Okay, that was sarcastic.
The #18 Penn State Nittany Lions (0-1) host the #3 Ohio State Buckeyes (1-0) in what will be a vacuum-packed monster mash on Halloween in Beaver Stadium (which will eventually be known as something like St. Joe Memorial Field at Verizon Beaver when the $73.5 million fund raising campaign to resolve the football program shortfall sells naming rights to the highest bidder). Penn State will be dressing up as a football team. Trick or treat!
Just like how the looming national election is being touted as the most important, consequential, monumental, and other similar superlatives, adjectives which we encounter every four years, this version of the Game of the Century ain’t all that.
Why, you ask?
Why, you ask? Because I said so. And in your mind of minds, you say so, too. The best indication of that was in some of the responses to a post on Facebook asking what must happen for PSU to win, which evoked responses such as “Ohio State’s bus breaks down” or “Ohio State’s top 70 players test positive for Covid-19”. Such disrespect for mighty Penn State, already!
What does eloquent Penn State head coach James Franklin have to say about the forthcoming game? Here it is, courtesy of Twitter:
Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State!#WeAre— James Franklin (@coachjfranklin) October 25, 2020
The silver-tongued, pseudo-selfless James, who attempts to emulate George H. W. Bush‘s technique taught to him by Bush’s mother to not use “I” in his public speech, fails to convince us on that score. However, from the Tweet above, we can glean that he knows how to spell Ohio State. Ohyesyesyes! Moreover, he didn’t miss a single comma or the terminal exclamation point. I’ll add that George H. W. Bush famously stated, “Fluency in English is not something I’m often accused of.”
As for Franklin, same old crap, only with more iterations. Vintage James Franklin is an old dog that resists learning new tricks, like effective clock management.
But I digress, as usual. What of this game?
Vell, I’ll tellya. I don’t hold out much hope. I’d add a couple things to the list of Facebook responses I mentioned above. Do everything quarterback Justin Fields smacks his head on a leaky steam pipe at Beaver Stadium, suffering a concussion with attendant amnesia. Or Ryan Day is so disoriented by the absence of a white-out that he and his team cannot find the stadium. Dumbass comments, but they’re the best I could concoct. You get the picture.
The big hope is that tOSU’s running game will sputter as it did against Nebraska in their rust-laden initial outing. They tried a bunch of runs, for which Scott Frost had prepared his defense. When Day saw what was going on, he gave the ball back to his baller and he balled. Justin Fields, that is. Running and passing, this boy is a star. Passing numbers of 20-21 for 276 yards and two touchdowns are damn near perfect — except when you add 15 carries for 54 more yards and a touchdown on the ground, you get a guy who can do it all.
Defensively, though, the Schmuckeyes allowed 370 total yards, including 210 yards rushing, in that game against Big Red. ‘Braska was able to get 5.8 yards per carry. Adrian Martinez managed to complete 12 of 15 for 105 yards passing.
Turkey’s Pretentious Keys to the Game
The Nebraska game performance doesn’t look as lopsided as the final score of 52-17 would make it appear. Yes, there is a glimmer of hope if Penn State can get its passing attack in gear and figure out who should be running the ball, but THEY MUST STOP JUSTIN FIELDS. The last part of that is going to be difficult, but the running game is problematical, too, given that both Journey Brown and Noah Cain are done for the season. It will be Devyn “I’m Taking It In” Ford and two freshman prospects providing the rushing offense.
It goes without saying (so I’ll say it) that the following are trusims, courtesy of the late Frank Gifford, as sardonically mocked by the late Howard Cosell:
- Turnovers’ll killya.
- Penalties’ll killya.
- Mistakes’ll killya.
Speaking of errors, missed field goals suck! We all thought we PSU was sound at the kicker position going into the Indiana game. Now, not so much.
I’ll stop using “I” for a while, so can sound like Franklin. Didn’t see much hope for the passing game against Indiana. Not going to know much about it until seeing it perform against Ohio State’s defense. Had to run a dumbed-down offense due to limited practice opportunities. Missed lots of open targets. Not many “chunk” plays. Lacked “explosiveness”. Too few “explosive” plays. (I’m sure as hell getting tired of hearing Franklin use that word “explosive”.). See Jahan Dotson run. Run run run. Oh Oh Oh. Won’t happen this week. No No No.
I’m back to writing in the first person. Screw it!
I agree with ESPN’s Matchup Predictor, which is based on ESPN’s Football Power Index. It gives PSU a 21% chance of winning. p = .21
Did I mention last year’s score of 28-17 at the Horseshoe? It has little relevance to this year’s outcome, but I thought I would mention it anyway because it was one game in which the confusion factor of a Will Levis run paid off. The Lions had a helluva third quarter after trailing 21-0. Jake Pinegar made a 42-yard field goal in the miraculous comeback, part of the 17 unanswered points. It didn’t even get close to either upright. Alas, nothing happened in the final stanza except for tOSU scoring a meaningless Fields to Olave touchdown to seal the victory.
So, what kind of weather will we see in Beaver Stadium? Funny you should ask. I haven’t looked it up yet. Hang on and I will. Okay, I’m back. Ahh, late October in State College. Wait fifteen minutes and it will change. (Wait! They say that everywhere!) Kickoff time temperature is forecast to be 38°, which should hold steady for the game. Winds will be 7 MPH, with no precipitation forecast. A slightly chilly game for the fans, but since no fans will be there, nobody cares.
Official, Lame Turkey Poop Prediction
For you nonexistent new readers, this is the section of my weekly pre-game column where I issue my out-of-the-ass prognostication for the game ahead. I call that the Official Turkey Poop Prediction (OTPP), because like all sportswriter predictions (only worse), it is an awful, steaming pile of offal. And you can take that to the bank. (Or more likely, the poor house).
What do the gamblers think? They are laying off Penn State, that’s for sure. That p = .21 is sure looming large in their thinking, with the money line as lopsided as it is. However, tOSU is favored by 12 now, with an over/under of 63.5. The spread might tempt some. Just remember 52-17 was the outcome of the Nebraska game. (I know. I know. We’re not Nebraska, already!).
Now, let’s translate the present gambling imbalance to the score the betting suggests, which is 38-26 (Penn State on the losing side, of course). How does this intrepid turkey see the game? I think the defense will overcommit to Fields, which won’t make any difference because he’ll get his yards one way or the other. Absent a strong and persistent presence of PSU defenders in the backfield, the Schmuckeyes will win this one going away in a walkover. What’s that you say? We always keep it close in Beaver Stadium? Not this time. Penn State 23, Ohio State 49. Take the over.
I’ll be back after the game with some comments if I have time before the Steelers take on the Ravens in The Game of the Century.