Everything’s coming up roses for the Lions and the Utes. Shout it out, Ethel Merman!
We’re going to the Rose Bowl! Yay! Can you sense my sarcasmagorical tone? Long ago and far away, before the alphabet soup of CFP, NIL, and NFL, the Rose Bowl was the big prize for successful conduct of a Big Ten and Pac-8 season. Now, it is a consolation game for those second-rate teams that can’t pass playoff muster.
All the Statistics You Could Ever Want
Speaking of alphabet soup, PSU (10-2), is ranked #11 by the CFP, #9 by the AP, and #7 by the AFCA, while Utah (10-3) is ranked #8, #7, and #10, respectively, by those same letters. That’s an average of #9 for Penn State and #8.33 for Utah. Since this post will largely focus on meaningless statistics, this is our first data point. Utah is #0.67 better than Penn State. But let’s look at other statistical measures!
Scoring Offense vs Scoring Defense
Utah ranks #8 in scoring offense; Penn State is tied for #9 in scoring defense. That alone is a worthless statistic as it doesn’t take into account the category “Performance Against Teams That Suck (TTS)”. So, let us look at the schedules to see what we can glean.
Penn State has ten victories over Teams That Suck. Their only two losses were against Teams That Do Not Suck (TTDNS). Meanwhile, although Utah also had two losses to TTDNS, they beat USC, a TTDNS, not just once, but twice. However, they lost the opener to the Gators, unfortunately a TTS. So, let’s give Utah a 71.67 Performance Against Teams That Suck rating and Penn State a 67.09.
Proof of my arcane mathematics might require an additional post. Unfortunately, it is too long and complex to describe here, so I’ll spare you the mathematical esoterica. Suffice to say that Fermat never provided proof of his famous last theorem, either. He famously stated that it was too lengthy to be written in the margins of his originally published work in 1670. Thus, by my convoluted logic, I am an equally great mathematician. Verily, if I don’t divulge my proof, it could be 350 years before someone finally figures it out!
To wrap up this category, Utah scored an average of 34.75 points against TTDS while allowing 32, whereas for Penn State, the TTDS totals were 24 for and 42.5 against. That makes Utah better by 21.25 TTDS points. So, divide that by the PATTS differential of 4.58, and you get 4.64 adjusted raw PATTS advantage factor. Now, we’re getting somewhere!
This is an area where Penn State fans might be surprised. Utah ranks #8, completing very nearly half of their attempts. Penn State? Good ol’ #93 completes 36.5% of its third-down tries. Big surprise? I lied to you. You knew PSU sucked in this category.
Passing Offense vs Passing Yards Allowed
Penn State was great, right? Vaunted secondary? Right? Well, the Nittany Lions finished the season ranked #47 in passing yards allowed. Utah ranked #45 in passing offense. You see, they’re not a typical, pass-happy Pac-12 team. But Penn State will be missing Joey Porter, Jr., in the secondary for the Rose Bowl because Joey saving himself for the NFL. So, we’ll give a slight advantage to the Utes here, like 1.723 TNT points (which have not yet been defined and probably never will).
Utah is tied for #20. Penn State is at #36. They’re mellower out there in Utah with all those Mormons running around with multiple wives. They must be. Utah hereby awarded .069 TNT points.
This is where Penn State shines, and would have shone better were it not for late season screwups. Penn State ranks along with App State, Buffalo, and Tennessee at #14 with a +9. Utah is at #21 with a +8. Based on the number of games played, this shoves 0.12 TNT points back over to PSU’s side of the scale of football justice.
In Total Defense, the Nittany Lions are #15, while the Utes are #19; in Tackles for Loss, Penn State ranks #7 vs #41 for Utah, while Penn State is at #22 in Tackles for Loss Allowed and Utah is #4. In sacks, PSU is #9 and Utah #16; sacks allowed, PSU #34, Utah #6. Utah has a decent offensive line and a QB who can evade tacklers. That’s all I have to say here.
Offense vs Defense
As we mentioned beforewise, Utah ranks #45 with an average of 252.5 passing yards per game. Penn State is slightly suckier, ranked #48, with 250.3 ypg. Utah ranks #57, allowing 218.3 yards per game, while Penn State at #47 allows 212.8 yards per game.
Rushingwise, Utah, as I mentioned before, breaks the mold of pass-happy Pac-12 teams, ranking #10 in rushing, with an average of 220.2 yards per game. Penn State, surprisingly, given all the hoopla about Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen, is down at #43 with 182.1. That’s lower than Notre Dame, ferchrissakes! But Penn State’s rushing defense allows fewer yards than Utah’s, 105.1 vs. 107.0, ranking them at #14 and #16, respectively.
TNT Points Summation
Utah 43692.12, PSU 43420.0.
It was a long time ago when Penn State beat Moo U. in its season ender. I’ll remind you that in that Senior Day game, Sean Clifford’s final regular season game of his sparkling 18-year career at PSU, the Nittany Lions prevailed 35-16. In that game, Clifford threw four TD passes, and was 19-24 for 202 yards.
As for the other guys, I was impressed by Utah’s performance in the Pac-12 championship against USC, where the Utes dashed the playoff hopes of the Ribbed Trojans with Reservoir Tip, 47-24. Junior quarterback Cameron Rising, who has that certain male porn star look to match his porn star name, was 22-34 for 310 yards and three TDs against the Prophylactics. His offensive line was excellent, too. The running game was no slouch, either, with leading rusher, freshman Ja’Quinden Jackson jacking up 105 yards on 13 carries, including busting a big one for 53 yards. He scored two rushing touchdowns.
The Utes dominated the Condoms throughout. In a doomacious harbinger, USC was absolutely putrid at third-down conversions, at 1-12, and they were able to muster only 56 rushing yards. The Rubbers managed only 2.1 yards per rush. The Utes’ defense also forced a fumble and an interception. Yeah, that swarming defense of the Utes will be a problem for Penn State, as will its competent offensive line.
The Utes were in the Rose Bowl last year, edged by tOSU 48-45, while the Nittany Lions… well, we don’t want to talk about how the Lions got hogtied. What we will talk about instead is Penn State Head Coach James Franklin’s shitty record against top ten teams. You know it as well as I do. Furthermore, his bowl game record is mediocre. So, Franklin, prove to us that you can do it! Surprise us all! We’re not going to accept anything less than a victory in Pasadena.
Bit of a cool weather period for Pasadena, with high of 55 and low of 48 forecast. Cloudy, with a 25% possibility of some kind of precipitation. So, if they’re going out there for sunshine and warmth, they ain’t getting it, and the Tournament of Roses Parade might need to deal with a wet blanket. Hell, it’ll be only nine degrees warmer in Pasadena than it will be in State College. The unSoCal weather will neither benefit nor hamper either team. No excuses, pal.
Da Bottom Line
Let’s wrap up this convoluted ball of facetious statistics and out-of-the-ass ASS-essments. You know, man, this is hard to write. Not only is it the final Official Turkey Poop Prognostication for the season, but also it is one that accepts the sobering reality of this team’s modest accomplishments. Despite the 10-2 record, all wins were over TTS and the Sanguinarian® whining about not being in the top ten is merely obligatory background noise. Like dem big crocs, dey are in de Nile. If your team sucks, make up for it by blaming it on the officials, the CFP, the sports writers, and whoever — externalizing like a child with no logical defenses.
Yep, crying “Underranked!” is annoyingly oblivious. If anything, based on my PATDNS rating, the Lions are overranked. While it would be ignorantly blissful to be one of those Sanguinarians® navigating bowl season with blinders on while crying “foul!” over the CFP ranking Penn State out of the top ten, we must boil out the emotion here and replace it with cynical assessment, to wit: Clifford should have quit while he was ahead, exiting in a blaze of glory against Moo U., because surely his curtain call will be disappointing.
I am The Nittany Turkey. If I say it, it must be true.
Las Vegas at this point favors Utah by 2.5 points, with an over/under of 52.5. That works out to a 28-25 victory for the Utes. Now, throw that out the window because, as you know, TNT points rule. That, and our unquantifiable intangibles described above, to be sure. Utah 37, Penn State 24. Take the over.
I’ll be back after THE ROSE BOWL, damnit, for a recap of the game and some auld lang syne. In the meanwhile, I’ll drink a cup of kindness, yet, and wish you all a very Happy New Year 2023!