Penn State 24, Indiana 0
Michael Penix never got the chance to pull out a last-second miracle win this year’s game by running in a two-point conversion. He left the game early with a shoulder injury and besides, the Hoosiers were unable to score at all on Penn State’s stodgy defense.
Penix and Sean Clifford had nearly identical stats. Penix was 16-34 for 195 yards, while Clifford was 16-34 for 199 yards. Both were intercepted once, but Clifford had one touchdown to his credit. Jack Tuttle went 6-12 for 77 yards in relief of Penix, and he was also intercepted once.
The big difference, which we’ve been bitching about throughout the season, was the running game. Penn State finally enjoyed an over 200 yard rushing day. Along with that, the Nittany Lions dominated IITOP 34:53 to 25:07. Now, they’re finally playing football.
So, the net effect of Oregon losing might well be to move Penn State up to #3, at least in the AP Poll. On Friday night, Iowa demolished Maryland 51-14. They’ll move up, too. I’ve suggested that they should leapfrog PSU, but that was when I was convinced that Indiana would provide some competition.
Alabama and Georgia are secure at #1 and #2, but they could easily be flip-flopped without major arguments from anyone but extreme partisans. If the crazy sportswriters vote as I expect, Penn State will be #3 and Iowa #4, setting up next week’s showdown at Kinnick Stadium.
It’s cool that there will be two SEC teams and two Big Ten teams in the top four. Would that it could be that way at season’s end. Ain’t gonna happen. If Alabama and Georgia make it through the season undefeated, then they will meet in the SEC Championship game. One of them has to lose, but at that stage of the season, they probably won’t fall out of the top four. Either of those two would clean Penn State’s clock, and probably Iowa, too.
I had been saying that the #4 — now #3 — wouldn’t last past October. With Iowa at Kinnick next week, there is big potential for a first loss of the year. Then, there are two bye weeks, one against Illinois, followed by Ohio State on the 30th. Plenty of possibilities to lose the lofty ranking in October!
But what if they don’t?
If they don’t, and if they are still up there when the CFP selection happens, the Nittany Lions will have the privilege of getting their asses kicked in the first round by Georgia, Alabama, or whoever.
With that, I’ll ask you for your assessment of what the future holds for the Penn State Nittany Liosn.
(I’ll be back later in the week with an assessment of the Iowa game.).