#12 Nittany Lions Host Maryland Terps
How the hell did the Playoff Committee ever decide to make them #12 after watching that crappy Rutgers game? The only answer to that question is they didn’t watch the Rutgers game. I think they’re giving way too much credit to Big Ten strength of schedule.
Anyhow, Maryland is playing for bowl eligibility, while Penn State is playing for the makers of Red Bull — bull eligibility (and you can take that any way you want).
Recapping the Penn State Season
The last game of a season that came in like a Lion and appears to be going out like a pussy is upon us — “Mercifully!” some of us might say. Alas, it has been a year of changing fortunes and hefty mood swings. Before the Appalachian State game, some of us thought this team could run the table. Based on what? Just homey-ass spirit, it seems. The team had lost its best players on offense to the NFL and graduated its best defenders. The homeys (aka The Sanguinarians) just thought those gaps would be filled automagically, in what was characterized as either a “rebuilding” or “reloading” year — and I declared bullshit.
But it was not to be. We got our first slap of reality in the App State game, the boys barely winning against an inferior opponent that PSU homeys rationalized was actually really, really good. (Later, we learned that they sucked all along — just a Sunbelt Conference pretender). Then the Nittany Lions rapidly erased any doubt in the Sanguinarians’ minds when we whipped Pitt, Kent, and Illinois in consecutive weeks. We were once again invincible.
After a 4-0 Start, the Damn Dam Broke
After a bye week, a half-assed tOSU team came to St. Joe Memorial Stadium where our lads gave them a good run for their money but ultimately lost. Close, but no cigar. Subsequently, their confidence having been shaken, the team played like crap, although James Franklin tried to pump them up by famously stating they were, “a great team beaten by an elite team.” We’ve since found out that neither are the Nittany Lions great, nor are the Buckeyes elite. Talk among yourselves. Discuss.
After hitting the low point of the season in the Big House where they lost to Michigan 42-7, the Lions went on to beat hapless, crappy Wisconsin, momentarily charging up the Sanguinarians, albeit with a pretty anemic offensive performance. We Beat Wisconsin. Yay! Carrying that false sense of promise into the Rutgers game, we then saw a consummate yawner for the ages — those of us who were capable of remaining awake for the entire game did, anyway, and I bet there weren’t many. Hand me a Red Bull, please.
All that early season optimism has now yielded to the reality of mediocrity with no relief in sight. The Sanguinarians are not so sanguine. Well, mitigation is afoot. This season will mercifully end sometime soon. It will go out like a pussy(cat) and PSU will be rewarded for its trouble with too good a bowl game — if they can beat Maryland. Until last week, most of us fans and all the Sanguinarians thought that would be a slam-dunk.
Bring on Maryland
Taking stock now, we’re looking at a very inconsistent Maryland team that has just come off their best offensive performance of the year, losing a high-scoring fiasco to tOSU by a single point in OT. We don’t know which version of Maryland we’ll see — Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde, the Maryland that lost 52-51 to tOSU, or the Maryland that got shut out at Iowa. No one knows! Not even Bo.
Their inconsistent performance defies conventional comparisons. Stats will never tell the tale of these Maryland Terrapins.
Here’s a point of comparison for you, if I may. Michigan scored 42 points against both PSU and Maryland in the Big House. However, Maryland scored 21 on Michigan, while Penn State scored only 7. It could be argued that Maryland scored 14 of its points in the fourth quarter, perhaps in so-called garbage time, but then I would have to argue in return that Penn State’s 7 was also on the final quarter. If it weren’t for the Terps’ 12 penalties for 107 yards, they would have done even better. PSU barely put up a fight against UM.
They’re Our Peers!
What I seem to be trying to establish here, albeit unwittingly, is that Maryland, like it or not, is Penn State’s peer in spite of the disparity in their won/lost records. Don’t want to admit it? Clearly, you’re a Sanguinarian, aren’t you?
One would hope Senior Day would charge up the Lions, because the Terps are seeking bowl eligibility and some redemption for an ugly, ugly season off the field and being beaten up on the field. They seem to be peaking, but it’s hard to keep track of their emotional and physical barometer. Same with Penn State.
Did you see that half-assed effort against Rutgers last week? No, of course you didn’t. You were either raking leaves or snoring on the sofa after the game put you to sleep. Do we really know what to expect from either team here?
The predictions I have seen are understandably all over the map. So, here are some bullet points to consider:
- The weather is going to SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!
- Stands will be relatively empty due to bad weather and student population gone.
- Maryland wants bowl eligibility.
- Penn State’s seniors want a win going out.
- Penn State hasn’t seemed to have its heart in it since the tOSU loss.
- Aside from its heart, the PSU offensive brain trust has reeled in the offense.
- Trace McSorley is not playing as well as he had been up to the tOSU loss.
- To further complicate the PSU mindset, there are the Franklin/USC rumors.
I still can’t get into the mind of this team enough to assess its chances in this rivalry Super Bowl against rival peer Maryland. However, I do think the Terps will come to play football.
I mentioned how crappy the weather will be on Saturday. Aside from the fact that Penn State has been closing parking lots all season due to crappy rainy/snowy weather, Saturday will bring more of the same. AccuWeather is looking for a high of 40, but with about a half-inch of rain and ice in the morning. The overnight low will have been 25, so there should be a nice coating of ice on everything. Boy, am I glad I live in Florida!
(By the way, AccuWeather has discontinued its free weather widget, which I had used on the main page of the blog to display the week’s game weather conditions. They say they’ll be replacing it with a new product, which I can only assume will mean that they’ll want to charge for it. If you like the weather link on my main page, please write your congressman).
Da Bottom Line
This is where I give the weekly Official Turkey Poop Prediction, which is as offal as it sounds. I’m not going to make the mistake of putting enough faith in this Penn State team to call for a shut-out, as I did last week. Quite the contrary.
Let’s talk turkey here. Bookies have established Penn State as a 13½ point favorite with an over/under of 53½, which after applying some simple math yields the mathemalogically generated outcome of a 34-20 win for the Nittany Lions. I’m saying as crappy as they’ve been playing, they ain’t gonna cover that 13½. And I’m thinking because of the weather it will be a low scoring, crappy game. So, let’s make it #12 Penn State 27 (four touchdowns with one missed extra point), Maryland 24. Take the under.
So, the way things look, if the prediction goes my way and with all other things being equal and rivalry weekend not yielding any major surprises, and bla bla bla, PSU might — I say might — be headed to the Peach Bowl to play the Gators. That might be the best attainable, although it ain’t on New Year’s Day. Still could wind up with monkey wrenches, such as Northwestern upsetting the winner of Michigan-tOSU or some such. At this point I’d split my potential bowl destinations between Atlanta, Orlando and Tampa. Just sayin’. (Whatever the hell that means).
I’ll be back next week with the final regular season game wrap-up. Happy Thanksgiving to all!