“We’re a Second-Half Team”
The Penn State Nittany Lions (5-0, 3-0 Big Ten) played a shitty first half against the Northwestern Wildcats (2-3, 1-2) but went on to win decisively, 41-13. Big Al was right about this being a WTF game. Although looking at the scoreboard might lead one to believe that the game was dominated by Penn State, the halftime score was 10-10. And on a perfect fall day in Evanston, Penn State coughed up its first fumble, on the opening kickoff, resulting in a Wildcats score.
Nooners are No Joke
Yep, no weather excuses. Nick Singleton just plain screwed up. Penn State fumbled two other times but recovered. And in the first half, their body language shouted out, “I’m sweepy and I wather be in bed.” Po’ babies! Same old story with the noon start. James Franklin exaggerates the issue by calling it 11 AM, but our lads’ circadian rhythms know that 11 Central is the same damn thing as 12 Eastern. Nevertheless, he did address the issue at halftime.
“That was my message to the team,” Franklin said. “The first half is gone. Let’s play really well in the second half.”
I suppose they might have woken up by the third quarter, but even in winning 41-13, they did not look like a playoff contender. At least I didn’t hear Franklin saying any win is pretty. What I did hear him saying was that “the ball throwing [resulting in a costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty] would be dealt with.”
Franklin was referring to the ridiculous behavior by sophomore cornerback Cam Miller, who was defending a Ben Bryant third-down pass to A. J. Henning on the Northwestern sideline. The pass was incomplete and would have forced a fourth-and-six from the Northwestern 29. Perhaps a NWU player said something to him. I didn’t see that. Whatever it was, Miller reacted by throwing the ball at an opponent. The penalty gave the Wildcats a new series of downs, and they eventually converted this PSU defensive screwup into their only three points of the second half.
That bullshit must stop. I certainly hope that it will be “dealt with.” Penn State was flagged six times for 45 yards in this soporific effort.
We Won the Stat Battle
Another James Franklin postmortem analysis cliche. We lost the turnover battle, we won the explosive play battle, we won the stat battle, already, but not by as wide a margin as the score would suggest. Penn State wound up with 353 total yards to NWU’s 175, of which a puny 45 were rushing yards. We didn’t really lose the turnover battle as Franklin said, but he was pissed off about the first fumble of the season.
Drew Allar played like he should have stayed in bed, being off target much of the afternoon. He wound up 18-33 for 189 yards and a touchdown, for a quarterback rating of 40.3.
Running Game A-ight
Our running back tandem fared better, until Kaytron Allen exited, missing the second half with an undisclosed injury or medical condition. No one knows for sure. However, Trey Potts stepped in with three carries for 21 yards and a touchdown. Nick Singleton was the leading rusher with 21-80 and a touchdown. Singleton also gained some ground as a receiver out of the backfield, with six catches for 39 yards and a touchdown. We hope Nick gets into the groove; he has looked a bit “off” this year.
The defense once again stepped up to put the clamps on Northwestern in the second half. They recorded seven sacks, twelve tackles-for-loss, and one great big stupid dumbass penalty.
Attendance at Ryan Stadium was 25,064, which shows that Penn State attracts more fans than Minnesota.
And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what a bye-week can do for your team; ask what your team can do for a bye-week. That JFK Inaugural paraphrase made no sense at all, which is why I wrote it. See you on the flip side.
I’ll be back in a week or so with a brief look at the University of Massachusetts Minutemen, a fearsome independent school that knows it will help PSU get to a 6-0 record when the Ohio State game rolls around.