#10 PSU (10-2) vs. #17 Memphis (12-1)
While favored by a touchdown against the prevailing AAC champs, you have to wonder what the Nittany Lion team psyche holds in store for us on Saturday at noon in the Cotton Bowl Classic.
The game is now played in the imposing AT&T monument to capitalism. tax abatements, Big Football-a, and Jerry Jones, deep in the heart of Arlington, Texas. If any venue is more awe inspiring than the Big Beave, this is it. Lions and Tigers and Cowboys — OH MY!
Add to that the departure of Ricky Rahne as offensive coordinator and the hiring of his replacement, Kirk Ciarrocca, late of the Minnesota Golden Rodents. Lotta shit going on with ridiculous transfer portals, NFL draft announcements, etc. Fine barbecued meat nothwithstanding, I would classify all this officially as distractions up the ass.
Who Calls the Offense?
Obviously, the offensive play calling won’t fall on Ciarrocca’s shoulders in this game. He ain’t got time to implement any kind of a system, so we’ll probably be seeing much the same old offense. Nominal interim OC Tyler Bowen will call the plays, kibbitzed, of course, by James Franklin. However, with the permanent job going to an exogenous candidate and with nothing on the line, Bowen might be given the opportunity to express himself, showcasing his talent in Jerry’s Palace for all in the hunt for offensive genius to see.
Be all that as it may, we have the issue of a noon game on the road (it will be 11 AM CST for da boys). Our catnapping Lions typically don’t get charged up for those. Couple that with disappointed pouting over not getting the Rose Bowl and you have a scenario that favors coming out with “that dullard look.” But who knows? Maybe Tyler Bowen has the secret “it” that will inspire and motivate the Kitties.
Memphis’ offense is described as “explosive”, while James Franklin believes in “explosiveness”. Whole lot of demolition potential on that field on Saturday. This could be a high-scoring affair, if PSU comes to play. Will they?
Who the hell knows which PSU team we’ll see? Star wide receiver (the only one) K.J. Hamler has deferred his announcement regarding whether he’ll be back next year until after the Cotton Bowl. You know what that means. If he was going to stick around, he would have said so. With Justin Shorter gone to the ridiculous NCAA transfer portal, we’ll have only a couple known targets downfield for the semi-hobbled Sean Clifford.
Memphis’ rushing defense is less a cat than a pussy. They rank #80 in that category. This seems like an opportunity for Noah Cain and Journey Brown to “make a statement” LOL.
Crouching Tigers, Missing Jaggoffs
Given the Tigers’ passing prowess, the Penn State defense needs to show up. By the way, their rushing game isn’t half bad, either. We’ll need a better effort from the secondary than we’ve seen in recent games. However, with several key Nittany Lion defenders having already announced they’re going elsewhere, you have no idea what we’ll be seeing. We’ll be looking at replacements in a lot of positions getting in some playing time before next season.
I should mention the departure of Memphis head coach Mike Norvell, who was hired by the has-been Florida State Seminoles. Defensive coordinator Adam Fuller is also missing from the Tigers’ crouching staff.
By da Numbers
Memphis ranks eighth in scoring offense in the FBS while PSU ranks seventh in scoring defense. Something’s gotta give! Now, here is where the Big Ten Chauvinsts and PSU Sanguinarians come out and decry the Tigers’ “lesser competition”, “weaker schedule”, or just say, “the AAC suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks!” Thing is, if the team gets to thinking that way, we’re fucked. Remember Kentucky last year. That’s why I’m saying this Cotton Bowl is all about team psyche.
The number nine running back in the nation will be lined up on the Memphis side, appropriately named Kenny Gainwell, a 5’11 191 pound freshman from appropriately named Yazoo City, MS. And while, he ain’t in the top ten, junior QB Brady White is a serviceable passer at #12 in the FBS, with 33 TDs and only 9 INTs.
The Tigers know how to convert third downs, too, ranking #20. Look at PSU with their middle-of-the-pack mediocrity in that category (Rank 45, and I do mean rank).
Talking about the Future in the Present Tense
Should I do it? I mean, should I forget that we have tenses in the English language and write like the rest of the dorks who purport to be sports journalists (an oxymoron if ever there was one). Shall I do something like the following, lifted from BSD?
KJ Hamler and Journey Brown both lead the charge for the offense. In what could be his final game as a Nittany Lion, Hamler contributes 105 receiving yards and a score, as well as a huge kick return to set up a key touchdown in the second half. Journey Brown goes off for 120 yards on the ground and two touchdowns, while Pat Freiermuth finds some holes in the Tigers defense to add another.—Jared, BSD Cotton Bowl Roundtable
No, sorry. I cannot bring myself to write that shittily. Just because it seems to be de rigueur for every damn hack sportswriter or broadcaster doesn’t mean I have to concede that the English language is merely a vestige of what it once was. Call me a dinosaur, but I can write in cursive, too. I know that future perfect means something other than a repeat of the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
What the hell am I going on about? Ahhh, nothing! I’m just taking a parting shot based on some of my pet peeves with the crap one sees written and spoken these days. Shit, man, “the King’s English” shouldn’t mean constructing sentences like LeBron. And the Queen’s English must be a truism or a song by Freddie Mercury. Oh yeah.
But I digress. How do I get on these lunatic tangents?
It don’t matter. They’re playing in an air conditioned palace.
Da Bottom Line
Good Memphis barbecue aside, this one will be a barn burner if and only if PSU shows up to play. If they don’t, Memphis will rain on their parade. Reflective of the potential for a scorefest, irrespective of Penn State’s vaunted defense, the over/under settled down right around 61 points for this one. Coupled with the seven-point spread, that yields a gambling community projection of 34-27 in favor of Penn State. I think PSU will win by a field goal or less. Penn State 49, Memphis 47.
The Nittany Turkey wishes you and yours a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!
I might be back after the game with some insights into why it never goes the way I think it’s going to go, but I make shit up anyway. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions “control their own destiny”, whatever the hell THAT means!