most Penn State fans believe (Phil Steele rates their talent as being similar to Indiana and Minnesota and significantly better than Maryland and Rutgers) and this game will NOT be an easy win.
My Prediction is State 27 Temple 23. The outcome will be in doubt until the 4th quarter when Penn State finally gets a two score cushion. However, Temple gets a score in garbage time to beat the spread. Pass on the over/under and take Temple getting 9 points.
As a bonus, here’s another fun fact about Penn State football. A week after getting “only” 150 yards on 41 rushes, Kent State managed to “gash” North Carolina A&T for 93 yards on 46 carries. And, despite playing 4 quarters and 4 overtimes, Kent’s offense generated 4 fewer total yards against A&T than they did against State. Now, North Carolina A&T probably IS the best team in their FCS conference, but their conference probably is the Sun Belt of FCS. I have a feeling Temple will get at least 150 yards rushing even if Jihad doesn’t play.
The Nittany Turkey says
Hey Al, this is my last chance for some optimism until the Maryland game. It will be interesting to see how Maryland fares against my local homies from UCF this weekend after the Knights got stomped by Michigan last week.
I will have an adequate opportunity to rebound to my normal cynical negativism next week against the Wolverines, whom the Sanguinarians think we have a chance to beat. I can hardly contain my sarcasm when I hear shit like that.
OK, at least you have PSU winning, albeit not by a mile. I like to see a variety of divergent opinions, so someone emerges as a near genius instead of everybody looking either slightly smart and agreeable or like a bunch of agreeable idiots. So, I’m happy to be an outlier.
Well I do agree that the outcome won’t be the same as last year. Yeah Temple will stuff the box, but between McSorely being able to throw the ball and get completions and move his ass a bit, Barkley should have some highlight reel runs. I also think our “slightly less-offensive” offensive line (I’ve given up on the “traffic cones” moniker NT, that’s so 2015!) is getting better albeit slooooowly, although left tackle does still appear to be an issue (where are you Paris Palmer?)
The defense does worry me a bit as I see signs of last year all over the place-lack of containment, poor tackling, over pursuit and the affect of lack of depth and inexperience along the front line and linebacker positions. Will it get better? I surely hope so!
But this is the Temple I’m used to and while the game may have it’s moments, the tribute to JoePa, which no one seems to have a clue of what’s going to occur, but whatever they do will certainly piss a bunch of people off and with the now annual “stripe out” game special effects (don’t know how that’s going to look at High Noon with a crowd of about 90K, but we’ll see), should have the Owls so overwhelmed and disoriented that the Lions will continue to ring up 30+ points (and perhaps more) on Saturday and with the defense hopefully settling down, I’m going to predict a 38-14 Lion victory.
The Nittany Turkey says
I’ve adopted Five Traffic Cones and will stick with it until they morph into movable meat. I think the moniker was originated (by you) in 2014. It was a good characterization then, and it remains so now.
Now, to find a good name for the defense of 2016. Similar to the Dolphins’ “No-Name Defense” of the distant past, we could call them “The No-Tackle Defense.” That’s lame, but apt. I’m looking for ideas here.
I saw some of that shit going on with the Steelers on Monday night, but they do fortunately have an offense that can overcome some defensive lapses. Not unlike the reorientation that will be required to enjoy the current brand Penn State football, it was a multi-year adaptation for me to appreciate the offensive-minded Steelers.
The Paterno 50th Anniversary celebration will be muted, no doubt, by the crap that has been flying around. When the Daily Collegian editorialized scornfully, you know that there was some kind of “oops factor” in Old Main. So, they’ll probably honor the teams more than St. Joe himself, or something sadly politically correct. Wouldn’t want to project a Paternocentric Culture of Football (and that ain’t Acidophilus), would we?
Since we agree generally on the way the Temple game will go, I’m happy with your prediction.
K. John says
McSorley turns the ball over three more times. The defensive line continue to beat their guys like a drum like they have the last two weeks but sadly continue to be out of position allowing Temple to stay in the game far later than they should. Tommy Stevens comes in after McSorley attempts another pass he has no business throwing leading to a pick, but this one won’t be with the game on the line.
Penn State 28, Temple 24
The Nittany Turkey says
I believe K. John’s account has been hacked. Is our favorite Sanguinarian in Perpetuity this disillusioned with the 2016 Nittany Lions?
Enquiring minds want to know.
K. John says
Until proven otherwise, yes. I do like Joe Moorhead and think he will do a great job with the offense but the slow starts, stupid mistakes and what I see as odd personnel decisions, leave me with little confidence in Franklin.