#7 Penn State 28, #16 Michigan 21
So you wanted to see Noah Cain finally in his element dominating a grind-it-out game? You thought: Of all games, this is the one! They’ll finally get it straight! Oh yeah? It didn’t happen. The dumbass four-man running back rotation prevailed once again as Penn State shot their wad with some chunk plays and then hung on to defeat Michigan in one of those games that give you no great amount of confidence in the future. The PSU offense choked in the second half, the defense got tired, and if Michigan’s own ineptitude and coaching vagaries hadn’t derailed them, the Wolverines would have — and should have — won. Hell, if normally sure-handed Ronnie Bell had caught that fourth-down pass in the end zone, we’d all be crying in our Yuengling-moistened Frosted Flakes this morning.
Penn State improves to 7-0, 4-0, while Michigan’s loss puts them at 5-2, 3-2, probably nixing their chances for a Big Ten title.
Decayed Rushing Attack
If you were too revulsed to look at the committee running stats, I’ll just briefly touch on them here. Among the four, Cain had the most carries (5) and only 19 yards. Ricky Slade had three carries for 48 yards, most of them on one 44-yarder. Journey Brown ran four times for 19 yards, and Devyn Ford was low man on the four-man totem pole with a single rush for two yards.
Turkey omniscience and prescience once again came to the fore, as the Nittany Lions’ offense achieved their predicted fifteen full minutes of sleep in the third quarter. They got into the dreaded pattern that has plagued them since kingdom come: run garbage play on first down, gain short yardage on second, then get stuck on third and long, and then have nothing in the trick bag to get the first down. Then wake up the punter and get a crappy punt.
Although Blake Gillikin woke up before the end of the third quarter, Michigan won the battle for field position and scored a predictable touchdown. I sat there in Mike’s Garage guaranteeing that Michigan would score on their next possession, and they did. It was clear to this turkey that the momentum had completely shifted, the PSU defense was tired, the old, shitty third-down scenario was in effect, so the offense was inept, and there was too much time on the clock. After that Michigan touchdown, I thought we would be overtaken in the fourth. And, yeah, we almost were. Only happenstance saved us.
Fortunately, a flash of brilliance involving K. J. Hamler (who else?) coupled with some Harbaugh lunacy and a drop by a very reliable receiver thwarted that embarrassing outcome. Jim Harbaugh confirmed the lapse, saying the defense missed a signal and were in the wrong formation for Hamler’s catch. Ronnie Bell is competent and the ball was right there in his hands. Nevertheless, the potential for ending up on the short side of the scoreboard was real, so if these guys keep this pattern going, they’re going to get smoked by not only tOSU, but also at least one of Moo U. and Minnesota. In fact, the only remaining game I feel very confident about is Piscataway Junior High on November 30.
Slip Slidin’ Away
Sean Clifford’s slide looks like an incompetent Little Leaguer trying to slide into third base while thinking about the caterpillar he was playing with on the bench. It is ugly and has cost us at least two first downs this season. Franklin even mentioned that slide at his presser last Tuesday, saying they were working on it with Clifford. Apparently, whatever work they have done has been ineffectual, as the awful slide once again reared its ugly head two or three more times in the Michigan game, confirming that there has been no substantive progress in the Clifford Slide Amelioration Program (CSAP).
(preferably in old newspapers, like smelly fish)
Michigan was the better team. I know stats are for losers but you cannot ignore the Nittany Lions’ crappy third-down performance (AGAIN), the anemic rushing game, and the lopsided IITOP. The Wolverines dominated “Increasingly Irrelevant” Time of Possession 37:45 to 22:15 — way to keep your defense on the field for way too long, Ricky and James! Have we forgotten how to move the ball down the field in any other way besides big chunk plays? What about short passes and a competent running game? Are those plays even in the repertoire? Can we execute them? Now that we’ve long passed the four-game redshirt limit, it appears that we will be stuck with the running back rotation for the rest of the year. I guess it gives us fans something to talk about.
Well, the final analysis is going to be that a win is a win and this was a win, but I don’t think any of us are happy with how it played out unless someone took Michigan and the points. Correct me if I’m wrong here.
We’re Number Six
At least until next week, when the BCS Playoff Rankings come out, Penn State is #6 in the FBS as represented in the AP Poll. Michigan, with a 5-2 record, dropped to #19. Also at 5-2, Iowa is right with them at #20. After losing to Illinois, Wisconsin sunk to #13, while tOSU leapfrogged Clemson to take over #3. Very silently, 7-0 Minnesota occupies #17.
I’ll be back during the week with a look at the Moo U. game, and maybe a few choice words of disparagement toward the Land Grant Trophy the two squads will vie for. Live long and prosper!