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.
lawrence hamilton says
I’m buying it….except that…a loss at NW? I don’t follow that team….does anyone? But I think PSU beats them on their turf. UM might be another story. That creepy nutcase of a coach actually knows something about the game and I think he’s good at getting his players fired up for this. I think they beat PSU on our turf…I’m just sayin’. But I like your style!
The Nittany Turkey says
Good to see you back, Lawrence. I think James Franklin is 0-3 vs. Northwestern, dating back to his Vanderbilt years. NWU has won the two most recent games against Penn State, in 2014 and 2015. The 2014 game, a home loss for PSU, was a 29-6 blowout, the worst game of that year. They always play tough at Ryan Stadium, even back in the Paterno years. Although PSU won most of those games, they were nevertheless nail-biters.
I figure thatIndiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Northwestern, will ultimately produce one or two losses, but I’ll retain my pre-season optimism at this point.
Vegas set the o/u to 9.5
Hasn’t moved since open.
The Nittany Turkey says
Hello, Drozz. Hope you’ve had a good off-season.
I think 9.5 is a decent o/u. Looks like the money agrees with my prediction.
This will be a fun season, methinks.
Hope you had a great offseason too!
Anyhoo, I think I’m taking the over (doesn’t include conference championships or bowl games).
Personnel wise, I don’t see much drop off even with losing the likes of Godwin and Bell. As solid players as they were, we have folk that can step in the early games and be ready for the brutal last half of the season. This also might be the best stable of RBs psu has ever had.
What a difference a year makes. I called for more of the same last year, and I’ve never been happier to be wrong. I predict PSU going 12-0. Because I rewatched the OSU game and I think we have a better shot at winning there than people think. Also I’m insanely biased.
Some more PSU football props below. Any feedback is most welcome.
Big Ten chanpion: PSU +400 (3rd best odds)
National Championship: PSU +2000
Heisman: McSorely +2100
Heisman: Barkelel: +1200
Personally I like Darnold out of USC. His play, especially his elusiveness in the pocket,reminded me of Big Ben. Darnold opened at +750. Was holding out for a positive shift but the money is pouring in on him. Now at +300. D’oh.
Have a great season everyone
The Nittany Turkey says
Now’s the time to be optimistic, but what do we really know at this point. We have a potentially potent offense (some are mentioning 1994) and all that. Hell, the offensive line might even be coming together. Barkley and McSorley are mentioned in Heisman discussions (and in betting, as you bring out). What is being said about the defense? Not much, other than “we’ll see” whether the pass rush is going to be there. Lotta ass-uming out there that with this great offense and a typical PSU defense, the Nittany Lions are in a position to conquer the world.
In the words of “they”, WE’LL SEE!
brent glading says
Thoroughly enjoy reading your blogs, looking forward to another year of reading your entertaining bullshit. I agree with your predictions although I think we get by NW and loss to I O we’re
The Nittany Turkey says
Thanks Brent! Looks like your comment got truncated somehow, so I hope you’ll get to finish your thoughts for my other five readers!
Big Al says
It’s hard to disagree with the Vegas line. 10 and 2 and 9 and 3 are the two most likely records based on what we know right now. I’m going to wait until the pre-season camp is finished before making my prediction for the season. Based on roster talent alone, State should win 10 games since we have better players than everybody we play except for Ohio State and Michigan. And Michigan’s talent is young and inexperienced and hasn’t played in a night game at the Beav. State may be favored in every game except Ohio State.
However, you can never be sure how much of our superior talent won’t play because of injury and disciplinary action. Also, I can’t shake a feeling that Karma has some payback in store for last’s year’s magical run where State seemed to get every possible break. Plus I think B1G defenses will be better prepared for Morehead’s scheme with a year’s worth of film to study it. And I won’t be surprised if some other schools start using some of his concepts- I saw Youtube clip of Indiana pre season practice and they were running State’s basic run pass option. It looked pretty impressive since Lagow is fairly quick for weighing 250lbs and has a cannon for an arm.
The Nittany Turkey says
Thanks for the comments, Al.
I didn’t account for the Morehead familiarization factor. Given last year, there should be plenty of “film” for study by the opposition. (“Film” is in quotes because no one uses film anymore. I would put “tape” in quotes, too, for the same reason. And reviewing “footage”… it just bothers me. All archaic vestiges of past recording methods. We need new terminology because it suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks! But I digress.) Anyhow, there will be less of a surprise factor indeed, as opposing coaches will have had time to review whatever the hell we want to call the coaches’ peep show.
And there’s still doubt about whether PSU will have much of a pass rush. Will it be up to last years’ standard? Probably not in September, anyway.
But the fun will be in finding out.
Well I suppose I could gaze into my crystal ball or just pull some results out of my ass like I usually do, but at this point in the preseason, it’s all a crap shoot because we don’t know if anyone is going to get hurt in camp, if the coaches will alter their game calling philosophy from last year or if last year we were just inordinately lucky, never to repeat the same results again. Plus I have no sense beyond OSU who has what in the B1G. So this year I’ve turned to College Football Analytics and let them do the picking for dear old state. They apparently have some fancy, shmancy mathematical method of predicting the Winner of each game along with the score, which they even take out to one decimal point! Here’s their site.
Just select Penn State from the drop down list under Team and voila-Penn State will finish 12-0! Can’t argue with analytics right.
So from their summary, “College Football Analytics, using ratings that “are based off of the Pythagorean Expectation Theorem and calculated with the adjusted offensive and defensive scoring efficiencies,” picks PSU to finish the season undefeated at 12-0 thanks to a roughly 11-point win over Pittsburgh, a one-point victory over Michigan, and a 42-32 win over Ohio State in October, among other outcomes.” I didn’t make that up, that’s what they said.
“All scoring efficiencies are adjusted to reflect home field advantage and the strength of the competition. The adjusted scoring efficiencies for offense and defense are shown as well as the offense and defense of the given team’s opponents that culminates with a total strength of schedule calculation.”
The site also projects Alabama, USC, and Washington to finish unbeaten (They have OSU with three losses; Oklahoma, PSU & Michigan). How can you not like those results and if that’s the case, hello playoffs!
Apparently Athlon Sports, is also predicting that the Lions will run the table in the regular season. Shazaam!
So is this correct? Who the hell knows, but I believe they have a remote chance to go 12-0, but most likely will be an 11-1 team, with get this-a possible loss to Northwestern (that team just scares the shit out of me, because we always play like crap on their field and it’s another noon kick). Notice I did not include OSU in the loss column. I’m betting even with a possible loss to NW, they still beat OSU and that win get’s them a ticket to the B1G Championship game.
I’m going to reserve my right to pick wins and losses the week of the game if that’s okay with you, but you get the sense of where I think their season is going.
I’m a believer in the talent they have and the coaching staff. I’m also counting on them to stay relatively injury free (but we all know how that goes) and for Barkley, McSorely and the other skill guys (Mike Gesicki a possible All-American; who would have thought that a couple of years ago?) to have a better season than last year, behind what I think will finally be a traditional and really good Big 10 OL. The defense has the talent, but needs to play themselves into being an above average unit especially on the line, so this could be the year.
I think next year is a rebuilding year (sort of) and I’m thinking they’ll be looking for a new OC after they go 15-0!
Glad we’re all still around to enjoy another season!
The Nittany Turkey says
Ahhhh, the Sanguinarians are out there this year. Redoubled, in spades, as it were. Waxing metaphorically in fading memories of contract bridge games of years past, I am. I went into those games with high expectations and generally lost my shirt to cutthroat players who were more intent on winning than bullshitting. Bullshitting is my game, but I digress.
Rampant optimism abounds this year because the 2016 season almost finished on an uptick. Just like the Steelers almost won the Super Bowl in 1992, had Neil O’Donell hadn’t thrown the ball to the Cowboys — twice. Oh, yeah. Optimism. Yeah, it’s natural this time o’ year.
The Pythagorean Expectation formula is, of course, bullshit. It works sometimes for MLB because of the large number of games in a season. It works a little crappier for NBA, who have 82 game seasons. For a 12-game college football season, and giving some wild-ass scoring differentials in all but the most hard fought, important games, it is pure bullshit, using arbitrary exponents and a bunch of other assumptions that make a dartboard look good.
So is this correct? No. No prognostication technique yields absolute certitude. If one did, you wouldn’t know about it because whoever developed it would be too busy breaking the sports books and pocketing the proceeds.
You are right that the defense needs to be tough, but will they? Seems like a lot of press has been given to the wonderful offense, but there are question marks on defense that need to be resolved, and there ain’t a lot of talking about it. With the pass rush losing its primary components, again, it’s a “we’ll see” situation. Once I see them get through Akron, Pitt, and Georgia State allowing fewer than seven points per game, I might buy into having enough of a defense to navigate the Big Ten schedule, which won’t be devoid of bumps in the road.
I went out on a limb for 10-2. The more I think about it, the more I think that there’s another loss in there somewhere. Michigan? Iowa?
How can I even think that way with the rampant euphoria in the air. Well SOMEONE has to!
Franklin struck while the iron was hot, getting six years of lavish contractual obligation from his soul sister Sandy the Barbour and Barron von Richthofen. If they have a 9-3 or an 8-4 season, the powers that be might have some egg on their pretty faces. Then, they’ll be wanting to give Franklin the Charlie Strong bum’s rush!
Random thoughts, but I digress.
LMAO double! Precisely the response I was trying to get and you did not disappoint!
The Nittany Turkey says
Always happy to amuse my fearless readers.
James Conner had a decent, 98-yard day doing reps with the pre-season Stillers yesterday, but he’s got to get over the rookie jitters. A big part of the offense is the swing pass hitting the running back, which failed on two occasions because Conner forgot that he had to catch the ball before turning his head downfield and running.
Ahh, but I digress. The time for sneaking under the radar and not be taken seriously was last year. The pendulum now swings. As Big Al has stated, when the DCs around the conference have more to analyze than Fordham vs. Army, which they do have now, things get a little tougher for PSU’s Two-Heisman Candidate + Geez, Ain’t Gesicki Suddenly Great Offense. (I’ll admit that I thought Gesicki was a total bust the first year when he couldn’t catch a ball if someone handed it to him. Perhaps as much of that had to do with the other total bust who was throwing the ball to him.)
Meanwhile, the pundits are so enthralled by the offense that they can’t be bothered analyzing the defense. Three key figures in the pass rush, Brandon Bell (signed by Cincinnati Bengals), Evan Schwann (signed by the NJ Giants), and Garrett Sickels (signed by Indianapolis Colts), ain’t there no more, and the linebacker corps led by serviceable Jason Cabinda, who’ll need a lot of help. I’m not as worried about the secondary as I have been in the recent past, although Golden’s loss to the 49ers (ultimately, signed by the Steelers) will hurt. If he can maintain his passion for the game, Marcus Allen is a helluva safety, and Reid and Haley are among the best cornerback tandem in the B10. In summation, the jury hasn’t yet been seated, and, even if this defense manages to navigate the relatively smooth waters of September well, I’ll need to see how they look in October. We’ll call this the “We’ll See Defense”.
Egg, maybe. Pretty faces? Nein, nein, nein, komrade!
The Nittany Turkey says
You don’t think Sandy is pretty?
Just kidding. She couldn’t win a beauty contest if the rest of the competitors were the Baltimore Ravens — and boy, are they ugly!