The Nittany Lions (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) held the Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten) to 138 total yards in a 20-0 rout at snow ravaged Beaver Stadium. The score does not reflect the true nature of this game; it just wasn’t even that close.
From the looks of the stands, a lot of students and even a lot of season ticket holders skipped this game because of the weather. The stated attendance was 107,891, but there had to be at least 20,000 no-shows. That’s too bad.
Penn State dominated the game in just about every area. They tripled Minnesota’s first down output and more than doubled the time of possession. The Lions wound up with 464 yards, 177 of which were on the spongy, wet ground.
Speaking of the ground, three Turkey cheers for the grounds crew at Beaver Stadium, who made the field look as green as if it were a warm summer day. There was no trace of snow on the field anywhere the camera’s eye could see. This wasn’t the case in the stands, as snowball pelting was in evidence in the south end zone.
Minnesota’s one flash of brilliance was a 42-yard reception from their mostly contained superstar receiver, Eric Decker, from quarterback Adam Weber. This was Decker’s only reception of the day. He had been averaging 7.6 catches for 114.8 ypg. Weber was 10-22 for 101 yards and an interception.
The Gopher running attack stayed in its burrow most of the day, totaling 37 yards on 18 carries.
The Penn State front seven did its job masterfully. Sean Lee was back for limited duty, mostly in third-down nickel situations. His return seemed to fire up Navorro Bowman and Josh Hull, as well as the front four. Jared Odrick was basically playing in Minnesota’s backfield all day.
A sparkling stop by the PSU defense thwarted the only touchdown threat of the day. After Decker’s big reception, the Gophers drove down to the Penn State 1 yard-line on their only incursion into PSU territory all day. On fourth-and-goal, Weber gave the ball to Kevin Whaley who took off to the left toward the pylon. A.J. Wallace and Navorro Bowman would have none of that, coming up and stopping Whaley cold before he could reach paydirt. This was the most impressive defensive play of the season thus far, and it showed some heart and determination that this Turkey had felt was lacking heretofore.
Amazingly, there was only the one turnover all day. Given the sloppiness of the track, both teams deserve credit for hanging onto the ball.
The suckage on special teams continues, however. I wish this report could have been all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, to quote a Lesley Gore song from the 60s, but it cannot be because the return teams just don’t have it together yet. And Collin Wagner missed a 49-yard field goal he should have made. It was dead on target, but “dead” is the correct word — it died about five yards short. Wagner just doesn’t have enough leg for getting the ball deep on kickoffs and making long field goals.
The offensive line showed signs of improvement, except in one area: penalties. I suppose holding the opponent is one way to get the job done.
Nevertheless, or perhaps directly related to that, Daryll Clark was well protected and the running game was banging on all cylinders. Clark was 21-32 for 287 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Derek Moye caught 6 of those passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Evan Royster was carrying 23 times for 137 yards. A fine offensive showing by the Lions, who show up at #13 in the first BCS ranking of the year.
PSU would probably be ranked higher if not for the four patsies on the schedule. Our nemesis, Iowa, is ranked at #6. They beat Wisconsin 20-10 in earlier action.
Speaking of rank, ABC screwed us out of most of the first quarter here at the Cave, in order to complete their coverage of the boring Texas-Oklahoma game. I suppose that was OK, because Artificially Sweetened got to take her shower and not miss anything. It was her birthday, so we had plenty of food to throw at each other while we waited for ABC to switch to our game. We had already drunk a champagne toast, which lubricated the inflammation over ABC’s neo-Heidi episode—at least somewhat.
Also speaking of rank, former Big Ten front-runner #7 Ohio State was mercilessly upended 26-18 by unranked, 1-5 Purdue. How sweet that was! I’m sure out there somewhere in San Jose, Jill was beaming over the Boilermakers’ big coup. OSU’s denouement was their own damn fault. Pryor looked like he was back in high school, shooting himself in the foot. His two fumbles and two interceptions cost the Buckeyes any shot at the game. However, credit must go to Purdue, whose defense forced five turnovers and held OSU to 12 first downs all day, half the number rung up by the Boilermaker offense. So, poor, formerly #7 Ohio State now drops to #19 in the initial BCS ranking.
How did the Turkey do with the game prediction? He sucked! 27-17 was the prediction; 20-0 was the outcome. I cry no tears, though. PSU did well and I am happy.
We’ll be back later in the week with some wise-ass remarks about the forthcoming Meeeeechigan game in da Big House.