#6 Penn State 28, Moo U. 7
When do I start believing in these guys, who once again had an angel on their shoulder in the rain in East Lansing? Should my conclusion be that the rest of the Big Ten sucks except perhaps for Ohio State? Maybe the Schmuckeyes suck, too, only less. I’m so confused.
The Lions didn’t play exceptionally well, but it was good enough to win. They jumped out to an early lead. They took care of the ball under adverse conditions. They took advantage of turnovers. They ran by committee. Yet I damn near fell asleep (again) in the third quarter, which was decidedly not unexciting. And then, it seemed to drag on forever. Perhaps it’s my beta-blocker.
While the Nittany Lions edged the Spartans in IITOP 31:40 to 28:20, the third-down conversions were back to a putrid 29%. Pass drops were rampant, although the weather provided some excuses. Moreover, discipline was decidedly absent — what is it with these guys? Nine penalties for 104 yards, including an ejection for spitting on an opponent. Not only do they win ugly, but they apparently want to be ugly.
However, Sean Clifford took care of business, 18-32 for 189 yards, four TDs (three to Pat Freiermuth) and one INT. So did Blake Gillikin, with eight punts for 354 yards, including five inside the 20. A weapon, indeed.
It wasn’t a good ball-handling day for Moo U. We had mused about slippery ball syndrome in our pre-game coverage, and it turned out to be a major factor. They coughed up two fumbles and tossed two interceptions. What was that comment about Brian Lewerke channeling his inner Nate Stanley?
A bye week and then, undefeated Minnesota, who has played nobody — eight wins, arguably the best of which was 4-3 Nebraska. I’m afraid I cannot take them too seriously (but I hope our favorite team does). I expect the line to open favoring PSU by 6-7 points.
Nobody is talking about Indiana at this point. Nobody. That game, on November 16, is a potential trap game if we get by the Rodents. The Hoosiers are 6-2, with the two losses to tOSU and Moo U.
Looking at the Penn State offense, I still cannot believe these guys are winning each week, but regardless, eight wins are in the record books. As I mentioned at the beginning, I’m just not yet convinced, so I have to believe that while it is possible to handle Minnesota on their home turf (which will still require focus and sound football), the string has to end in Columbus on November 23.
But wait! What if Penn State is the [cue trumpets] Teammmmm of Dessssssstinnyyyyyyyyyyyyy? What if Ohio State sucks, too? Look at who they’ve beaten. Wisconsin (6-2) is the best of the bunch by far, but the Badgers had previously lost to Illinois. The Bucks beat Moo U by 24 points while the Spartans were still ranked. We beat the Moo U in the rain by 21. Are the Buckeyes all that fearsome?
The sports media are already talking about an Ohio State-LSU title game, a sure sign than Ohio State will be derailed by either PSU or Michigan. Look at how the Wolverines took apart Notre Dame tonight. They seem to be playing with renewed resolve and will be able to pull out all stops for their season-end rivalry tilt with the Schmuckeyes.
Of course, I’m not looking past Minnesota, our forthcoming post-bye Super Bowl. If the team does that, the big showdown with tOSU might never come. Have any of you changed your opinion of this Penn State team?
I’ll be back sometime before the Baaatttttle of the Unnnnnnndefeateds: PSU vs. the Auric Rodents.