Well, THEY are, anyway!
One of my early memories as a kid in Pittsburgh was going out to dinner with my parents during a Pitt-WVU weekend. A bunch of drunks were sitting at the next table loudly singing, “We are the Mountaineers. We are the Mountaineers. We don’t give a damn about the State of Pennsylvania: We are the Mountaineers!” Over and over and over, annoyingly repeated. Well, that was 1953, when WVU had beaten Pitt two years in a row. Seventy years ago! I remember it like it was yesterday, but I don’t remember what I did on the real day yesterday. But I digress. We’re not here to talk about Pitt — under the arm! We’re here to talk about Penn State and its first opponent of the year — yep, West Virginia.
We move forward a decade to my time in Happy Valley in the 1960s. West Virginia was then an Eastern independent, just like Dear Old State. Year in and year out, we played the likes of WVU, Syracuse, Maryland, and, of course, Pitt, regularly. Back in the Rip Engle years, the Nittany Lions consistently kicked Mountaineer ass both at home and in Morgantown. In fact, from 1960 to 1983, Penn State won every game except 1980. That year, the two teams didn’t play. So, that’s right, twenty-three straight wins for PSU! In fact, going back to the Bob Higgins Era, the streak is even longer: twenty-eight straight wins from 1947-1983.
Penn State leads the all-time series 42-6, with the most recent game having been played back in October 1992. Yea, verily, it has been over thirty years since the last game, a 40-26 Penn victory in Morgantown. Of WVU’s six wins in the series, only two have occurred in the Post-World War II modern era, those being in 1984 and 1988.
Then and Now
Well, shit, things have sure as hell changed since that last game between the two. West Vagina is now in the Big 12 (which was originally the Big Eight and I’ve lost count of the real number of teams, given all the recent money-motivated bullshit). Penn State joined the Big Ten, which became eleven when Penn State entered the conference, if you don’t count the University of Chicago with no football program since the Jay Berwanger days, which I remember well. The Big Ten has fourteen teams now after adding Rutgers, Maryland, and Nebraska, and will be up to eighteen with the addition of UCLA, USC, Washington, and Oregon over the next few years. So much for a midwestern academic alliance. More money-driven bullshit. But the real change, which I am sad to have read about, is that Penn State Football, is academically in the Bargain Basement of Big Ten Infamy. That might or might not be the subject for another column, but it distresses me. It is like the Mighty Dollar Denouement has been completed, and college football is laid bare as a fraud.
But I digress painfully.
West Virginia Woes
West Virginia (5-7, 3-6 Big 12) finished tied for next-to-last in the Big 12 last year. Of the three teams who joined them in that ignoble position, they were the only finisher with more points against than points for. However, it is remarkable that they beat Virginia Tech, Baylor, and both Oklahoma schools. That ain’t too shabby for a next-to-last place team. However, their hotshot quarterback transferred to Rice and their hotshot running back transferred to Houston. Fucking transfer portal! Yet another manifestation of the pecuniary world of modern college football! They really aren’t looking very good this year.
About Penn State, we don’t know much. So, I shouldn’t be writing much, or I’ll expose my ignorance concerning this year’s team. I frankly don’t know what to think or say. Drew Allar has been pronounced “ready” by the pundits, who know more than I do, but not much more. The defense is highly questionable, and when will we ever see an offensive line not composed of traffic cones? I’m still saying we must carefully observe what happens Saturday night, lest we think we know more than we do. Of course, all the while, the Sanguinarians are all gaga about a potentially perfect season and a Still Somewhat Mythical National Championship. The perennial pipe dreams are in full force before the season opener.
Oh, and one more thing. The idiotic publications who post those stupid-ass jersey number photos in social media counting down to football season should be sent to journalism jail. Year in, year out, they do that hackneyed, banal, trite, overused nonsense, making the high school newspaper look innovative in comparison — not to mention eclipsing those so-called sports media’s collective writing skills. I don’t bother reading those damn things anymore, as I deserve to be the only fake writer that I appreciate reading. Those other pretenders just piss me off with their grammatical atrocities, poor usage, and just plain bad writing.
Saturday promises to be a great late summer football night, mostly sunny with a high of 81 and a low of 59. Little wind and rain expected. Go git ’em boys!
Da Bottom Line
So, it’s crazy. Penn State football is starting up already. Wow! It’s a big kickoff weekend, if you don’t count Navy’s ass being kicked by the Irish in Ireland last weekend. This weekend includes the monumental Big Ten matchup of Northwestern vs. Rutgers, which I’m certain will be played before an audience of 750 in Piscataway on Sunday Sunday? What did you just say to me? Moneyball strikes again! The NFL schedule doesn’t start for a week, so let’s leverage Sunday for more college football revenue. The NWU-Rutgers game is the first game of a Sunday, September 3 triple-header, also featuring Oregon State vs. San Jose State and LSU vs. FSU. Big moneyball on Sunday! But you wouldn’t see Pat Fitzgerald, if that was your only interest in watching Northwestern.
Back to prime-time Saturday, Penn State is favored by 20.5, with an over/under of 50.5. I’ll cut to the chase, because you all want to know whether I’ll continue to think that if the Lions screw up, they lose this one. Yeah, I think they’ll screw up all right. First games are never perfect. However, my gut feel is that they will win handily, but only a damn fool (which I am most days) would ever expect PSU to cover that large a spread. I’m going with Penn State 38, West Virgina 20, and I’m taking the over.
I’m taking a couple of weeks off, but I might be back here to recap this Saturday night game. My hiatus will then encompass the Delaware and Illinois games. See you in late September!