Washington Huskies Take on PSU in Fiesta Bowl
On December 30, which means it ain’t quite a New Year’s Bowl, the Playstation Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona will feature two 10-2 teams. Representing the Big Ten Conference (which now includes fourteen teams) are the mighty Penn State Nittany Lions; representing the Pacific Twelve Conference (which, remarkably, still has twelve teams). This is Washington’s first visit to the Fiesta Bowl, while Penn State last played there in 1997.
A Word or Twelve about Sled Dog Commands
You have to know this to understand the Huskies. “Mush!” is rarely used anymore, but whence cometh “mush!”? No, it didn’t emerge from the crappy corn meal dish or the even crappier Appalachian liver dish that incorporate that word in their title. It actually comes from the French “marche!”, meaning get your asses in gear! However, “mush!” appears to be losing favor among the mushers. More common these days is “Hike!” or even “All RIGHT!”.
With Joe Moorhead firmly ensconced in Starkville, his replacement, newly appointed Offensive Coordinator Ricky Rahne, will have his first opportunity to show us his stuff. Whattya got, Ricky?
Rahne has been with PSU Head Coach James Franklin since about 2006, and is highly respected by the head guy. Formerly the assistant responsible for wide receivers and quarterbacks, he is personally responsible for having recruited all the quarterbacks on the team at the moment.
Don’t expect a whole lot of differences between Rahne’s offense and that of his predecessor. Rahne has famously stated, “I think we’ve established an identity and there’s no need to fix what isn’t broke…” So, we’ll see.
So, you can catch a glimpse of what is in store for the 2018 Penn State offense in what will be an interesting game against Washington’s staunch defense.
How Staunch a Defense, Already, You Ask?
Well, I’ll tellya. Washington ranks fifth overall in total defense, allowing 4.18 yards per play. They rank tops in rushing defense (sorry, Saquon). However, they are down at #21 in passing yards allowed, which is why I expect to see lots of passing in this game. And if that passing game manages to get Penn State into the Washington red zone, I am pleased to inform you that the Huskies rank #105 in red zone defense.
The matchup that will be interesting is PSU’s excuse for an offensive line against All-Everything defensive lineman Vita Vea, a 6-5, 340 lb junior defensive tackle who looks like an enlarged version of Troy Polamalu. Regarded as a first-round NFL Draft pick in 2018, Vea is an amazing run-stopper and is also a strong inside pass rusher. Some are saying that the feature of this game will be Saquon Barkley vs. Vea, but with that poor excuse for an offensive line in front of Barkley and Vea plugging the middle, I don’t see big rushing numbers for Saquon. He’ll need to get outside, which will be difficult given the quick defense, so he’ll be catching a lot of passes out of the backfield, and the real matchup to watch will be the PSU O-line against Vea, whose presence demands double teams.
More interesting will be the Trace McSorley passing game, where Penn State will do most of the damage.
Who WON’T Be There
Aside from Joe Moorhead, Irv Charles and Manny Bowen are playing Left Out.
Junior outside linebacker Manny Bowen and sophomore wide receiver Irv Charles have been kicked off the team for unspecified violations of team rules. Sayonara, Irv and Manny! We barely knew ye.
Hail to the “Lion”
Tommy Stevens is listed in a new position on the depth chart for the Fiesta Bowl. The new position is called “Lion” and Stevens is the only player in the category.
OK, so what the hell is a “Lion”? I guess we’ll have to wait to see what Rahne has in store for us with Mr. Stevens.
About Stevens, James Franklin said, “When I say offense, defense and special teams, I’m serious about that. There’s really nothing off the table in terms of his opportunity to have a bigger role on our team.”
Distinguished Alumnus of the Week
Having graduated as a Washington Husky in 1972, our Distinguished Alumnus of the Week is none other than serial killer Ted Bundy. Bundy was born in Burlington, Vermont four days after this Turkey was hatched in Altoona, PA. Fortunately, our lives took different paths. Bundy became a serial killer, while the Turkey became a famous sports writer. (Yeah, yeah…)
Bundy’s crimes against over thirty victims are too gruesome to mention here, but suffice to say that Bundy will never ply his nefarious wares again. If ever there was a case supporting capital punishment, Bundy personified it. In fact, he received three death sentences in two separate trials for his horrible murders in Florida. He was executed in the famous electric chair known as “Old Sparky” in 1989 at the Florida State Prison in Bradford County, Florida, at the age of 42.
No factor, other than to delight fans in attendance! Sunny and pleasant with a high of 74° — NOT … TOO … SHABBAY!
At the End of the Day…
The bottom line, the net-net, the true juice is forthcoming for the last time in 2017. Yes, it’s that time again, time for the Official Turkey Poop Flawless Prognostication.
This is a pretty meaningless bowl game, but some players would like to flaunt their individual specialties for the benefit of the hungry NFL audience, namely Barkley and Vea. Oh, yeah, there are others, but none expected to be so highly placed in the NFL Draft.
I think we’ll see lots of scoring. Penn State will lean more toward the pass, while Washington will be more balanced. Very difficult to predict a game like this, so I’ll leave the bullshit at time served.
The current spread favors PSU by two slim points and the over/under is 55. This suggests that the gambling public is betting on a break-even of around 28-27 in favor of Penn State. But I think that the great weather and the desire to show off will lead to a higher point total. Penn State has averaged 41.6 points per game this year, and against a tough schedule, Washington has averaged 36.9. So let’s have some fun — make it Penn State 42, Washington 39, on a redeeming, last second field goal by Tyler Davis. Take the over.
That does it for this season. Although we had our share of disappointment, you have to say that a 10-2 record ain’t a bad way to ring in a new year with new possibilities. The Nittany Turkey hopes you all had a very Merry Christmas and wishes you all a healthy, happy, prosperous New Year!