Penn State Blows Out Northwestern 31-7
Mighty #4 Penn State (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) showed offensive flaws, but were good enough to dispel nooner doubts with a 31-7 road win over the Northwestern Wildcats (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten). With Pat Fitzgerald’s Northwestern defense concentrating on stopping Saquon Barkley, Trace McSorley was left to do his thing, which our crappy offensive line fortunately allowed him to do. T-Mac produced his best game of the year, albeit against a somewhat shitty Wildcats defense.
McSorley could have been even better had he not channeled Hack on a few throws. He still wound up with a highly respectable 24-34 for 245 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. Receivers were having no problems freeing themselves from Northwestern defenders. McSorley received only moderate pressure from the Wildcats’ pass rush. Abetted by the Nittany Lions’ complicit offensive line, they recorded four sacks and two hurries on T-Mac, and another sack on Tommy Stevens during garbage time.
Saquon Barkley was bottled up in the first half, recording negative yardage. He wound up the day with 75 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns, including a 53-yard beauty that redeemed a performance that might have put a crimp in his Heisman chances. Would someone please send us an offensive line?
Northwestern Defensive Woes
Northwestern’s already shaky defense was further depleted by a couple of targeting ejections to two top defenders, linebacker Paddy Fisher and safety Godwin Igwebuike, who had a combined total of 17 tackles. Northwestern also shot themselves in the foot with penalties, giving up three first downs on flagged plays.
PSU Defensive Highs
The Penn State defense shut out Northwestern until garbage time, forcing three turnovers and holding Clayton Thorson to a 19-36, 142 yard performance, with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Thorson was relieved late in the game by Matt Alviti, who went 4-7.
One more thing. Field goals. This isn’t rocket science. Tyler Davis was good last year. What happened? The excuses regarding a new long snapper and a new holder don’t wash now that half a season has passed — and it doesn’t get easier from here, with Michigan following the bye week.
Moo U. Knocks off #7 Michigan, 14-10
The Spartans’ dominance over the Wolverines once again evidenced itself in da Big House, as the Moo U. Spartans (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten) came to play, beating the favored home team Michigan Wolverines (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten) 14-10. It was the eighth win in the past ten games for Sparty.
In a game played under horribly rainy conditions at times, Michigan conducted a long opening drive eating up over seven minutes of game clock, but could only manage a field goal. Moo U. subsequently leapfrogged to a lead, never to relinquish it. They led 14-3 at halftime. Backup Michigan quarterback John O’Korn, filling in for injured starter Wilson Speight, threw three interceptions, and the Wolverines lost two fumbles.
Speight Has Three Broken Vertebrae
Looking toward Penn State’s next game with the Wolverines, we’ll probably be seeing O’Korn at the helm, as starter Wilson Speight looks to be done for the season. He was diagnosed with three broken vertebrae.
Sooners Swoon in Norman
The Nittany Lions can move up a notch in the rankings this week as #3 Oklahoma Sooners (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) fell to the Iowa State Cyclones (3-2, 1-1 Big 12), 38-31.
Worthy of #3?
I don’t know, but if that offensive line doesn’t find itself and the field goal situation doesn’t improve, that ranking will plummet during the next couple of games. While Michigan has struggled on offense with both Speight and O’Korn, their defense will give Penn State fits. And Ohio State, especially playing at home in the Horseshoe, adds some offense to the picture. Any way I look at it, Penn State will emerge from October with some black-and-blue marks on their collective ego. If they can eke out two wins, they can maintain that #3 and could cement a position in the playoffs, assuming that they could get past Wisconsin in the Big Ten Champeenship.
Our primo predictor was reader Joe, who gave us a 31-10 prognostication. Congratulations on your astute crystal ball work!
Laugher of the Week
Finally, a seven-overtime game? Yeah, we had one, as Western Michigan outlasted Buffalo 71-68 in a slugfest, tying the record for overtimes, and setting a new record for total points at 139.
I’ll be back sometime within the next two weeks with an overview and prediction for the big Michigan game.
I think the O Line has improved. They have gone from movable traffic cones to immovable traffic cones. At least the defenders have to run around them this year versus through and around them in the past. With 8 men lined up in the box the line backers are able to shoot the gaps so McSorley has to get his throws out a little quicker. With no push from the offensive line – that slow read and react play just isn’t going to work if the defenders are standing next to McSorley and Barkley when he hands off the ball (or doesn’t).
The Nittany Turkey says
Thus far they’ve been good enough to handle the competition. Whether they’ve improved enough to handle a Michigan defense that allows only 213 yards per game is a major question. After watching last night’s festivities, those semi-static traffic cones now not only have to worry about Michigan and Ohio State, but also Moo U., who are second in the Big Ten in total defense. Between Michigan and Michigan State, we’ll be looking at the two of the three best defenses in the conference. The O-Line must further improve.
What’s interesting to me is that there should have been at least another 17 + pts on the board, so my final score prediction should have been waaaaay off.
-Barkley drops a catchable (a least for the prevailing Heisman Trophy leader) ball in the end zone (+6, asuming we make the XP so +7)
-Punt return for TD called back for a dopey penalty (again +6 => +7)
-“Ol’ reliable” (at least in 2016) Tyler Davis missed a 31 yard FG (+3)
-First Qtr, we get to I believe the KittyKats 39-yard line, and the coaching brain trust decides to attempt a 4th-and-8 conversion. McSorley scrambles but thanks to horrific blocking gains just one yard. Long FG attempt maybe gets 3 but who knows with “Ol’ reliable 2016”.
As the Reverend Turkey has been preaching, they can’t leave 17+ points on the field during the rest of the season’s games, if they want any hope of playing at Lucas Oil Stadium at the end of the regular season.
Oh and I’ve thought it over and have begun referring to our OL as the shopping carts rather than the traffic cones-easy to push around, don’t always go where you want them to go and occasionally bump in to something with little or no consequence whether they try to or not. Hopefully the brain trust can work some magic during the bye week. Seems to me there was an improvement of sorts in the line play after the bye week last year, and even a small amount could go a long way.
The Nittany Turkey says
The Shopping Carts. I love it! (I always get the one with the crooked wheel with chewing gum on it).
Yeah, they left a bunch of points on the field. Can’t be making those kinds of errors going forward. Not that anyone needs to hear it from me, but my subsequent mid-term assessment article rubs that in yet again. It gets tougher from here on.
I’m hoping for some coaching magic in the O-line and FG areas. I don’t see how PSU has any hope of playing in Indianapolis if both are not drastically improved. Aside from Rutgers, we won’t be looking at multi-touchdown spreads for the remainder, and field goals will be crucial.