No one ever wants to listen to the rambling ruminations of a crusty old fart who never played the game, so I’ll bore you with them anyway. You can get astute analysis of football machinations elsewhere, in legitimate media and serious Penn State football blogs that “break down” anything and everything, but here, you get something unique: my bullshit. The more I spew, the less I get in return, but I really do want to hear from you. I liken this joint to a neighborhood bar, where you can bloviate about football as much as you want, and everyone is an expert on everything. The main thing is that everyone’s opinion counts.
Far be it from this turkey to claim expertise in any subject other than how to piss off his girlfriend without even trying. You all know the game better than I do. What I do have is opinions — and you know what they say about them.
At this stage of the season, and after what happened at Lincoln, opinions are going to be flying around and gaining traction, so bandying them about could wind up being more important — and perhaps, more entertaining — than “breaking down” football games as if I was enlightening the vast unwashed. I’m truly in a strange mood tonight, and since no one else wants to listen to me, I feel obliged to harangue you all out there in cyberspace, as I cast a controversial lure out into the miasma to see what will bite.
Most likely, the bite will come from Anopheles, and I’ll get malaria.
“I just feel terrible that we lost this game. But we lost to a great football team, a very well-coached football team. We’ve got to get back to work on Monday.” —Bill O’Brien
Was Nebraska really the better team out there on Saturday at Memorial Stadium, where the #16 Cornhuskers (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) beat the Nittany Lions (6-4, 4-2) 32-23? For the first half, they most likely weren’t, as Penn State took a 20-6 halftime lead into the locker room. On the other hand, in spite of a controversial call that went against Penn State, I have to say that unlike the Nittany Lions, Nebraska showed up in the second half when they had to, outscoring the Lions 26-3. Nebraska has made a habit of coming from behind to overcome double-digit leads and win games this year. Because I get caught up in some things that bother me, I’ll probably spend more column-inches castigating Matt McGloin for his post-game comments than I use for actual game commentary. But I digress.
Nebraska will probably wind up playing Wisconsin to see who goes to the Rose Bowl.
The aforementioned controversy arose out of a call that denied Matt Lehman a touchdown when he reached out with the ball to “break the plane” of the goal line in the fourth quarter. The ball was knocked out of his hands. Nebraska recovered the fumble, and upon video review, the call on the field that the ball came out before breaking the plane stood, denying Penn State the touchdown.
Nittany Lions head coach Bill O’Brien felt that the ball had crossed the plane. So did most TV viewers after ESPN/ABC showed the play from 98 different angles, 145 different times. However, the rule states that there must be indisputable visual evidence to overturn a call. It was close, but I suppose not close enough to merit being overturned, at least in the minds of the officials who reviewed it. (If you crave a spookily nefarious opinion on the conspiracy aspects of this call, read what David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News had to say about it.)
First of all, Lehman made a dumb-ass, overenthusiastic, rookie mistake trying to extend the ball out there. That’s just a boneheaded thing to do on second down. You get in if you can, but protect the damn ball! Penn State, down 27-23 at the time, had two more plays to get the six from point-blank range, had Lehman been tackled short of the goal line. Duh! I know that kids make mistakes in the heat of combat, but geez! With almost nine minutes left in the game, Penn State could have had the lead and it would have been a different game from then on out.
O’Brien’s take was similar. “They just didn’t feel like they could reverse it,” he said. “He tried to reach it out. You can’t do that. He was just reaching it out. Good kid trying to make a play.”
After the game, referee John O’Neill said in a statement, “The ruling on the field was a fumble short of the goal line. It went to replay and the replay official said the play stood based on the views he had. It’s ultimately his decision.”
Pelini said it helped that the officials initially ruled it a fumble.
“You got to have indisputable evidence to overrule it,” he said. “Something that bang-bang, usually it ends up going however they rule it on the field. We were kind of fortunate.”
Devon Edwards wrote in Black Shoes Diary:
Thankfully, I don’t expect we’ll see too many Penn State players express their frustrations publicly, as did their Spartan counterparts a week ago. They’re better than that, and Penn State is better than that, and Bill O’Brien wouldn’t stand for it. But that’s what fans and bloggers like us are for: to pout and shout, and throw a tantrum, because just like Michigan State a week ago, these Nittany Lions were screwed out of a win they deserved.
Alas, Edwards was wrong. As bad a taste as such a questionable call left in our mouths, feisty quarterback Matt McGloin decided to make it worse with his post-game grousing.
“We’re not going to get that call here. We’re not going to get that call ever, actually, against any team. It doesn’t matter who the refs are. It’s us against the world and we’re not going to get those calls in these types of games.”
Oh, yeah, McGloin? Well, this is just about as bush league as Lehman’s ball extension, only worse. A player accusing officials of bias? Hell, in the NFL, you’d be fined, suspended, or dismissed for doing that. Players can whine about official calls amongst themselves and the coaches behind closed doors, but not in an open forum for the media, as you did. Schmuck, you are representing the University, one that has been accused of having a football over everything institutional philosophy, ferchrissakes! Although I can understand your feelings about the game, and your frustration relating to this call, it was an impertinent comment in an inappropriate forum. You need to learn how to keep your great big fucking mouth shut.
I hope O’Brien gives him the full twisteroo for that one.
One reporter asked McGloin if he was saying what everyone was thinking he was saying. McGloin responded, “Write what you think.”
It is for the fans and the media to speculate on the conjectures that might have been where McGloin was going with his accusations — conjectures that Big Ten officials are deliberately biased against Penn State. If there are specific incidents needing to be addressed, the Conference has a vehicle for reviewing such claims. They have to come from the athletic department, not from the damn loose cannon quarterback.
Perhaps McGloin was also upset about how the game went in general for him and his team. It was replete with frustrating moments, including a proper intentional grounding call in the end zone for a safety, about which McGloin threw an infantile tantrum on the field, an interception, three sacks, and two balls fumbled away inside the ten yard-line, one by Lehman as mentioned above and the other by Zwinach.
When you’re playing a good team, McGloin, it ain’t easy. No one is going to hand you the yards. You have to work hard for them. Maybe, you and your teammates just didn’t quite work hard enough. Exasperating, I know. So near and yet so far! There’s a lesson in life for ya, boy: nothin’ good comes easy.
All in all, playing the second half as they did, the Lions would lose that game 10 times out of nine. Take your lumps and move on. Whining to anyone who will listen does not show “balls” or leadership; it is a classless, unmanly act.
So, shut the hell up, Sally McGloin! I like your progress on the field; now you have to get your arrogant head out of your ass.
Leave the grousing to the legions of Penn State fans who feel there has been a Big Ten conspiracy against the Nittany Lions from the time they entered the conference. I’m not happy with them, either. Along with others who hopped on the conspiracy bandwagon this year in the wave of post-Sandusky paranoia, they pick on every field call that is questionable, decrying it a purposeful act again Penn State, while ignoring the bad calls made against opponents. Hell, people still remember two seconds being added to the clock in 2005 at Lloyd Carr’s request, which was just enough for Michigan to come back and win. They never stop to think about the fact that Zemaitis should have been able to cover Manningham in the end zone. It was all the refs’ fault, the result of a conspiracy between the traditional Big Ten powers and the refs to make us feel unwelcome in the conference. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!
Really, though, I don’t mind it so much when the fans do it. It’s good barroom “expert” discussion fodder. However, when players do it, they’re cruisin’ for a bruisin’. Word.
I think Stephon Morris got it right when he said, “We put ourselves in that situation. We could have gotten some more third-down stops. We could have stopped Martinez, and we could have stopped the run. You can’t leave the game in the referees’ hands, and we know that.”
Morris doesn’t have his head up his ass. He understands how the game was really lost. He acted like a true warrior, gracious in defeat, going on to state it more succinctly.
“They just made more plays than we did, kind of like the thing with the Ohio State game. The losses that we had, it’s all about the second half.”
The second half — that’s the conspiracy here. What gives?
Instead of pissing and moaning about bad calls, we should be spending some time on the biggest conundrum of the season: What the hell is up with this coming out flat in the second half shit?!?! We showed in the first half of this and other games that we could play even up with and even superior to serious opponents. What the hell happens at halftime to cause the defense to appear to be out of gas and the offense to appear out of sync? Is this just me adding two and two to get five, or is there something going on that is correctable? It doesn’t make sense to me.
That, along with three critical turnovers, not one lousy questionable call, lost the game for Penn State.
On the bright side, beleaguered place kicker Sam Ficken was a perfect 3-3, with a long field goal of 38 yards; on the dark side, the Lions had to settle for those three field goals instead of touchdowns. Also on the special teams’ bright side, Alex Butterworth averaged 47.7 yards punting.
Nebraska dominated time of possession, holding onto the ball for over 34 minutes, which directly relates to their 267 yards rushing. They were 9-18 in third-down conversions. Otherwise, the stats were pretty even. LOL.
I’m really done with this game. The best part of it was the noodle pudding I made for the attendees at The Cave. That sure was mighty fine.
Now, we have two home games to wrap up the season. I’ll be back later in the week with more of my drivel about the forthcoming Indiana game.