#12 Penn State 38, Maryland 3
As predicted, it was a crappy day at half-full St. Joe Memorial Stadium at Beaver Alley, but the Nittany Lions exceeded most predictions in scoring and defending, putting an appropriate period at the end of their 2018 campaign. Now, they lurk in the shadows while watching Top Ten teams do their best to eliminate each other from CFP contention so PSU can back into a better bowl than the season’s performance deserves. More on some of those epic quasi-elimination games and more bowl speculation later.
The #12 Penn State Nittany Lions (9-3, 6-3) defeated the Maryland Terrapins (5-7, 3-6) by the lopsided score of 38-3 to close the 2018 regular season. It wasn’t as close as the score would indicate. The Penn State defense has improved measurably, and the offense made a decent showing against a shaky Terp defense.
I think Maryland must have left it all on the field in last week’s overtime thriller in which they lost to tOSU 52-51. No evidence of that type of offense appeared on the field today. This was more like the version of Maryland that was shut out by Iowa back on Week 9.
The PSU Defense Showed Up!
The mighty Penn State defense registered 15 TFLs and five sacks. Holding the visitors to 259 yards was one thing, but shutting down a rushing game that had torched Ohio State was even better. Maryland wound up with 74 yards rushing on 36 attempts. Super freshman Anthony McFarland, who had burned tOSU for 298 yards, managed only 12 against the staunch PSU D. Shout-out to Yetur Gross-Matos, who played most of the day in Maryland’s backfield. What a way to end the season for them and to give us some hope for next year!
The Offense Was There, Too!
Thing of it is is that it was Senior Day and Trace McSorley went out with a flourish, completing 12 of 22 for 230 yards and a touchdown aerially, while running 11 times for 64 yards and two touchdowns. The rest of the offense joined the party, as Miles Sanders ran for 128 yards, and long-lost true freshman Ricky Slade ran for 64 yards and two touchdowns. KJ Hamler led all receivers in yards (90) and drops (2). Juwan Johnson made a surprise appearance and actually caught a couple. Freshman TE Pat Freiermuth added a TD.
I tell ya, boys, it was like we were back there at the beginning of the season playing Pitt or Kent — a thoroughly dominating performance. PSU more than doubled Maryland’s first down output 28-13, and racked up 565 yards to Maryland’s 259.
In other action, Ohio State clobbered the Michigganers, 62-39, proving that the Harbonians are the pretenders that they are, and effectically knocking them out of the CFP picture. Meanwhile, Alabama, Clemson, and Notre Dame solidified their positions in the playoff hunt. The #4 slot vacated by the maize and blue will be hotly contested and highly controversial.
Assuming tOSU, Oklahoma, and Alabama win out, the CFP will be on the horns of a dilemma. Should tOSU or Oklahoma go to the playoffs? The focus will be on defense and strength of schedule. While the Sooners and tOSU both have crappy defenses, Oklahoma’s is far crappier, having given up over 40 points five times during this past season. Oklahoma could also lose to a resurging Texas. But you know if Ohio State gets the nod, lots of Oklahoma, Georgia, and UCF fans are going to be blowing smoke about how they wuz robbed. (Sorry, UCF, great record and all, but you ain’t got a chance).
Of course we all know that if Urbz’ boys get in there, they’re going to draw the Crimson Tide in the first round. They’ll provide a tune-up opponent to get Alabama ready for Clemson.
PSU Bowl Bull — Pure Speculation or Pure BS?
What do you think about the bowl game for Penn State? The speculation period will be only a week, so you can just wait and avoid the arguments. Regardless, looking at the Big Ten situation and assuming tOSU beats Northwestern next weekend, we do have a surfeit of highly ranked bowl-bound Big Ten programs. To which bowls will they go?
We’ll soon know how the AP ranks them, but the CFP might have a different take. No doubt Georgia will move up to #4, but that’s temporary because they have to play Alabama in the SEC championship game. LSU will drop in the rankings, having lost to Texas A&M 74-72 in seven overtimes (yeah, I watched it — I missed Woodstock, so I had see one defining millennial event, after all). Washington State should fall out of the top ten, too, losing the Apple thingie to their cross-state rival.
I’m thinking we will have something like this:
- Notre Dame
- Ohio State
- Penn State
After Georgia gets its comeuppance at the behest of the Tide, you’ll have three Big Ten teams tOSU (12-1), Michigan (10-2), and Poon State (9-3) all in the top ten looking for a New Year’s Day bowl. Then, if tOSU happens to get lucky, winding up in the playoffs, it leaves just Michigan and PSU in the hunt for a New Year’s Six bowl.
As I mentioned above, I think tOSU has a realistic chance of being in the CFP. That would put the Wolverines in the Rose Bowl. Georgia and Oklahoma would get the Sugar Bowl due to tie-ins, and the Fiesta and Peach would be up for grabs. UCF then has to enter the mix, and since they were in the Peach Bowl last year, let’s send them to the Fiesta Bowl. Could PSU and the Gators get the Peach? If not the Peach Bowl for PSU, then the Capital One in Orlando is pretty much assured. Whattya think?
I’ll be back after we find out. Let the speculation abound (for a week)!