Time for Penn State Football Again!
Hello, my six devoted readers! It’s time to kick off yet another Penn State football season, the fourteenth since the inception of this blog. With this turkey’s sparkling prediction track record in mind, I’m certain that you are all awaiting this season’s prognostications with bated breath (or baited, as the case may be, for those of you with fishy breath).
Epic fail in 2016, but who’s complaining?
Let’s start with a look at my miserable failure last year. I bitched about the tough September schedule, and proceeded to worry about the quarterback selection and the defensive line. I turned out to be correct about September, as the Nittany Lions navigated those rough seas to a 2-2 record. However, the quarterback and defensive line issues got resolved, resulting in the boys winning the rest of their regular season games, including a shocker over those dullards from Ohio State in October. A trip to the Rose Bowl was the reward.
Indeed, I picked the Lions to beat the Buckeyes, which was my major triumph for the year. However, I also had the boys losing to Iowa and Moo U., which were epic fails for this turkey. Instead of the 8-4 finish I predicted, they wound up 10-2 and went on to beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship. Sadly, PSU ended the season with a wild and woolly 52-49 loss to USC in the Granddaddy of them All.
Great season for the Kitties, far exceeding the expectations offered at the time by this turkey.
So, what of 2017?
I must say that a lot of euphoria pervades the media pundits in the wake of last season’s success for Penn State. Wild-ass predictions such as #5 pre-season rankings and a repeat as Big Ten Champs abound. ESPN puts two Penn Staters in its list of the Top Ten college players this year – the only team with that distinction. All dangerous thinking this time of year, which if not handled properly by James Franklin and staff, could go to players’ heads and affect their performance on the field.
Meanwhile, Franklin was smart enough to get his contract extended while the getting was good. His bosom buddy Sandy Barbour made sure she threw plenty of money toward her favorite coach.
All that having been said, we need to look at the forthcoming opponents for 2017. As usual, I’ll be spewing a lot of unfounded assertions because it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want here. If you want accuracy and well researched features, there are enough alternative sites to make you think. On the other hand, if you want bullshit come here, and I’ll merely piss you off.
It is a process, and it unfolds…
The season kicks off with Akron, and no one expects the Zips to be up to the task. The Lions go to 1-0 on September 2.
Unlike last year’s loss to Pitt, the Lions will shitt on Pitt on September 9. The Panthers are going to thoroughly suck this year, although
James Conner and Nathan Peterman will be returning on offense to provide a few thrills for the Pantherettes. People who were clamoring for a restoration of the Pitt series will shut up after this year’s debacle. 2-0. [My original statement that James Conner would be returning to Pittsburgh was slightly off. He’ll be in Pittsburgh, alright, but with the Steelers, not the Panthers! –Ed.]
I even had to look up the Georgia State mascot, because I had no frigging idea! I was talking with Artificially Sweetened about the possibility of a non-football related trip on September 16, thinking that it was the Pitt game. I saw “Panthers” on my schedule. But it’s the Georgia State Panthers, and they bite the big one. They’ve been playing football down in Atlanna for only 20 years. This year, they’ll convert the former Turner Field for football use and play there. This one is at the Beave, and this one is win #3 in September. 3-0.
The Big Ten Opener might provide some thrills and chills – not! No game with Iowa is ever exciting. (You just KNEW I was going to bring up the 6-4 classic, right!) Now, we have the Moorhead offense to get us out of the single digits, so no worries there. On the other hand, the Hawkeyes might give us a few worries since they’re returning a good collection of players and the game is being played at Kinnick Stadium, so they’ve got some stuff going for them. But, no. On September 23, after the game is played, PSU will be 4-0.
Back home the Lions go to wrap up their September schedule with Indiana. The Hoosiers basically blow, and will be training a new coach and a new QB, although a lot of experienced starters are returning. Nevertheless, 5-0 and 2-0 in the conference at the end of September.
Let’s take a break here, because it is a good time to take a break here. I don’t know why I needed to tell you that. I could have just come back and started writing again. But I wanted you to know that I take breaks. No one can lay it on as thick as I do without taking a break.
Northwestern at home has typically been a formidable opponent for the Nittany Lions. I don’t know what it is about a half-full stadium and the purple uniforms, but the Wildcats seem to have Penn State’s number. So, it seems, does Pat Fitzgerald. Can I bring myself to predict a loss here? I figure that between Iowa and NWU, we’re going to have one loss. Two non-division opponents that typically give us trouble on their home turf. I guess I predicted a win over Iowa, so this one has to go the other way. The lesser cats prevail in OT, and head toward the bye week with a bubble bursting 5-1 record.
Michigan ain’t all that this year. They are in the proverbial “rebuilding year,” which couldn’t happen to a nicer guy than Jim Harbaugh in a nicer situation than a St. Joe Memorial Stadium white-out. The Wolverines might be the toughest opponent thus far, just because they have a crazy but excellent football coach, but the Lions are playing at home before a crowd that really, really, really appreciates beating Michigan. Our boys will be coming off a bye week. This might be a tougher nut to crack than you think. Nits win at home. So, 6-1.
I think I won’t be predicting a win for the Lions over Ohio State at the Horseshoe this year. Last year’s pie-in-the-sky, straight-out-of-my ass prediction came true. The stars aligned and I got lucky. So did Penn State. Urbz had some problems last year and they all came out to rear their ugly head in the PSU game, but all indications are that things will be humming this year and the Buckeyes will be coming off a bye week to boot. I think that whoever wins this game will wind up playing the Badgers for the Big Ten championship. So, this time, while I’m going to hope for a win, I still can’t predict one. Lions will keep it close, though, for the first half of the second half, because they’re a second half team. Then, the bottom falls out. 6-2, through October 28.
Moo U., our former Big Ten selected rival before the Big Ten came up with the dubious rotating so-called rivalries with Rutgers and Maryland or Maryland and Rutgers, depending on which year it is (I’m so confused!). The Spartans, with sourpuss coach Mark Dantonio, have been formidable up to last year. Now, they suck and they’re a bunch of alleged sex offenders, too. This team has problems galore! Even with the unsmiling one’s best defensive efforts, the Spartans will fall to the Nittanistical Lions. We’ll be stuck looking at that Charlie-Foxtrot Land Grant Trophy for another year. 7-2.
Next are one of our two current rotating rivals, Big Ten version: Rutgers. They’re not rivals. They blow. Homecoming in State College in mid-November — now we’re dealing with s different kind of white-out, as provided by Mother Nature. Oh, well, get the damn snow shovels out. Alumni like Homecoming wins. They’ll definitely get one. 69-0. 8-2.
Ahhhh… a Nebraska game in November at St. Joe Memorial Stadium. OMG OMG OMG. Used to be something to look forward to. Ain’t that much now. Cornhuskers doing a little rebuilding because Tommy Armstrong is finally gone after what? Eight years or so? Mike Riley has perhaps turned the beat around, but the Lions got to get percussion. 9-2.
And, last but certainly least, our Jim Delany chosen rotating rivalry game opponent this year is Maryland, and we’ll be playing on Terp turf. They’re not rivals. They blow. Win. Maybe a close one for an anticlimax scare or two. 10-2.
Wrapping it up…
Now, listen. I’m saying that PSU is not going to the Big Ten championship game this year. No, no, no. That’s where the Buckeyes are going. Read it and weep. However, a 10-2 record should get a decent bowl game, with an infinitesimally slim shot at the College Football Playoffs. The untested edge rush must solidify by the end of September for all this to go Penn State’s way. If it doesn’t, and if injuries happen, then, we’re looking at a much more disappointing season. However, now is the time to be optimistic, so 10-2 is my story. I’m a little queasy about that, as you can tell, as I believe that it is based on the pre-season euphoria produced by last year’s surprising success. Could another loss happen, say Iowa or Michigan? Yes, surely, it could. And stumbling in September would be bad, bad indeed.
What do you think? I want to know.