Moo U. 27, Penn State 24
On a rainy day in East Lansing, the #19 Moo U. Spartans (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten) recaptured the abominable Land Grant Trophy from the #7 Penn State Nittany Lions (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten), 27-24.
Big Al’s Dream and Karma
While it didn’t play out exactly the way Big Al’s dream portrayed it and the numbers were ever so slightly different, the net result was nightmarish. Karma reared her ugly head and wreaked her vengeance on the Nittany Lions, dashing their hopes for a playoff appearance. Meanwhile, karma was exacting her revenge upon tOSU, who were clobbered by the Hawkeyes, 55-24. Expect a significant shake-up in the CFP rankings, and unless Wisconsin wins out in a seriously impressive manner given their weak schedule, expect the Big Ten to be shut out of the CFP playoff picture completely.
As if a three-hour rain delay wasn’t enough to jinx the Lions — hey, wait! I’m sitting here making excuses for them. The weather was bad, yes. However they just plain suuuuuuuuuuucked. The running game was virtually nonexistent. In the aerial game, the ball was heavy and wet, so passes went awry. At one point, Trace McSorley and his receivers conspired to produce nine non-completions in a row and to add insult to injury, McSorley suffered three interceptions for the day.
Can’t Pass, Can’t Run… Goodbye Playoffs!
So, if you can’t pass, you could run, at least, right? Wrong. Not with this offensive line! In the first half, Saquon Barkley had a total of zero yards rushing on six carries. He wound up with 14 carries for 63 yards and McSorley could add only two yards on seven carries. Moo U. was stacking the box with the clear plan to stop all aspects of the running game. There was no reason to believe that they wouldn’t be effective, since their defense had shut down the run all year, averaging fewer than 90 yards allowed per game.
Barkley had some success in the second half, but when push came to shove in the final quarter, the offensive coaching brain trust decided to abort the rushing attack in desperation.
If you can’t run and you can’t pass…
Meanwhile we had to change the clocks last night, which always screws me up. I’ll take this opportunity to direct you to my March, 2007 post on the subject of Daylight Savings Time for some tragicomic relief. But I digress.
Back to the game, McSorley’s passing line doesn’t look half bad except for the interceptions, but looks are deceiving. He finished 26-47 for 381 yards, three TDs, and three INTs. But turnovers’ll killya. Penn State, who had been leading the conference in turnover margin, were -2 for the day. Third down conversions were a miserable 4-12, while the Spartans were 10-18.
Moo U. Had Passing Success
Sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke torched the PSU defense. He was 33-56 for 400 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. Moo U’s receivers sure as hell seemed to be more sure-handed than Penn State’s in the foul weather. Lewerke will be a formidable presence in the Big Ten for the next couple of years.
It seems clear that PSU linebackers cannot cover receivers. Lewerke was able to complete many passes into the seam. The secondary, however, was also complicit in the passing maelstrom engineered by Lewerke. He was averaging 225 yards per game, but on a sloppy day, he produced 400. The vaunted, experienced secondary looked neither vaunted nor experienced. Talk amongst yourselves. Discuss.
Handing Sparty the Win
Penn State had the opportunity to at least stop Moo U’s winning drive, but hope of that were dashed with a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty on Marcus Allen that made the winning field goal practically a gimme. Penalties’ll killya.
The game was played even until the final, winning field goal by MSU. Both teams took to the air for most of the yards gained, Penn State with 401 and Moo U. with 400 passing yards. Total yards were 466 and 474, respectively. Moo U. edged out PSU in first downs, 25-22.
Polls and Stuff
As I write this, the Coaches Poll is out. Ohio State is #11, Penn State is lucky #13, Moo U. is #16 and Michigan is #22. Wisconsin is #3 in both, but that won’t last, and the CFP won’t see it that way. OOPS, this just in: AP Poll has Wisconsin #6, tOSU #11, Moo U. #13, PSU #16, and Michigan #21. Of course, the Irish-friendly sports writers have put Notre Dame at #3, whereas the coaches have the Irish at #5.
What was James Franklin doing angrily chasing after Koa Farmer after the game for all the cameras to see?
I’ll be back during the week with a preview and prediction for the next nooner, the exciting Homecoming Weekend clash vs. Rutgers.