#14 Penn State 33, Central Michigan 14
I joined the Sanguinarians® for this week’s game and look at what happened! I was summarily punished for my optimistic projection of 56-6 by a lackluster game against an opponent that was better coached but replete with inferior talent. That the Nittany Lions would win was a foregone conclusion, but after a couple of quick scores, the boys on the field seemed to lose interest, allowing the Chippies to come back and tie them at 14 until shortly before the end of the first half. Then, it took a defensive play to pull ahead 21-14. From that point, PSU added another 12 points while the Chippewas were blanked.
Jim McElwain did an excellent job of preparing his troops, who clearly were hell bent on winning this game. Kudos to the Chips! They remained committed until the end.
Sean Clifford started off great, like the rest of the team. Then he, too, sank into the morass of presumed indifference. He was 8-8 at the outset, then inconsistent as hell thereafter, missing open receivers even with decent pass protection by the improving offensive line. The Clifferoo wound up 22-34 for a measly 217 yards and three touchdowns. His late game garbage time replacement, Drew Allar was similarly awful, 2-5 for 20 yards. The best thing I can say is that neither was intercepted.
Running Game A-ight
The running game looked good, but Nick Singleton had an off day, gaining only 42 yards on 12 carries. He sometimes wants to go for yards on the outside where there ain’t no blocking. That might have worked at Governor Mifflin HS, but it won’t cut it in the FBS. He has the speed to get outside, but the opportunities must be there. Singleton did manage to bust one for 21 in this game. Meanwhile, fellow freshman Kaytron Allen sparkled, with 13 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown.
The defense appeared to be as disinterested as the offense, allowing 363 yards, 275 of which were against the vaunted secondary. Starting CMU quarterback Daniel Richardson was 26-45 for 235 yards and two touchdowns. The mighty Penn State front seven recorded but two sacks, however, were able to come up with two picks. The Chips added 88 yards on the ground.
Third Down Suckage
Penn State was once again in the dumper third-downswise, converting five of thirteen third-down opportunities. When the “explosive” plays are working, this doesn’t matter as much, but they weren’t, and it did. Part, if not most, of the reason for this is Clifford not hitting open receivers all too frequently.
Kicking was abysmal, with both Jake Pinegar and Sander Sahaydak missing field goals. On Penn State’s fourth TD, Pinegar’s extra point attempt was blocked by CMU. However, Barney Amor did a respectable job punting for the Nittany Lions.
Statement Game — Yeah, Right!
Well, friends, I thought that if there was a time to make the proverbial statement to confirm the Top 20 ranking, it would be this game. Instead, lots of weaknesses remained apparent. Areas that had appeared promising suffered a backslide, and some old, unpleasant habits resurfaced. Although Sanguinarians® will dismiss this as a win being a win and will say that it is OK to have an off day when you know you’re going to win, that is bullshit rationale. If you can’t pound a lesser opponent into submission, where will the grit come from when the going gets rough? The game face must be omnipresently deployed.
Any Other Saturday Surprises?
There will certainly be a reshuffling of the Top Ten as unranked Kansas State upset #6 Oklahoma 41-34 in the biggest Sooner bust of the century. #4 Michigan had a tough time with Maryland at home, eventually prevailing 34-27. That’s another group who let their guards down against a lesser opponent; the stats were quite even. Meanwhile, it was no surprise that #3 Ohio State had little trouble with the Badgers, winning 52-21, in what has been a disappointing year for Wisconsin.
Moving to the ACC, #5 Clemson and #21 Wake Forest battled to a 51-45 OT win for the Tigers in the premier ACC matchup, while suckass #25 Miami unexpectedly lost to Middle Tennessee 45-31. In the Pac-12 #7 USC barely squeaked by the Oregon State Beavers by a field goal.
And, in the SEC #8 Kentucky had trouble with lowly Northern Illinois at home, 31-23. Hog Mania will be dampened in Fayetteville, as the #10 Razorbacks went down to Texas and came back with their corkscrew tails between their legs, bowing to #23 Texas A & M, 23-21. One more thing to mention — back in the Big 12, unranked Texas Tech edged #22 Texas 37-34.
Oklahoma and Arkansas are thus likely to be sucked out of the Top Ten. Just goes to show you that rankings in the first half of the season are worth the paper they’re written on, if not less. They typically represent pipe dreams on the part of sportswriters. Remember where the weenies ranked Notre Dame at the beginning, before two losses bounced the Irish straight to football purgatory?
Get It Together, Boys
Northwestern comes to town on Saturday; Hurricane Ian will be a factor. The Big Blow is scheduled to arrive here in Florida on Thursday and will work its way through to the northeast according to Chief Meteorologist James Franklin. I frankly don’t give a shit about whether the Nittany Lions must play in driving rain; I’m only concerned for my properties here in Florida. But what I will say is, hurricane or no, the level of play must improve regardless of what we think of our opponent.
I’ll be back mid-week with a look at Northwestern if I haven’t blown away.