Indiana vs. PSU: The Big Ten Returns
The mighty Penn State Nittany Lions (0-0) travel to Bloomington to meet the Indiana Hoosiers (0-0) in the first game of the coronafucked clustervirus 2020 off-again/on-again Big Ten Season. Let me join the rest of the hack sportswriters out there with nothing more interesting to say than, “At last!” Oy vey.
So, why such a formidable opponent for our first game without so much as a pre-season warmup with Kent State? (Don’t answer that. I just wanted to see whether you were still paying attention after getting all you needed to know from the first paragraph). Read on, if you dare!
Are we an elite team or just a great team?
I saw in BWI that Matt Herb wrote the following drivel in his lead story about the forthcoming game:
The prospect of opening against the No. 8 team in the country might seem daunting. But the Hoosiers have been looking for a statement victory in recent years as they’ve steadily improved their program to the point where frequent bowl contention seems like a realistic expectation. So why not go for that win right off the bat?
Well, first of all, Matty, what the hell makes you think Penn State is the Number Eight team in the country, other than worthless polls that don’t mean shit until we see something on the field? And the sanguinarians intone, “Bring on Clemson! Bring on ‘Bama!” Oh yeah. Huzzah huzzah. My ass! That Number Eight bullshit was pulled straight out of sportswriters’ asses even before they knew anything about anything, including that PSU would be losing the services of its best running back for the season.
We Love You, Journey!
Our thoughts and wishes for a speedy recovery are with Journey Brown, who many thought would have had an All-Big Ten season. Some even thought All-America. Oh, and then there are those homies that felt he was a lock for the Heisman. Penn State will not disclose the nature of the illness, but from the reverent tones used by head coach James Franklin in his presser, one would assume that it is much more serious than a bout with mononeucleosis. In referring to what Journey faces as a “battle”, the C-word comes to mind (the other C-word). No matter what, two things are evident: Journey would be playing if he could and he faces a long, arduous path toward healing. Get well, Journey!
Bad Good is Nativeamericaniana?
But I digress, as usual. Matt Herb’s hyperbole aside, Indiana has improved over being the whipping boy of the Big Ten East. Of course, the Hoosiers got an automatic boost when Maryland (ew) and Rutgers (suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks) joined the league — they could not possibly eclipse the level of incompetence demonstrated by those two. Beyond that, though, last year the men from Nativeamericaniana were able to put 27 points on our boys’ defense, which included Micah Parsons at that point. Nineteen Hoosiers starters return to the team from last year. One skinny touchdown of a difference in that game last year with Nativeamericaniana, and the PSU defense surely suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked.
Yeah, they did, o those of you with memories shorter than your Penix. What else do you call giving up 462 yards, of which 371 were birdie ball? (See the birdie. Watch it fly. Oh Oh Oh.) And THAT was with QB Peyton Ramsey who transferred to Northwestern as a graduate with one more year of eligibility when he saw the handwriting on the wall (written by someone other than Matt Herb, so it said something important) telling him to get out of town fast because his position would be supplanted by a turgid, engorged Penix.
That game was last November and it did not portend well for the subsequent week’s outing against tOSU. The Lions were 9-1 after the slim victory over Nativeamericaniana, and in the following weeks they went on to lose to Ohio State and look like shit against Rutgers, which embarrassed me in the presence of my in-laws in Chicago. And then, they gave up 39 points to Memphis in the damn Cotton Bowl. Yeah, Micah Parsons had 14 tackles in that post-season game, but he sure as hell didn’t get a lot of help from the rest of the Swiss Cheese Defense. And now he’s gone. Who’s going to clean up after the guys making the half-assed tackles this year?
Anyhow, is our convenient excuse for last year that Penn State was looking past Indiana toward the great big giant game with tOSU, where the Sanguinarians absolutely knew that our season would be redeemed? That is bullshit of the football bar talk variety. I spew a lot of it here, so I know bullshit when I see it. If that’s the excuse for the half-assed defense in last year’s game, then guess what? Yeah, that’s right. tOSU next week. Happy Halloween!
So, let’s look at this Indiana game as two untested equals looking to establish some order. Whoever wins will be 1-0 in the Big Ten, a distinction they will share with six other teams. Shitcan this #8 stuff — let’s just direct our attention to beating Indiana.
PSU Has an OK Offense, I Think
Good news: Pat Friermuth is back after having considered alternatives for this FUBAR 2020 season. Thus, the tandem of Clifford to Friermuth is intact. That means we’ll have some semblance of a passing offense, although without practice, who can really say?
The pundits are saying the offensive line is sound, for what that’s worth. Another good sign for the offense, it it proves to be true — with the same disclaimer regarding practice.
Finally, in spite of Journey Brown’s undisclosed, season-ending illness and Ricky Slade’s transfer, we still have Noah Cain and Devyn Ford, along with a couple of promising freshmen. Given an effective offensive line, Penn State could have a reasonably balanced, albeit unpracticed offense.
We’ll all be watching Kirk Ciarocca in his debut as Offensive Coordinator. My feeling is that he should use his whole bag o’ tricks on Indiana, which will make it more entertaining and competitive. Of course, it will have to be limited due to no practices, but who cares if the Schmuckeyes happen to see something they can capitalize on? This is a bunch of kids having fun on a Saturday afternoon, not a life and death matter by any stretch of the imagination. So, I ain’t going to join all the armchair coaches and quarterbacks spewing the common wisdom on this subject. Let ‘er loose, Kirk! At least you won’t have to worry about rowing any damn boats in State College! (The only “river” I know about is that trout stream over in Bellefonte, but I digress…)
The big question marks in my mind are on defense. They have to show me some ability to rush the passer and cover receivers in this game, or they’ll be flummoxed by the turgid Penix. And up front, they have to learn how to tackle. So many attempts at arm tackles last year resulted in runners breaking free. Will that improve? After all, they lost their leading tackler, Micah Parsons, who was there to offset their crappy tackling every other play.
Hey, many of my six loyal readers are either Iggles (1-4-1) or Stillers (5-0) fans. The Stillers are facing a rough road-trip stretch the next three weeks — well, it would have been a tough three weeks if the Cowboys didn’t suck so bad, so make it a rough stretch over the next two weeks. As the yo-yos say, this could make or break the season. Undefeated after five games for the first time since 1978, the Stillers face two consecutive weeks of road games, landing in Tennessee on Sunday and hopping over to Baltimore the following week. The Titans, like the Stillers, are 5-0, while the Ravens at 5-1 had one loss (to Kansas City).
Now, as for the Iggles… Hey, they’re in second place in the NFC East, just half a game behind the hapless, 2-4 Dallas Cowgirls. Anything can happen in that division, where the percentagewise spread between the best and the worst is just 16.66666666666666… % and where the best is two games under .500.
And so, let’s wrap this up with a little Penix.
After that NFL digression and before my bold, out-of-the-ass prediction, I have to use the word Penix again. (Jenny says I’m a superannuated 13 year-old). But as my Polish urologist says, let’s have a look at this Penix.
Taking P. Ram’s place in 2019 Michael Penix, Jr., went 110 for 160, for a completion percentage of 68.8%. In anybody’s book, that is an excellent rate. He threw 10 TDs and only 4 INTs, with 1,394 yards gained, for a passer rating of 157.6. This Penix is going to fool around with our porous secondary if the boys up front cannot put adequate pressure on him, forsooth! Pressure on the Penix, I say! That’s the key to the game.
Crappy Article, Crappy Prediction
Yes, it’s that time. (In the words of hack sportswriters and me, not necessarily inclusive, I NEVER THOUGHT WE’D GET TO SAY THAT THIS SEASON). The first Official Turkey Poop Prediction of the FUBAR 2020 season is nigh, and you’ll be the first to read it if no one else sees it first!
But first, a sober word of condolences to Indiana University alumna and friend Michele, who recently lost her beloved husband Lev. I hope your Hoosiers do well for you, Michele. Rest in peace, Lev. We love you both.
And now, the Official Turkey Poop prediction. You know, with a tabula rasa, the Sanguinarians will be all over the place with their 47-3 predictions. Yes, this time of the year is a Sanguinarian wet dream, where PSU is always 12-0, even in an eight game season. (Or nine, with the value-added gratuitous revenue game). So, I’ll just join the bunch with a complete, out-of-the-ass, nonsensical prediction. Penn State is favored by six as I write this, with an over/under of 60. Yeah, a veritable pitchers’ duel. So, all else being equal, that would suggest a 33-27 win for the Nittany Lions. Jeez, d’ya think they were looking at last year’s result? Well, what the hell else do they have to look at? So, I’ll go with PSU 35, Nativeamericaniana 29, just because we had that score one time, like in 1994. (I hope Kerry Collins can pull this one out for us, too). If I were you, I’d lay off the o/u, because who the hell knows what happens in a fur pile? It’s liable to be a high-scoring shootout — or not!
I’ll be back after the game with more of my infinite wisdom. Stay tuned!