The Cats Are A-Comin’
The Nittany Lions got a New Year’s Day bowl, but they’re gazing at the “six” of the New Year’s Six. Not that they deserved the honor or anything, but I’ll have you know that the Gators, who were beaten by — guess who? Kentucky — got the Peach Bowl vs Michigan, who walloped Penn State, and you get it — I’m rambling.
I suppose the intro paragraph above gives you a sense of my level of interest in the forthcoming VRBO Citrus Bowl (I think that’s what it’s called this year) at Camping World Stadium (formerly the Citrus Bowl) here in Orlando on Tuesday, New Year’s Day. None of the locals here care, because their homey heroes, the UCF Knights, are playing in — guess what? a New Year’s Six Bowl — in the same time slot. We’ll solve that problem — and avoid traffic and parking issues — by watching both games on the dual 65″ screens at Mike’s Garage, while leisurely dining on an InstantPot® version of the traditional New Year’s spare ribs & sauerkraut, courtesy of Artificially Sweetened and this Turkey.
Are We Talking about a Football Game, or What?
Hard to say. Motivating my old Turkey ass is a difficult proposition this morning, I guess. I just finalized my nine-month roofing job yesterday, after some constructive negotiation resulted in reducing my final hold-back payment to ten grand. Got my lien release and got a beautiful and functional new roof with a warranty that will outlast me — that’s all I know. Moreover, I got a thank-you and contrite apology call from the salesman/estimator, who had gone incommunicado immediately after I signed on the dotted line.
Fortunately, that salesman’s pointed absence and string of behind-the-scenes screw-ups was offset by an excellent, customer oriented administrator, who I’ll call Trissa, because that’s her name. Without her timely communication and ultimately, her suggestion of involving the company president, I would have been even more insane than I already am. But I digress.
Football game. Focus. Turkey, sit! Type football shit! Nobody gives a shit about your damn roof! (Come to think of it, nobody gives a shit about your football shit, but you digress). Next thing you know, you’ll be writing about drywall repairs, which will be the last vestige of Hurricane Irma damage. You see, I had to wait for the roof’s completion before starting on the drywall, lest I have to fix the drywall twice. NOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo! Focus!
Penn State vs. Kentucky
Are we here yet? OK.
Call this the Juwan Johnson coming out party, if you’re listening to James Franklin. How many will JJ drop? OK, OK… focus! The Penn State Nittany Lions (9-3, 6-3 Big Ten) meet the Kentucky Wildcats (9-3, 5-3 SEC) in the VRBO Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida on New Year’s but you knew that. Both combatants had high hopes for a New Year’s Six Bowl. Neither got one.
Their seasons progressed similarly, with anticipation of greatness coming to a crashing halt at the behest of the Aggies for Kentucky, and the Schmuckeyes for Penn State. The final wrecking ball was applied to Kentucky by Georgia and Tennessee, and to Penn State by Michigan and Moo U. Kentucky finished second in the SEC East behind Georgia, while the Nittany Lions wound up third in the Big Ten East behind the Schmuckeyes and Michigan.
Claims to Fame, But Briefly
The Wildcats rank #8 in the country in scoring defense, having allowed an average of 16.3 points per game. (Fortunately, they didn’t have to play Alabama this year). Their defense’s cornerstone, All-Everything (cliche alert) Josh Allen, was a big question mark for this game until mid-December, when he revealed that he will play. He’ll be a high first-round pick in the NFL Draft, so why risk injury in a meaningless game? Wildcat pride, man!
Benny Snell, Jr. is the guy Penn State will have to stop. He’s run for 1305 yards so far this year in an offense that is geared toward the ground game. Meanwhile, Penn State ranks 70th in rushing defense. If they can hold Snell to under 100 yards, the Nittany Lions can win this thing.
I could say a lot more about this game but you can read that kind of meaningless drivel elsewhere. You come here for my sparkling prose and lame witticisms, not to mention roofing updates. Talk among yourselves. Discuss.
All I know is the roof job is done and I’m going to enjoy watching two games at one pm on Tuesday.
You couldn’t ask for better weather than we provide here in Orlando. Tony Mainolfi, WESH-2 TV Chief Meteorologist tells us to expect a high of 82 degrees on a partly sunny day. We’ll hold him to that.
Da Bottom Line?
How did we get here without having said anything? I don’t know, but something doesn’t feel right about this game. Seems like Kentucky has the emotional edge, with Josh Allen revving up the engines while James Franklin talks about Disney World and what a great day Juwan Johnson will have while disclosing that Tommy Stevens will sit out the game with surgery for an undisclosed condition. Sean Clifford will be Trace McSorely’s backup for Trace’s final game.
Oh, sure, we have Trace McSorely’s swan song to consider. He’ll want to go out with a New Year’s BANG, but he doesn’t have the receivers or the offensive line this year to make him shine and he’ll be staring down the nostrils of a monster pass rusher. Since Penn State leads the NCAA in sacks, both quarterbacks will have feelthy dirty jerseys before the game is over. I think McSorely will connect with K.J. Hamler a couple of times for flashy gains, but will rely on Pat Freiermuth for most of the close-in work. I also think there will be some heartbreaking dropped passes.
The PSU offensive line, which as the season progressed was up and down, better be up to snuff. Josh Allen gonna be a handful for them That guy has been compared to Jadeveon Clowney, or however the hell his name is spelled. (I’m too lazy to look it up).
The River Goes On and On…
We have all the necessary conditions for a low-scoring game, so that means it probably will wind up 48-47 or some such thing. The kicking game will come into play one way or the other. Now that Jake Pinegar has settled down a bit, that might even portend well for the Lions. I think if they can play like they did against beleaguered Maryland, they can win this thing.
The gambling line has steady-stated at PSU – 6½, with an over/under of 47¾. (Just wanted to see if ya wuz payin’ attention). That works out to a break-even outcome of 27-21 in favor of the Nittany Lions. Most of the predictions I’ve seen fall right into that general range — except Phil Grosz’s, who thinks PSU’s defense is capable of shutting down what he describes as Kentucky’s monodimensional offense.
The Really Fuzzy Final Bottom Line, Maybe
This Turkey thinks it comes down to team emotion. Who wants this game more? Will it be yet another mundane Super Bowl for the Nittany Lions or a fitting send-off for Trace McSorley? Will Josh Allen get the other cats worked up to reward one of the best Kentucky teams ever with a VRBO Citrus Bowl trophy? Damned if I can get a read on it, so I’m rambling again. I guess I’ll just pull one out of my ass.
Penn State 31, Kentucky 17. Take the over, but barely.
All I Know Is One Thing…
Trace McSorley will be Lion-ized in the pantheon of great Penn State quarterbacks while his predecessor, Christian Hackenberg joins the Alliance of American Football, a new pro league that will crank up shortly following the real Super Bowl. Orlando will have a team — the Orlando Apollos (oy vey) — to compete with such gems as the Arizona Hotshots and the Memphis Express (think FedEx), by whom Hack was drafted as the seventh pick in Round 2. Interestingly, it appears that he’ll be a backup for Troy Cook at QB for the Express. But I digress.
McSorley will be remembered as a winner, a worthy companion of the likes of John Hufnagel, Chuck Fusina, Todd Blackledge, and Kerry Collins in the aforementioned PSU QB Pantheon, as it were. He’s broken most of their records. We’ve had so many good ones…
I’ll be back after the game to give you some ex post facto bullshit and roofing info. Here’s hoping you all had a very Merry Christmas, and may you all have a very healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!