#13 Penn State 45, SUNY-Buffalo 13
You’ve got to wonder about this Nittany Lions team. Resting on the laurels of an initial blowout exacted upon a FCS mid-grade opponent, they came out with what Urban Meyer used to refer to as “that dullard look” and played a shitty first half. With a 10-7 deficit fueling the locker room, they must have made some adjustments, coming back to cover the spread, which had reached 30.5 in some books.
You’ll have Sanguinarians saying “a win is a win” and suchlike. They’re the same ones who were using phrases like “offensive juggernaut” after the Idaho massacre.
Sean Clifford was 16-22 for 279 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Jahan Dotson and Pat Freiermuth lived up to their star receiver status, scoring two touchdowns each.
However, the running game was largely absent. Our leading rusher was Clifford, with 11 carries for 51 yards, followed by Journey Brown with 6 for 28. The Lions ended up with a paltry 78 net yards rushing. The Bulls pretty much loaded the box all night, and it worked. It just took the Brain Trust a little too long to figure out the need to throw the ball. Well, a LOT too long.
Friggin’ Third Down Conversions’ll Killya
Once again, this offense showed its weakness on third-down conversions, an area that has long plagued Penn State. At Tuesday’s media lovefest, James Franklin said he would be happy with at least a 38% conversion rate. His boys game him a 22% performance. The Nittany Lions now rank 128th of 130 FBS teams in that category.
Sloppy Defense’ll Killya
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our vaunted defense allowed Buffalo to sustain drives and hold the ball for over 42 minutes. They allowed 22 first downs to the surprisingly game opponents, who bested Penn State in total yards 429 to 357.
However, they did manage to force two turnovers and score one touchdown.
I suppose the geniuses at AP and Coaches polls looked at the final score, but little else, when they ranked Penn State #13 and #11, respectively.
Rankings notwithstanding, w
Big Al says
I wasn’t as freaked out by the 1st half performance as many of the Sanguinarians were. Buffalo’s OL is better than half of the teams on our schedule and their yards per carry wasn’t all that impressive. The real surprise was that the Bulls had a decent quarterback and two good receivers. Leipold was obviously sandbagging against Robert Morris by making it appear that they couldn’t complete a pass more than 10 yards downfield from the line of scrimmage. Plus, Franklin was deliberately giving a lot of defensive back-ups a predetermined number of snaps in the 1st half. That ended after the 96 yard touchdown drive at the 1st half.
Offensively, I thought Clifford and the receivers had a decent game. IMO, this game demonstrated that Clifford is a better passer than Trace. Trace would never have been able to throw the late 4th quarter bomb that enabled the Kitties to beat the spread. IF he’s given enough time to throw, Clifford will be able carve up most of the secondaries on State’s schedule.
But that’s a pretty big IF. Buffalo’s DL was not that good and they didn’t blitz linebackers or safeties. The better B1G defenses will be able to generate a pass rush with their DL, and some (like Michigan and Moo U) will blitz because their secondaries are athletic enough to cover State’s receivers. When that happens, I expect to see a lot of 3 and outs combined with a few 3 play touchdown drives – resulting in an exhausted PS defense by the middle of the 4th quarter. (i.e. deja vue all over again since 2016)
The Nittany Turkey says
Their yards per carry weren’t all that impressive. They were about the same as PSU’s. Woody “Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust” Hayes would have been happy with either fifty years ago.
Clifford looked lots better in this game after shaking his initial nerves.
I’m still taking the easy way out, reserving judgment until after Pitt and Maryland.
Some random notes:
Qb/WRs were the stars of the show (erases hamler drop from memory). Agree with Al-Clifford has a better arm.
OL just isn’t where it needs to be right now. 4 years running…..
Saw too many arm tackles in the first, as well as the DL getting blown off the ball.
That freshman lb, #12 is a straight up death missile. He ruins someone every game. Me likey.
The Nittany Turkey says
I guess I should be grateful for the crappy O-Line. It gives me something to bitch about here.
Were you a little nervous giving up 27.5? I was thinking about your bet during most of the game and was glad when they finally covered.
Felt good about the 42.5 team over by the end of the third. i was nervous for the spread until the final few minutes. The good news is that my kids were asleep upstairs for most of the game; otherwise their vocabulary might have expanded in the wrong direction.
Pitt opened up at my book for -17. I think there’s good value there.
The Nittany Turkey says
I’m seeing 17 and an o/u of 48.5, the latter of which I wouldn’t touch. I think the spread will hold. Some would object, citing historical performances, but I don’t think the current PSU cast cares very much about the Pitt-PSU past. That’s St. Joe Era stuff. This is no longer a rivalry grudge match.
What do you think about Maryland/Temple opening at MD-4? It shot up to -8 in a hurry, as one might expect after the Terps’ 63-point Saturday against a ranked opponent (granted, it was Syracuse). Is the hostile environment in Philly THAT hostile?
Temple plays at Lincoln financial, and the only time I’ve ever seen them fill it is when PSU is in town. Otherwise it’s pretty quiet.
MD -8 is a tough call. I’d take them at anything under -7, so -8 is a pass.
I’d take PSU up to -21 this weekend, and think about taking pitt and the points in the opening quarter due to Franklin’s teams coming out slow.