Penn State 41, Auburn 12
Penn State (3-0, 1-0 Big Ten) added a nail to Bryan Harsin’s coffin at Auburn (2-1, 0-0 SEC) with a dominating second half performance in oranged-out Jordan-Hare, 41-12. A Penn State running game was in evidence.
Are you convinced yet? Penn State is clearly going to the CFP! I know because Sanguinarians are posting crap saying so all over the Internet. Surely, we’ll crack the Top Ten this week! OMG OMG, visions of glory. But I have three words for you: REMEMBER LAST YEAR. Or in otherthreewords, to quote Lee Corso, NOT SO FAST!
Well, we won the war, but did we win the battles? (Yet another overused, hackneyed Franklin metaphor).
Among the positive signs comforting to even non-Sanguinarians was the line play on both sides of the ball. The much-maligned offensive line showed signs of understanding run blocking schemata. Penn State wound up with 245 yards rushing on 39 attempts. Sean Clifford was well protected in the passing game, which took a backseat to the run, with no sacks recorded. Meanwhile, the defense notched six sacks and eleven tackles for loss, along with nine QB hurries. Abdul Carter, the latest stud to wear #11, had six solo tackles, a sack, and a TFL. Encouraging performance!
The mighty Penn State defense forced four turnovers while the offense committed none of their own.
Early on, it seemed that the noise drills Franklin ran back in Happy Valley were ineffectual. In Franklin’s words “we did NOT win the penalty battle.”
Penn State improved to a 5-11 performance on third-down conversions.
Jake Pinegar was 2-2 on field goals and 5-5 on extra points. A perfect day for Jake. Barney Amor had a decent day punting, averaging 43 yards on only three punts.
Coaching Battle — ByeBye Harsin
Bryan Harsin is on his way out as Auburn head coach. Five straight losses to Power Five teams suggest it. While this game might not seal the deal, an in-conference loss to Mizzou next week might just do the trick.
As for Franklin, what’s with that stupid fourth-down call in the opening series? Clifford has just had his bell rung on an open field third-down run, and our boy James calls a QB sneak on fourth around the 50?
On to CMU (No, Not Carnegie-Mellon)
Penn State will be favored for the next couple of weeks in preparation for the bye week and the road trip to the Big House. Nevertheless, they must not overlook Central Michigan and Northwestern. This week, CMU blanked Bucknell 41-0, while NWU was embarrassed by Southern Illinois, 31-24.
Around the Big Ten
Most of the Eastern powerhouses summarily dispatched their feeble opponents. Aside from PSU, #3 Ohio State trouced Toledo 77-21, while #4 Michigan mushed the UConn Huskies 59-0. Formerly #11 Moo U. was the exception, being mushed by the other Huskies of Washington, 39-28. Indiana (3-0) outlasted Wested Kentucky 33-30 in overtime, while in the conference’s only high school games, Rutgers squeaked by Temple 16-14 while Maryland came back to overcome the ponies of SMU, 34-27.
Although there are encouraging signs of life in the running game this year, do not forget how the season went last year. I’d rather forget it, but those who don’t remember the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them.
We’re certainly favored to be 5-0 going into the Michigan game, just as we were 5-0 last year going into the Iowa game, having beaten Wisconsin, Ball State, Auburn, Villanova, and Indiana. After losing to Iowa, the Nittany Lions were only able to beat Maryland and Rutgers, winding up 7-6. So, once again, cautious optimism is the path forward.
With #11 Moo U. losing, #18 Florida barely squeaking by USF, Oregon kicking some #12 Mormon ass, and #13 Miami losing to the Aggies, there’s some upward movement possible in the polls, which are essentially meaningless at this juncture in the season. Remember, mateys, that PSU made it all the way to #4 last year before The Battle of the Century with #3 Iowa — both teams’ rankings proved to be completely full of shit.
I’ll be back mid-week with a look at the mighty Chippewas! Can we still call them the Chippewas? How about just the Chippies? That wouldn’t offend anyone. Carpenters in the UK and loose women in the US would be singularly honored.
Big Al says
The offense has clearly improved with the addition of Singleton, Allen, and Aller. However, the defense may not as good as last year. The sacks and turnovers obscured the fact that Auburn generated 416 yards of total offense – including 296 passing yards or 7.8 yards per attempt – which is .5 more yards per attempt than Auburn got against San Jose State. Plus, Auburn’s quarterbacks aren’t all that good – tOSU, Minnesota, Maryland, Indiana, and Moo U have better quarterbacks (I deliberately omitted Michigan’s qbs since they’re just a slightly upscale version of Graham Mertz and the reason why UM will get stomped again if they get lucky enough to make the playoff this year.)
On the other hand, it appears that, except for maybe Indiana and Minnesota, none of teams Penn State plays this year have improved So, it’s entirely possible that some of those one score losses from last year can be turned into wins. If the Kitties play with intensity and some degree of poise they should be able to beat Central Michigan, Northwestern, Indiana, Maryland, and Rutgers. So, the Sanguinarians may be justified in dreaming about getting to a New Year’s Six bowl – Minnesota and Moo U are beatable and both games are at the Beav. A lot probably depends on how the team reacts after losing to Michigan and tOSU. If they go into a funk after losing to Michigan, they could easily be looking at a 3 game losing streak.
It will be interesting to see how State’s defense performs against CMU. Their defense is total garbage, but their offense may be the best in the MAC
The Nittany Turkey says
Their offense has put up some numbers, but if you look at their performance against Bucknell last week, it was a study in incompetence. They barely managed a touchdown toward the end of the first half, after a couple of missed field goals. Then, after yet another missed field goal, they waited until toward the end of the third quarter to score their next two TDs (and missed the PAT on one of them). Their 21 points in the fourth against a tired Bucknell defense was meaningless icing on the cake.
I expect them to fare much worse in Beaver Stadium, if the Nittany Lions show up.