It’s Easy: Ta-go-vai-lo-a
One aspect of due diligence when scouting the opponent of the week in hopes of going 1-0 is learning to say the name of the opposing quarterback. I’m talking to you, James Franklin! Sure, it sounds trivial, but how long have the Tagovailoa brothers been prominent in the sports buzz? Come on, James! You could at least practice it a little bit before the media conference, as you knew you would be talking about the kid. You find all my triggers, Franklin, and you never fail to piss me off. Taulia Tagovailoa. Repeat after me.
St. Joe used to piss me off, too. He couldn’t remember player names. Instead, he would refer to “the #72 kid” or some such thing. But you don’t expect senility from a guy Franklin’s age. Nevertheless, he would have been ahead of the game if he had called Taulia “the #3 kid”.
All that having been said, hello! This is the Nittany Turkey back here for your reading pleasure (or lack of same) for yet another week in this disappointing season. Yes, disappointing! No matter what happens in the next four games, many of us have already written off the 2021 Nittany Lions. Talk of bowl games in Las Vegas, Nashville, and New York doesn’t make us feel any better about them. We’re just hoping to avoid embarrassment.
Sanguinarians might tell you that there is still a chance for Penn State to make the playoffs. Say what? Well, you know that Sanguinarians’ perpetual posture involves cranial rectal insertion. Anything goes in that warm, dark, smelly place, especially delusion. In the words of John McEnroe, “YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS!” The CFP Committee has shown Penn State absolutely no respect in the rankings, where the Big Ten is well represented otherwise. Moo U., tOSU, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa are all ranked. Penn State is not, although the AP media wonks see things differently, ranking them #22. However, I deviate from this week’s task at hand.
The Explosive Hare vs. the Hapless Tortoise
Who wants to go to College Park? Who wants to play Maryland? The point is moot. PSU must play them every year, as they are one of the pseudo-rivalry teams retired Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany chose for Penn State. The others are Rutgers and Moo U. Unranked Maryland brings a record identical to Penn State’s to this fray, yet somehow, the Sanguinarians still consider Penn State superior, perhaps because the Lions didn’t get their clocks cleaned quite as badly as did the Terps at the behest of the Schmuckeyes or the Schmohawks. Before last week’s win over wayward, wounded Indiana, Maryland had dropped three straight. Sound familiar? At least they had the dignity to lose to Minnesota, not Illinois.
Yet, somehow, Penn State is favored in this game, by ten points, already. That might have something to do with Maryland’s injury situation on offense, where two highly productive receivers have gone down. Jeshaun Jones and Durell Nchami, two of the top three wide receivers are out for the remainder of the season. It also reflects optimism that the Nittany Lions’ 114th ranked rushing offense might somehow be able to run against a defense that has allowed 161 yards per game rushing, which is even worse than PSU’s rushing defense, which ranks #66. Penn State’s anemic offense can finally produce — what a concept! We’ll see. There is an equal chance that they’ll stink up the place like the Homecoming debacle against Illinois.
It will be fun to watch Tua, Jr. (OK, Taulia — I can pronounce it, too). He better be well prepared for our vaunted secondary, which even this Turkey admits is active, engaged, and effective.
But Maryland has been giving up lots of points this year, ranking 95th in scoring defense and providing an opportunity for Penn State to improve upon its 78th ranked scoring offense, which produces a paltry 26.5 points per game.
Franklin’s Combustible Battle
I’m sick and tired of hearing Franklin talk about “the explosive play battle”. This whole explosive shit is stale and it suuuuuuuuuuuucks. How about just playing sound football and taking deep shots when the situations arise? Risk-taking is necessary, but to win these final four regular season games, Penn State will have to rely on fundamentals most of the time. Let’s put the “R” back in “RPO”. Can we? Ummmm, I don’t think so…
So, two teams with identical records tied for mediocrity in the Big Ten East but with Penn State favored by ten. Hmmmmm. What do Sanguinarians see that I and the CFP committee don’t see? A “signature” nine-point loss to the Schmuckeyes last week? Superior talent with inferior coaching? Hell, they’re even optimistic that the line play on both defense and offense will improve. There must be comfort in the heads-up-the-ass posture. Will the Lions play like they did against Illinois or will they play like they did against Ohio State? Regardless of the health of Sean Clifford, it’s well-nigh impossible to predict!
It’s that shitty time of year in the northeast, but it looks like the weatherman has given us a break on Saturday, with a high of 56 after an overnight low of 30. The field should not be frozen, and there will be periods of clouds and sun, so the boys can frolic.
Da Bottom Line
Time now for the amazingly inaccurate and moderately offensive Official Turkey Poop Prediction. I haven’t kept count of my failures, either straight up or against the spread, this season, but I know one thing: I suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. Most of the unscientific prognostications are pulled straight out of my ass, in which no Sanguinarian heads can be found.
The gambling line, as I mentioned previously, is 10 in favor of Penn State, and the over/under is 56, Unless I’m missing something, I don’t think Penn State is 10 points better than the Terps, although I’ll knock a few points off their scoring average of 29.2 for losing those receivers. The gamblers are forecasting a 33-23 Nittany Lions win, but I’m not convinced they can score 33 points against anyone this year. The only thing that gives me hope is that their third-down conversions didn’t suck last week, so now they rank 85th in that category. Baby steps. Penn State 24, Maryland 20; take the under. (It would have been 27-20, but Stout will miss one field goal he should have made).
(I’ll be back to reluctantly report on this ridiculous game).