#11 Penn State (2-0) 51, Lowly Pitt (1-1) 6
We didn’t know what to expect (other than rain), but these Nittany Lions appear to be mudders, beating the Pitt muthas 51-6 in a steady downpour Saturday night at Heinz Field. They outslopped the sloppy and disjointed Pitt Panzers — yawohl!
At halftime, PSU Head Coach James Franklin must have said, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, boys! They want to give it to you, so GO TAKE IT!” When all was said and done, the mighty Lions crossed the wire in a walkover with the lesser cats trailing by 45 lengths.
Our winning commentator this week is PSUDROZZ, who predicted a 42-21 rout. He gave Pitt too much credit, but he was the only one of you who didn’t expect a fairly close game and who invoked Pitt Hate Week, besides. Honorable Mention to Big Al, who asserted that PSU typically does well the next game or two after a closely contested win.
Let’s Rub it In, Shall We?
Eight inches of rain and fourteen Pitt penalties later, the capstone was laid by Franklin. With a seven-touchdown lead, a minute left in the game, and thirteen die-hard Penn State fans all that were left in the sodden, Steelers-yellow seats of Heinz Field, our always competitive (and sometimes crazy) head coach rubbed it in by challenging a meaningless call on the field. Ricky Slade had coughed up the ball for the second time in the game, but Franklin wanted the call overturned. For what?
Even ABC/ESPN announcer Todd Blackledge was annoyed — pissed off, actually — and he quarterbacked the Penn State team during the strongest days of the Pitt rivalry. St. Joe must have been throwing a major tantrum in the Kingdom of Heaven. I was sitting here incredulously bemused, exclaiming OMG WTF OMG WTF!
The only semi-plausible explanation I can dredge up is that Franklin wanted Ricky Slade, who sat out most of the game after fumbling the ball away in the second quarter, to learn a lesson about ball handling — but didn’t want him to go away from the game feeling like a complete failure. Or something.
(I’m too lazy to look at Franklin’s post-game press conference where some media dick undoubtedly asked the burning question, “Why????” But I like to write this before reading what others have to say, so you get the pristine wisdom and unfettered personally opinionated opinions of the Supreme Turkey.)
The announcers were intent on predicting some animus at the traditional post-game handshake between Franklin and Pitt Head Coach Pat Narduzzi. (Flashback to the famous Joe Paterno/Doug Graber post-game scene after the Mike McQueary bomb). Alas, they disappointed with a sterile hug.
But I Digress – What Is My Take on the Rest of the Game
Let me start out with PITT SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKS!!!
For those of you who wanted a rout, you got one. Seems like that’s what Pitt secretly wanted, too.
Looking at the stats, one has to wonder why ze Panzers didn’t make a better showing of it. They managed 245 rushing yards on 52 attempts against a suspect Penn State defense. Narduzzi kept his boys grounded for the most part, throwing the ball only 18 times, and completing half of those for only 55 yards.
Increasingly meaningless (remember last season’s rants) time of possession was decidedly in Pitt’s favor, 34:22 to 25:38. (Penn State quick-strike offense — yeah!) More meaningful is third down conversions, where PSU (4-12) sucked, but Pitt (4-15) sucked worse.
Trace McSorley (14-30, 179, 2 TD), had a pretty decent day considering the monsoon. Miles Sanders had a career day, ending with 118 yards on 16 carries. He’s a mudder, too. On the receiving end, the heavy, rain-soaked ball got spread around to nine receivers, including a touchdown toss to freshman Mac Hippenhammer. Finally, Freshman QB Sean Clifford got into the act with a fourth quarter TD pass to Brandon Polk to add a meaningless score. (Tommy Stevens is still lame).
Penn State won the turnover pseudo-battle 2-3. You would expect that kind of sloppiness in the rain, but both those turnovers were attributable to young Ricky Slade.
Commence Self-Destruct Sequence
Good morning, Mr. Phelps…
So, what the hell? It wasn’t all that lopsided — EXCEPT — Pitt had 14 penalties for 116 yards. Talk about handing the Nittany Lions a gold-level gift certificate! How could they NOT win!
Even Narduzzi got into the penalty act while heatedly charging the ref after a holding call in the end zone that resulted in a safety. I was hoping he would get a second unsportsmanlike conduct so we could watch him storm off the field. It was that kind of game for Pitt. A complete denouement.
“I’ve never seen so many penalties in one game,” Narduzzi said. “It starts with my 15 yarder. But 14 penalties — embarrassing. There were some good calls, too. I’m not saying the officiating was bad. We just had some stuff that just snowballed on us. It starts with me.”
For icing on the cake, the Australian-Greek (or is it Greek-Australian?) punter, Kirk Christodoulou, could neither hold nor punt. The missed extra point and a missed field goal were both attributable to Kirk, as was Penn State’s second touchdown, a consequence of Christodoulou muffing a snap on a punting down. Another gift certificate. Talk amongst yourselves. Discuss!
Said Pat Narduzzi, “Ultimately, everything lays right on my chest. I’ll take it all. We obviously didn’t have them ready to go in any capacity: offensively, defensively, or special teams.”
Yeah, so what was ready to go? Hell, even the cheerleaders were wet, and not in a good way.
Absolutely a gold-level gift certificate, of which Franklin and the boys took full advantage. It was clear that Pitt was a defeated team early in the second half, and they played like it for the rest of the game.
What’s Your Take?
Mine is still up in the air. As I noted, the Panthers were not game opponents. (Pretty gamy, though). I give the Nittany Lions lots of credit for maintaining their interest until the final gun.
Let’s get serious. Routs are fun, and you can get drunk without having to worry about what shape you’re in to coach the final seconds from your favorite Barcalounger. However, what did this game teach us?
We didn’t know that Pitt sucked so badly before the game, although a couple of you astute readers opined that App State was a far better team. I agree with you. So, now that we know Pitt completely sucks, what do we know?
Again, I didn’t read Franklin’s post-game comments, but I can imagine him saying we have a solid running game in view of Miles Sanders’ 118-yard day. I can further imagine him saying we still have work to do, which we do.
On defense I’m still seeing missed tackles and questionable ability to deal with the run. Pitt didn’t throw much and they apparently conceded the second half, so I can’t make a semi-intelligent assessment there. On the plus side, the D recorded four sacks and 10 TFLs, all by the front seven, which is quite encouraging.
I’m happy with the win, but still up in the air about this team. Do they have what it takes to make a decent showing in the Big Ten? I don’t think beating a Pitt team that beat itself gives us a clue. However, the wisdom of my audience far exceeds mine, so please give me your take-aways! I’m counting on you to show me the light!
As Miles Sanders said after the game, we got the “W”.
I’ll be back later in the week with my take on the final non-conference cupcake of the 2018 season, the Golden Flashes of Kent State. Hell, after that Steelers fiasco in Cleveland, I’m in the mood for another RUTS rout.