Auric Rodents* (4-2, 1-2) vs. Penn State (5-1, 2-1)
Sciarocca vs. Yurcich in the Battle of Offensive Offenses
Can we say “white out” anymore without offending someone or adding the term “privilege”? Regardless, the annual game implementing the idea germinated by Guido d’Elia, deposed strategic Culture of Football marketing guru of the Paterno era, is here upon us. The Minnesota Golden Gophers invade State College on Saturday evening to face the freshly defeated gladiators of now #16 Penn State.
Why should “almost famous” Minnesota be thus honored? According to James Franklin, who always has something to say about nothing and never has anything to say about something, it was the game’s starting time that inspired the decision. I have something more to say about that. Had PSU beaten Michigan, the tOSU game a week hence would have been played in prime time and would have been a more intuitively logical choice for the White-Out. My conjecture is that before the season started, the Culture of Football Geniuses at Penn State had already figured that Michigan would be a loss and we’d be relegated to the noon time slot for the forthcoming loss to the Buckeyes. Thus, Minnesota got the nod.
Can History Repeat Itself?
If you look back through the annals of Penn State football history, you’ll find that the Minnesota game is often pivotal. For example, the 24-23 loss in 1999 by the then 9-0 Nittany Lions heralded the beginning of a slide into a form of purgatory known among PSU fans as THE DARK YEARS. (Cue ominous, minor key cello riff). Likewise, the Lions thought they were hot shit twenty years later, in 2019, when they were 8-0 going into the tilt with the Gophers. That year, they lost 31-26. The only other loss as the 2019 season proceeded was to Ohio State, so you could say that the Minnesota loss dashed any playoff hopes for the Nittany Lions. This year, the Penn State record is 5-1, and coming off a huge, embarrassing massacre by the winged weasels, a loss here could portend yet another slide to oblivion.
Fortunately, these teams don’t play each other every year. Who could stand the excitement, already?!
If the trash talking bullshit in the Michigan tunnel is any indication, this group of Nittany Lions is already fragile. Trash talking when you’re getting your ass kicked reminds me of Anthony Morelli standing on the bench taunting Michigan fans in 2005, in a game Penn State lost. Bad form, to say the least. Now, PSU head coach James Franklin feels that the simple remedy for the trash talking problem is to impose a new rule temporally staggering the field exits at halftime when opponents share the tunnel to the locker room.
Such bullshit?! That’s like saying let’s avoid marital strife by living on opposite coasts, Hollywood style. Works for them, I suppose. But no, Franklin is in de Nile, like dem beeg crocodiles. Hey Franklin, how about controlling your team and imposing some discipline on the guilty parties instead of promoting misbehavior by externalizing the problem? Proximity ain’t the cause — it’s assholes acting like assholes. We mold men at Penn State, not overblown, braggadocious boys. Success with honor, Franklin! Set these guys back for fucking up, will you? Screw the suggestions that we need rules about who can go into the tunnel at what time!
At the very least, they must learn the lesson that they should put their money where their mouths are.
But I digress…
Hell no, we’re not going to talk much about the PSU-Michigan game, which will be indelibly branded in your personal Hall of Shame for time immemorial. The stats were so lopsided that at one time, Penn State had two lucky touchdowns and only one first down. And the defense flat-out suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked!
Moving on to Minnesota, the 4-2 Gophers are coming off a shitty 26-14 loss to the 2022 upstart Indigenously Pugilistic Illiniweks, now ranked #18 and rising under the adept tutelage of former pig farmer Brett
Bulimia Bielema. The Natives thoroughly dominated the Rodents, ringing up 472 yards to Minnesota’s 180 and dominating the increasingly irrelevant time of possession (IITOP), 40-20. To compound the felony, the Burrowers threw three ugly interceptions. The Illinois game is surely one that Rodent fans would rather forget, but like Penn State’s abysmal loss last week, it will live on in their personal Hall of Shame forever.
So, both had shitty games last week.
Questions exist for both teams regarding who the signal callers will be when the Heap Big White-Privilege-Out game starts at 7:30 pm on Saturday. Minnesota sixth-year senior QB Tanner Morgan was punched in the head by a Fighting (literally) Illini freshman linebacker in the loss to Illinois and hasn’t been quite right ever since. However, as I write this, he has not been ruled out for the Penn State game. Meanwhile, our own sixth-year boy, Sean Clifford, is being evaluated for an undisclosed injury suffered in the horrible loss to Michigan. Franklin refuses to talk about injuries unless they’re season-ending, so I guess there’s hope for Clifford, because Franklin ain’t sayin’ shit!
Redshirt freshman Athan Kaliakmanis might get the nod if Morgan cannot start. Meanwhile, fickle PSU fans have been champing at the bit to get freshman sensation Drew Allar some playing time. This could be their wet dream, but then the honeymoon wouldn’t last awfully long because the problems of the Penn State offense run much deeper than who plays quarterback. Lotta fixing needs to be done there for whoever lines up behind the always questionable offensive line.
Morgan is the Gophers’ winningest quarterback in program history, with thirty-one victories, and he has thrown for 1164 yards and seven touchdowns this year. Without him, the Rodents might be screwed.
Da weddaperson calls for a mostly sunny day with light winds, a high of 67 and a low of 38. Good football weather, but it might get a little chilly before the night is over. Let us hope that just refers to the weather.
Da Bottom Line
Time for the Official Turkey Poop Prognostication, as we all scratch our heads wondering which version of a football team will show up for Penn State. Will the Michigan loss throw a wet blanket on the season, to be exacerbated by a loss to Minnesota and a slide to oblivion? In my mind, that slide started with Northwestern, regardless of the win. Or will the team heed the words of the great sage PJ Mustipher who made the pronouncement, “We can’t let a loss create another loss.”? Will Betelgeuse explode and take us with it? These are questions that deserve answers that even I, the lesser great sage, cannot provide. You must wait and see.
The oddsmakers favor the Nittany Lions by merely 4.5 points at home. This is like the usual home advantage of a field goal plus a point-and-a-half for good measure. Hmmm, the Sanguinarians®, undaunted in the wake of the Michigan Massacre at Da Big House, must think that is a huge overlay. They’ll go all in on this one, needing to give up only 4.5 points. Hell, bet the house on it, for last week was an anomaly. No way this team could lose two in a row. Or could they?
I’m here to make a cold-blooded prediction, not to sing praises of nonexistent heroes, so here goes. The over/under is 44.5, so that says the gamblers are looking at a Penn State win of like 24.5 – 20. Can they figure out a way to score half a point? Franklin would have an answer for that. But their problems run deep, so these trash talkers lack the team character to avert post-massacre doldrums. Taking no credit away from Michigan’s complete domination, they just looked TOO BAD last week. Minnesota 24, Penn State 23 and it’s déjà vu all over again, 1999 style. (Cue Prince singing about partying). Take the over.
*Credit Big Al for the catchy Minnesota moniker.
I’ll return after the White-Privilege-Out to recap, excoriate, and castigate.