Maryland Terrapins (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) vs. Penn State (3-2, 1-1)
A dreaded noon start at St. Joe Memorial will feature the undefeated Maryland Terrapins and our own Nittany Lions, who can’t play before about 5 pm without waking up and rudely interrupting their somnolent reveries. In spite of their history, being ready is a requirement, not an option. Perhaps now that they have come from behind to beat Minnesota, they’ll have a little more confidence in themselves and won’t appear to be like a reluctant boxer who cringes at the thought of coming out for the bell.
Who dey kidding?
In spite of its impressive w/l record, Maryland has faced only pussies. They throttled Howard 52-13, then beat a couple of crappy Florida directional schools on the road by the combined score of 71-35 before whipping sad-sack Purdue at home 50-7 last week. Only one of its first four opponents currently possesses a winning record, and combined, their record aggregates to 7-12. So, they’ve wound up where they are without having proven much of anything, other than that they can beat cupcakes. The stakes now increase, with mighty Penn State on the horizon. Yep, I said that.
In last week’s thumping of the Boilermakers, the Terps ran for 400 yards on their way to the lopsided victory, while allowing a net 10 yards rushing by Purdue. Without the ability to run, Purdue had to rely on the pass, but since they basically suck at everything they do, managed only 195 yards through the air. Maryland’s stud running back, sophomore Ty Johnson, ran just seven times for 204 yards with a long of 76 yards and two touchdowns. LOL. He averaged 29.1 yards per carry. LOLOLOL. Freshman running back Lorenzo Harrison had seven carries for 78 yards and a touchdown. His long scamper was 62 yards. What did I tell you? Purdue sucks.
Expect a little less ridiculousness on Saturday at SJMS at the Beave.
Last year, ol’ Perry Hills, Maryland’s semi-talented dual-threat Yinzer senior quarterback, burned the Nittany Lions pretty well, running for over 100 yards and a touchdown and throwing for another TD. Penn State was lucky to escape that turnover-laden slopfest with a 31-30 win.
In the Purdue game, Hills was 8-13 for 87 yards passing, with two touchdowns and an interception. Even though Purdue sucks, he was sacked four times. I guess you can rank the Maryland offensive line right up there toward the top of the scale of one to ten, where one is competence and ten is Penn State. Hills also ran or was forced to run 10 times for 18 yards and another touchdown. His long run was 30 yards.
How likely is Likely to break one?
Senior William Likely, a 5-7, 175 lb speedster from Belle Glade, Florida is the big threat on punt and kick returns. (At 5-7, is he a “speedster” or a “water bug”? Enquiring minds want to know.) Purdue did a pretty good job of containing the likely water bug, allowing one 39-yard kick return and two punt returns for a total of four yards. Penn State special teams coverage defenders will have to watch their lanes with this guy on return duty.
Michigan emigre D. J. Durkin is the Maryland head coach now. We don’t know what to expect from him. He probably didn’t have to use much of his playbook to beat the four teams the Terps have faced thus far. Let’s give ol’ D.J. a nice, warm Beaver Stadium welcome — and then beat the crap out of his homeys.
About that so-called rivalry
I wrote the following last year and I still feel the same way:
About this rivalry thing. Get off your Penn State high horse and admit it. Randy Edsall called it a rivalry, but we laughed at him last year. PSU barely beat them this year. They compete for recruits in the same part of the country, and they are both playing similarly crappily, so why shouldn’t this be considered a rivalry, already? If you think a rivalry with Maryland is beneath our dignity and you say they’re not good enough to even carry our jock straps, then you haven’t been watching the sad on-field product that Penn State has produced under James Franklin. For the waning years of St. Joe, we saw a decline to mediocrity in many areas, so this is nothing new. It is hard for fans to grasp, but this is not a team that will compete for a Big Ten crown anytime soon. I don’t care what excuses you throw at me to mitigate the obvious. The proof is in the pudding.
Statistics don’t lie, except sometimes
It is hard to look at Maryland’s stats and draw any conclusions from them, because they haven’t played anyone. At least Penn State has played some reasonable opponents, so you can get a handle on where the strengths and weaknesses are statittieticologically. On the other hand, there are five fingas…
Obviously, in the offensive categories, Maryland looks pretty good. They’re 15th in scoring offense, 7th in rushing offense, and 41st in total offense among NCAA FBS programs. Defensively, they’re 10th in scoring defense, 31st in rushing defense, and 24th in total defense, not surprising because of Durkin’s defensive heritage and the pussies they’ve faced.
Just for the hell of it, let’s look at Penn State in the same areas. The Nittany Lions are 67th in scoring offense, 118th in rushing offense (OMGOMG), and 96th in total offense. Defensively, PSU is 92nd in scoring defense, 105th in rushing defense (OMG), and 69th in total defense (ewww).
Once again, the standout stat for Penn State is third down conversions, where they rank DEAD SOLID-SHIT NEXT-TO-ASS-LAST in the whole NCAA FBS division. That’s #127, with a 25% conversion rate. Only Arkansas State with 24.6% is worse. That suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks!
Maryland takes care of the ball, sporting a +1.0 turnover margin, while the Nittany Lions ain’t so good at that, with a -0.6.
As I might have previously alluded, Maryland’s offensive line bites the big one, as they’re tied for 103rd in sacks allowed. However, the Nittany Lions haven’t been all that great at putting pressure on the QB this year, absent Zettel, Johnson, and Nassib. A sack or two on Hills would be a good thing. Otherwise, he’s liable to wear out the front seven chasing him around all day.
A few of those stats don’t lie at all. Penn State can’t convert third downs and can do much of anything very well. As for Maryland, it remains to be seen. Their statistics might look somewhat different after the Penn State game.
Distinguished Alumnus — Miss Piggy
Well, not really. This week’s distinguished alum is Jim Henson (BA – 1960), creator of Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog, Oscar the Grouch, and the rest of the puppet troupe known as The Muppets. Henson was born in Greenville, Mississippi in 1936 and raised in Leland, Mississippi and later, Hyattsville, Maryland. His puppeteering began in high school, and while a freshman at Maryland, he created Sam and Friends, a five-minute sketch-comedy puppet show that appeared on TV. His degree from Maryland was in home economics, so it was a natural that he should do his initial work in TV as a producer of coffee ads.
Henson’s fame skyrocketed during the 1960s when he joined Sesame Street. He later made feature movies with The Muppets and received many awards for his unique and creative offerings. He died in 1990 after a brief but extreme illness at the age of 53.
As of publication time, it appears as if the weather will be good, partly cloudy with a high of 65°F. That could change due to Hurricane Matthew, if that particular apostle chooses to take a left turn, so keep an eye on the sky. Should Matthew not be a factor, then it will be a nice day for both sides.
The Bottom Line
Time for the much anticipated and highly regarded Official Turkey Poop Prediction. But first, let me say that this is an eerie time for us here in peninsular Florida, waiting for the inevitable clash with nature as Matthew bashes Haiti and heads north through the Bahamas. It has been 12 years since this part of the Sunshine State was nailed by a major storm, but I haven’t forgotten what I went through three times in 2004 for Charley, Francis, and Jeanne. I’m a lot older and more decrepit now as I wait for Matthew. I feel like an immobile quarterback with only the Penn State offensive line to protect me.
I think hurricanes should have surnames. A single given name is not enough. They retire the names of the bad ones so they cannot be used again, which leaves us with a bunch of damn foreign names like Arturo and Chantal. I can hardly wait for Hurricane Svetlana. So, why not add a surname and then retire a fully qualified name, such that the given name can be reused. Andrew, for example, is a fine name, and it should remain in play. Alas, Andrew was a Category Five storm that heavily impacted South Florida in 1992 and was therefore retired. We could reuse Andrew if we named one storm Andrew Carnegie and another, Andrew Mellon, for example. Even if we retired one or more Andrewses, we could still have another, such as Andrew Jackson — oops! OMG, no, that wouldn’t be politically correct! Let’s say Andrew Luck, because it would be uglier’n sin. Where am I going with this? I dunno. Ahhhh, sorry—I digressed.
Well, then. After last year’s 31-30 fumblefest at M&T, one has to wonder what wonderful surprises this year’s pseud0-rivalry game with Maryland will have in store for us. The gamblers don’t seem to give Penn State much respect, as usual. The Nittany Lions opened as five point favorites, which is home field advantage plua a couple of points, but the early betting has made the Terps one-point favorites. OMG. This is Monday, so it all could change as the week progresses, but we’ll use the current spread and over/under as a mere reference point not to be confused with reality, as it were. The over/under is now 57 — it ain’t gonna be a pitchers’ duel unless both teams decide to walk in their sleep.
The line suggests a Maryland victory by the slimmest of margins, so it could go either way. Home field means a lot when it’s SJMS@B, while Maryland has played nothing but cupcakes thus far. Advantage: Penn State. So, this game is ripe for an overlay. I just hope that the PSU offense is awake at noon and stays awake and inspired the entire game. That attitude is the big variable that could swing this thing one way or t’other. If the Nittany Lions behave like they did in the first half of the Minnesota game, they’ll surely lose.
Given its third-down problems, I’m not convinced that this year’s offense can put the consistent 30 points on the board needed to offset the crappy defense. So, yeah, I expect it to be close, sloppy, and while it could go either way, as long as they’re willing to give me a one-point cushion, I’ll once again take the Lions and the point(s). Penn State 29, Maryland 27. I’m taking the under, but just barely.
The Rest of the Big Ten
The season got a lot more interesting after last week’s win over Minnesota primarily because Michigan and Ohio State look to be on a stratum of their own, with everyone else posturing beneath them in a veritable sea of mediocrity. The best part of that is that everyone else is reduced to pretender status, which opens possibilities for Penn State wins in games we heretofore considered automatic losses. Looking down the schedule, after Maryland, a bye week, and the loss to Ohio State, we’re looking at what should be an easy win over Purdue, then Iowa, Indiana, Rutgers, and Moo U. The fortunes of Iowa and Moo U. have been notably foul of late, while Indiana is moving up in the world. Rutgers simply blows.
Who knows what to expect in Minnesota, where the Gophers will host the Iowa Hawkeyes, who just suffered an embarrassing loss to Northwestern after opening the season with an equally embarrassing loss to North Dakota State? Moo U. should be able to handle Brigham Young at East Lansing. Indiana will provide some surprising resistance to Ohio State at the Horseshoe, while no one will watch (or care about) Purdue vs. Illinois. Michigan will travel to Piscataway to deal the Scarlet Knights their second huge loss in a row. Nebraska and Wisconsin have the week off.
I’ll be back after the game with more insane ramblings.