tOSU 27, PSU 26
It was déjà vu all over again Saturday night at raucous, whited-out St. Joe Memorial-Penndot Stadium at Beaver Field. Like last year, and countless times before, the #9 Nittany Lions (4-1, 1-1) squandered a second-half lead to the better coached #4 Buckeyes (5-0, 2-0), ultimately losing by a single point, 27-26.
Not an Elite Team?
What is everybody (except those still on a drunken tear on High Street) talking about this morning? Two things. James Franklin asserting in his post-game media statement that Penn State is not an elite team, because it couldn’t beat an elite team is one thing, and the other thing is that Franklin and staff helped ensure that outcome by making the crappiest of all calls when the game was on the line.
Elite Teams Do Not Flinch
There were other questionable calls but none worse than the 4th & 5 call of a zone read RPO at the OSU 43 with 1:22 left in the game trailing 27-26. WTF? You all asked that question as did this turkey. I tried like hell to convince myself that Franklin is smarter than I about football (I never coached), and that he knows something I don’t. Even having let the anger/resentment/disappointment/denial and ultimate acceptance of the moment subside, I still have no fucking idea why the offensive brain trust could have called that fucking play!
Two timeouts worth of “thinking” went into the decision. The word “overthinking” comes to mind. ” Hey, the whole stadium knows we’re putting the ball in McSorley’s hands, so let’s trick their asses!” So, tOSU had been selling out stopping the run all night, succeeding in holding Miles Sanders to 43 yards on 16 carries. So, you think that’s going to change on 4th and 5, Franklin? You think they’re going to be playing the Sandusky pree-vert defense, or what? The run game was simply not working. Miles was tired. (I guess because of his fumble-itis, we saw none of Ricky Slade. WTF? Mark Allen out for the season, and no backup RB in a big game?)
The O-Line was being swarmed all night, our only hope of redemption being McSorley’s taking command of the game, establishing new highs for a Penn State quarterback. The ball should have been in his hands to sink or swim with the game on the line. GIVE THE BALL TO YOUR BEST PLAYER — which is McSorley, by far. Fuck me, that was not to be. No, instead, just give it to Sanders on a slow-developing hand-off. WTF? With five yards to go in the most critical situation with the game on the line, hand the ball to Sanders, who had been averaging fewer than THREE FUCKING YARDS per carry?
I’m getting all worked up again. I’m wondering how many URLs have been registered this morning like firejamesfranklin.com or rahnemustgo.net. Can anyone outside of Columbus shed any light on why that call was justified? Please do tell. I’m open-minded, if a bit emotional at the moment.
Good Stuff, Though
Trace McSorley’s outstandingly stand-out performance thrilled me, as did the presence of good defense for the first time this year. (The latter was somewhat daunted by the tired defense allowing an 8-play, 96 yard touchdown drive to give tOSU the lead when Blake Gillikin, who had been having an off night, had pinned the Buckeyes deep in their end of the pen). McSorley was 16-32 for 286 yards passing and ran 25 times for 175 more yards. That’s 461 total yards. Amazing, albeit against a suspect Buckeyes’ defense that had sold out against the run.
WE HAD THIS GAME IN THE BAG. Again.
I know you all mostly despise ESPN, so I embed the following. Unfortunately for those who will merely brush it off because it came from ESPN, Paul Finebaum is right. Franklin needs to state that he blew it, not throw out fine red herrings about elite programs versus good versus great programs or any other adjectives and bullshit, already. Just explain the reasoning behind the call, take responsibility and QUIT THE BULLSHIT! Poppycock! (If for some reason it doesn’t display below (like ESPN fucked up the embed code), go see it at THIS LINK).
And with that, I’ll cast off on this self-flagellation voyage on a ship of fools and wish you a nice bye week. Please give me your comments, share your frustrations, provide behavioral insights, etc., etc., etc.