Penn State Season on the Line against the FFI
Yep, the 2021 season could all but vanish if the heavily favored #7 Nittany Lions (6-1, 2-1 B10) stumble against the Formerly Fighting Illini (FFI) (2-5, 1-3 B10) at High Noon on Homecoming Day.
Why do I even admit the possibility of stumbling? You DID see how our backup QB performed with the offense two weeks ago, right? You did see a veritable plethora of key injuries to key players, didn’t you?
Banged Up Lions
Penn State’s backup situation is not good. Not good at all. Ta’Quan Roberson can’t even get plays off. At least, he couldn’t in Iowa City. Talk about the noise all you want, but this act wasn’t ready for prime time and two weeks of practice with “the ones” won’t get it anywhere near ready for this week. Couple that with a demoralizing loss and some general lack of confidence after significant injury losses on both sides of the ball, and you have the potential for an upset this week. The upset potential is further enhanced by the natural tendency for everyone to look past this game to tOSU next weekend.
However. I guarantee that the FFI will not be worried about Ohio State. They are, as our guys should be, only concerned about going 1-0 this week.
The offensive brain trust has been working third-string freshman QB Christian Veilleux from Ottawa along with Roberson. Neither is seasoned enough at this point to run a game against a Big Ten opponent. I have not seen Veilleux in action and I have no idea of his strengths and weaknesses.
Not a Dumbass
Brett Bulimia (I know how it he really spells it) is not a dumbass, so he will no doubt ask his defense to load up on the run and force one of the raw QBs to pass, hoping for a disaster or two. Not that he really needs to worry, given the state of the Lions’ running game, which not only sucks this season, but now must be conducted without two talented running backs in Devyn Ford and John Lovett.
Bielema (actual spelling) spent the latter portion of the week doing damage control after he berated his roster earlier. He claims his remarks were taken out of context. That might be enough of a distraction to open the door a crack for Penn State. (I’m not Sanguinarianizing very much here, am I?).
Back to the field of mortal combat, Roberson can run, which might be the salvation if he can hang onto the ball. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll connect with one or two of our talented receivers, but I just don’t expect much from the passing game.
So, given all that, which you all knew already, let’s move on with this week’s predictions. First, the weather.
We’re looking at a gray fall day in Central Pennsylvania with a high of 57 and a 40% rain possibility. Not too windy. Autumn leaves drifting by my window.
Da Bottom LIne
Time for the feature you have been waiting for — the Officially Turkey Poop prediction, a real piece of crap extruded from the cloaca of this foul old fowl himself. The gamblers are oblivious to the Penn State injury/backup situation, currently favoring the Nittany Lions by 23½, with an over/under of 45½. That works out to a break-even 34-12 PSU win. In view of the backup QB situation as it is and the dreadful state of the running game, which is replete with injured backs, it is a mystery to me how the spread has widened since it opened at 23.
Illinois will be running the football; Penn State will be running the football. The FFI have had some rushing success this year, and they will take advantage of the loss of P.J. Mustipher at the heart of the PSU defense. I don’t see much scoring, at least until the defenses wear down. All I know is the spread is way too wide. I don’t give a crap if you all think the FFI are the worst team in the conference. We’ll see if the late money takes Illinois and the points. That’s where I’m going. Penn State won’t cover. Penn State 20, Illinois 17. Take the under.