#6 Penn State (3-0, 1-0 B10) hosts FCS Villanova (3-0)
What’s weird is that Villanova won the most recent game in the series, yet no one is worried except James Franklin. At his mediafest, he spouted off all the FCS vs. FBS upsets known to mankind. I imagine him drumming that in with the team all week long, with the intent of inspiring them to go 1-0 in a week that could be a disaster if they don’t pay attention. It sure as hell has happened before, back in 1951, extending ‘Nova’s win streak in the series to three games.
What, you don’t remember 1951? That was the year I matriculated at Miss Newell’s Kindergarten class at Fulton School in Pittsburgh, so I can’t remember a damn thing other than kicking Jacky Wilder in the chin when I didn’t obey the command to fall down while playing Ring around the Rosie. Oh yeah, Sammy Liberto’s dad was a milkman, so he frequently brought us foil caps (could have been lead foil, for all I know — we liked to poison kids back then) from the glass milk bottles of the day, which served us well as crafts supplies. We made garlands out of them. That was fun, although I’ve never been very artistic. Autistic, maybe. But I digress nostalgically.
PSU Leads All-Time Series
Penn State’s record against Villanova is 5-3-1, but they haven’t played each other since that fateful early fall day in 1951 on a neutral site in Allentown, where the mighty Villanova Wildcats defeated the larger felines 20-14. You’ll have to go back to 1935, before I was even conceived, to find a Penn State victory in the series. My mom and dad were 15 then — a lonnnnnnnng time ago. Villanova has won the past three games in the series. I don’t know why the ‘Cats screwed up in 1935, but weird things were the norm back in the Great Depression, when cats were busy scrapping for food in alleys or starving.
Am I saying Villanova has a chance? Nahhhhh. I’ve forgotten about them already. Just giving you a piece of history, which you might already have read somewhere else, except the Jacky Wilder story. I don’t have much to say, but I’ll try to focus on football for a little while and then I’ll give you my completely out-of-the-ass prediction.
I’m not happy with PSU being ranked #6. What have they done to deserve that? Beat #21 Auburn? Before that, they beat similarly over-ranked with even fewer data points, Wisconsin? Ball State? Nuttin’! Look at Penn State’s rankings in all categories, and you’ll see that they’re middle of the pack.
The BBDB defense is 56th, allowing 342 yards per game. Rushing offense is ranked #101, producing a scanty 128 yards per game. You would hope that the passing offense would balance that out, but noooooo… we’re looking at #43 there, at 267 yards per game. In third down conversions, we’re back to the same old bullshit, tied for 79th, with a .389 rate of success. The best stat other than net punting yards — and the one that beat Wisconsin — is the turnover margin, where PSU is tied for seventh with seven other schools including Alabama, Oklahoma, and Iowa, with a 1.67 average. The Nittany Lions have done well hanging onto the ball and forcing the other guys to cough it up, which has won two out of three games for them.
Back to defense, the pass rush blows, ranking 110th in sacks with a measly one sack per game. Matching its total defense rank, PSU is 56th in passing yards allowed, while ranking 70th in rushing defense. I mentioned net punting yards before. The Lions rank fourth overall in that category.
It Will Even Out
While early season rankings are meaningless, they’ll converge later with more data points becoming available with each week. Sometime before Week 8, we will REALLY know where this squad ranks. They will have run the gantlet of Indiana, #5 Iowa, and #10 tOSU by then. After that “Murderer’s Row”, the Nittany Lions will still have to meet Maryland, resurgent #19 Michigan, Rutgers, and #20 Moo U. Those stated rankings might well be completely different by then.
I Haven’t Said Much About Villanova
I guess I will say something. Both Jim Croce and Toby Keith went to school there, so Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown must be on the football team, but They’re Not as Good as They Once Was. Watch out, though. Don’t Mess Around with Jim, Jim Franklin, that is.
Villanova University was born as St. Augustine Academy in 1811. St. Augustine, aside from developing modern Christian doctrine and the concept of original sin, is also the patron saint of brewers. This begs a question that has been nagging at me. Schmidt’s beer was made in Philadelpha. With the patron saint of brewing being right there at Villanova, you would think they could have done a better job to impress him. Schmidt’s suuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked! Philadelphia beer was so bad that when Schmidt’s Brewery closed in 1987, it was the last brewery to operate in Philly. Forever and ever. Amen.
There, I said something about Villanova.
Ahhh, a soporific noon start, where we can expect to see “that dullard look” from our boys. It’ll be a 70-degree day when the fog burns off, a genuinely nice early autumn day. Just don’t lose 20-14 like they did in 1951.
Da Bottom Line
Does anyone know a sports book that is taking action on this game? I can’t find one. Somewhere, I read that Penn State is favored by 29 points, but I have no idea how and why that number was chosen. If there’s no gambling, there’s no over/under, so I’ll just pull a prediction out of my ass and run with it. Penn State covers, winning by a nice margin, and the defense will score a touchdown in the process. Aside from the dullard look, I’ll be looking for the running game to get established, for a change. So, anyway, Penn State 45, Villanova 6.
(I’ll be back after the game to tell you just how wrong I was).